Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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  34 STARS, CIVIL WAR PERIOD, PRINTED ON A WOOL BLENDED FABRIC, RARE NOTCHED DESIGN WITH TILTED STARS, POSSIBLY A UNION ARMY CAMP COLORS

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 29" x 35"
Flag Size (H x L): 17" x 23"
Description....:
34 star American national flag, printed on a wool and cotton blend. The star configuration, which leaves a single star missing from the top row, is very unusual for this time period. Called a “notched” design, the blank space leaves little doubt that the maker of the flag assumed that West Virginia might soon break free from Virginia (which occurred in 1863), or that another Western Territory would soon acquire statehood.

The first 3 rows of stars are tilted to the 1:00 position, while the last two rows tilt to 11:00. This is yet another unusual feature that I have only seen on this particular style of 34 star flag, of which a handful of examples are known to exist.

It is likely that this variety was produced as a military camp colors, used to mark Union Army encampments. The size and proportions are very close to that of other identified flags used for that purpose. Wool content made outdoor use flags more durable than those produced of silk or cotton. Wool sheds water and was the best storm-worthy fabric available for flag-making in the 19th century.

The difficulty with using wool bunting (the fabric most often employed in the manufacture of flags for long term outdoor use) is that wool is difficult to print, even today. Printed wool flags were first produced by clamp-dyeing in the 1840's, through use of a special apparatus, but this was patented at the time that this 34 star flag was made. The inclusion of cotton in a blended wool fabric may have made it possible to block or roller print flags, which would have been more expedient, while at the same time avoiding the violation of patent laws. The longevity of the fabric would have perhaps been shorter, but it would have been an improvement over cotton or cotton and flax blends, which were used in most printed flags made for parades, rallies and general short term patriotic purposes.

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 generally been produced until the addition of West Virginia in June of that year.

Mounting: The frame is a circa 1840-1860 gilded American molding, to which a modern molding with a scooped profile was added around the perimeter, that has a very dark brown finish, almost black, with red highlights. The flags has been hand-stitched to 100% silk taffeta for support throughout. It was then hand-stitched to 100% cotton, black in color, which was washed to reduce excess dye. And acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is significant fabric loss in along the top and bottom edges of the 1st and last stripes, particularly from the center of the flag toward the fly end. There are some losses elsewhere, the most significant of which include a hole at the end of the 4th white stripe and a series of repeating holes running laterally across the 10th, 11th, and 12th stripe, and small holes at the end of the 2nd and erd white stripes. There is some bleeding of the blue dye into the section of the stripe field below the canton. There is minor soiling in limited areas throughout. There are smaller losses elsewhere. There is minor foxing and staining. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. Further, this is a very scarce and desirable, war-period example.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 34
Earliest Date of Origin: 1861
Latest Date of Origin: 1863
State/Affiliation: Kansas
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

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