Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 39" x 53.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 28" x 42.5"
34 star American national flag, printed on fine, glazed cotton, probably with some flax content. Note how the large stars point in various directions on their vertical axis, which adds a whimsical aspect to the presentation.

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.

34 star parade flags are particularly scarce. Prior to the Civil War, Americans did not employ the flag in many of the ways we do today. Before that time private citizens generally did not fly flags off their porches or wave hand-held examples like this one at parades and rallies. Flags were primarily a tool of the military--particularly the U.S. Navy. It wasn't until Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter that a surge of patriotism caused a great increase in the making and consumption of the Stars & Stripes by the general public. It was then that flag-makers began to produce them in quantity for the first time.

Among known 34 star examples, this is a known style that was made available in several different sizes. This is by far the largest size that I am aware was produced. I am privileged to have previously acquired and sold the only other two in this scale that I have ever encountered, and because I know of no others in either institutional or private collections, it is presently among just three in total that have thus-far surfaced.

Because the size of this flag is an ideal combination of bold scale and manageable display, it is a desirable object. This circumstance is enhanced by the fact that very few flags of this period exist in this scale. Parade flags, printed on cotton or silk, typically measure three feet or less on the fly, so most are considerably smaller. Flags with pieced-and-sewn construction, by contrast, were typically 8 feet long or larger in order to be seen at a distance and thus serve their primary function as signals. Prior to the 1890's, a flag measuring six feet in length was considered small and few of this scale were produced. Because such large flags are more difficult to conserve and frame to hang in an indoor setting, and smaller parade flags are less ideal for a bold display above a mantelpiece, behind a desk, or the like, many collectors prefer those of a convenient yet significant size for presentation, such as this one.

Among early flags, many that survive tend to be in better condition than this one. That is because when flags reached a certain point in terms of damage and losses, they were discarded. This actually creates a scarcity of flags with the sort of wear that this one presents. Parade flags were generally made for short-term use at parades or political events. This flag was obviously flown for an extended period, perhaps from a porch or business, in heart-felt support for the Union cause. Some flags, when they have reached this manner of condition, are all the more beautiful because of it and this is no exception. In this case the soling, separations and fabric loss are actually a plus and some collectors seek out just this specific sort of presentation that displays its history in the most open of fashions.

In summary, this is a rare and desirable example of the Civil War period with exceptional size, wear, and overall graphics.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color, which was washed to reduce 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 mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is significant foxing and staining, accompanied by significant separations and wear. A section of the top stripe measuring about 4" in length was absent at the fly end. Fabric of similar coloration was placed behind this area and painted accordingly to ghost out the loss.
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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