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34 STARS ON AN ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR PERIOD, MADE BY WILLIAM G. MINTZER IN PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, 1861-63, REFLECTS KANSAS STATEHOOD

Web ID: 34j-953
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 59.25" x 83.75"
Flag Size (H x L): 48" x 72.25"
 
Description:
Entirely hand-sewn, 34 star American national flag of the Civil War period, made by William G. Mintzer, Philadelphia and so marked on the hoist with a black stencil. Since only a tiny percentage of surviving flags are signed in this manner, the presence of the stencil is both significant and highly desired, especially with a relationship to an important Union city.

Kansas was admitted into the Union as the 34th state on January 29th, 1861, about 2 ½ months before the Confederate assault on Fort Sumter that marked the beginning of the Civil War. The 34th star was officially added on July 4th of that year, but most flag makers would have added a 34th star with the addition of Kansas in January. The star count remained official until July 4th, 1863, and 34 star flags would have been produced until the addition of West Virginia in June of that year.

The firm of William G. Mintzer was originally founded by his father, Peter Mintzer in 1818, changing hands to his son in 1839. Located at 83 N. 3rd Street in Philadelphia from at least as early as 1829, it remained there until 1857, when William moved the company to a new location at 131 N. 3rd Street. Upon his acquisition of the business, William continued to manufacture the same goods as his father, which included coach lace, fly nets, and military goods. Besides these items, Mintzer is known to have traded in lodge regalia and fringes. The Mintzer name can be found on many different U.S. and state militia buttons. While there is a possibility that he actually made buttons, most of their patterns closely resemble the die work of Steele & Johnson. Mintzer did a large business in military good of all kinds during the Civil War, apparently with both the North and South, judging by the markings found on surviving buttons. In 1867 he was listed as an importer, manufacturer, and dealer in military, society and theatrical goods, regalia, banners, and flags. William died in late 1869 and his business was sold to R.M. Robinson. It remained in Robinson’s hands for a few years, before selling again to Clarence A. Hart.

Mintzer is not known to have held government contracts, but he obviously provided goods to volunteer units, probably through localized funding. This flag is of the general size carried by these units and sometimes presented to them, in order that they may be carried until the receipt of state-issued colors. Most flags of this nature, however, were either homemade by loved ones or special ordered by wealthy individuals and rather elaborate. It is more likely that this particular example was purchased for some other use.

The stripes and canton of the flag are made of wool bunting, joined with hand stitching. The stars of the flag are made of cotton, hand-sewn, and double-appliquéd (applied to both sides of the flag). There is a sailcloth canvas hoist with four brass grommets. From the perspective of an early textile enthusiast, the flag is very attractive. Most Civil War flags have at least some machine sewing, and while this may not be as important as star configuration or size, when all else is equal, entirely hand-sewn examples are more interesting to collectors.

In summary, this is a beautiful, Civil war flag, with great color, construction, and size, made by a documented Philadelphia maker, rare with a stenciled signature.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% silk organza on every seam and throughout the star field. The flag was then hand-sewn to background of 100% cotton, black in color, which has been washed to remove excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The flag was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: Excellent, with only the most minor mothing; exceptional for a wool flag of this period.
   
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 34
Earliest Date of Origin: 1861
Latest Date of Origin: 1863
State/Affiliation: Pennsylvania
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com


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