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  EXTREMELY RARE ABRAHAM LINCOLN MOURNING FLAG, WITH HIS PORTRAIT IN THE STRIPED FIELD, ON ITS ORIGINAL STAFF; PRINTED ON PAPER, SIGNED “LYBRAND,” 1865

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 9" x 10.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 3.25" x 4" on 6" staff
Description....:
A series of paper parade flags like this one was made to mourn the death of Abraham Lincoln, following his assassination in 1865. These were likely produced so that they may be purchased by individuals or handed out by merchants as the funeral train made its way back to Illinois, retracing the steps Lincoln had traveled to Washington as the president-elect, on his way to his first inauguration. Millions of onlookers lined up to pay their respects along the 1,654-mile procession.

Three other varieties of paper Lincoln mourning flags are known like this one, in the same basic size. All were evidently designed by the same person or printed by the same maker. One of the others is nearly square, like this example, while the remaining two are more rectangular. All include a black canton, instead of blue, and their text and images are likewise black for mourning. This is the only one that includes a portrait image of the fallen president, set within an oval window in the field of stripes. The others instead have printed slogans.

A maker’s mark that appears in the bottom fly end corner reads “Lybrand”. Though I have searched extensively, I have never found information on an artist or company by that name that seems a likely candidate to have been the originator of these important little flags, which are among my favorites of anything that exists made to mourn Lincoln's death. The same printer or designer is known to have made other small paper ephemera with similar imagery.

Although I have typically found these flags loose, this one is affixed to a wooden staff like a cloth parade flag. I owned one other that shares this trait, as well as a third that was folded over a wire staff, and a fourth that appeared to have had a wire staff that was later removed.

Paper parade flags are unusual in general. It is of interest to note that they often have unusual star configurations, like this variety, which has four somewhat haphazard rows of six stars, followed by a row of seven, and ending in a widely spaced row of three. One of the other flags in the series shares the same star design, which is also seen on other Lincoln mourning ephemera that probably originated with the same maker. An example of each flag in the series, plus another in the same relative size, is pictured on page in “The Stars & Stripes: Fabric of American Spirit” by J. Richard Pierce (J. Richard Pierce, LLC, 2005), p. 34. While many of these flags were likely produced, very few have survived to the 21st century and today they are rarely encountered.

All-in-all, a rare little flag with great historical context.

Further Information about Lincoln's Funeral Train:
Lincoln’s funeral train was dubbed “The Lincoln Special.” His portrait was fastened to the front of the engine above the cattle guard. Approximately 300 people accompanied Lincoln’s body on the 1,654-mile journey, including his eldest son Robert, who went as far as Baltimore. Also on the train was a coffin containing the body of Lincoln’s son Willie, who had died in 1862 at the age of 11 of typhoid fever during Lincoln’s second year in office and was being moved in order to be buried alongside his father at the family plot in Springfield.

In 1911, a prairie fire near Minneapolis, Minnesota, destroyed the train car that had so famously carried Lincoln’s body to its final resting place.

  Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and related objects and we have framed thousands of examples.

The solid walnut molding dates to the period between 1870 and 1890, retains great early color and patina. The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. Spacers keep the flag away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass.

Condition: There is modest fading and misprinting. Rarity is such an issue here that condition is a mute point unless the presentation is significantly compromised.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 34
Earliest Date of Origin: 1865
Latest Date of Origin: 1865
State/Affiliation: Pennsylvania
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD
 

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