|FABULOUS SILK EMBROIDERED UNION PRESENTATION FLAG OF THE CIVIL WAR PERIOD, WITH AN OUTSTANDING ILLUSTRATION OF AN EAGLE HOLDING A STARS & STRIPES THAT BEARS A VARIATION OF THE GREAT STAR PATTERN:
This is, without doubt, one of the finest pieces of American silk embroidery I have ever seen associated with an American flag. The two-sided example is constructed on a central piece of cotton core where actually two facings, an obverse and reverse, are applied. This reinforcing center has kept this flag in very fine condition for the period, despite its silk construction.
On the obverse, the background of which is Navy blue, the embroidered text reads:
"Presented to the Young Men's Guard
by Their Lady Friends September 26th, 1864"
[The Young Men's Guard was part of the 6th Minnesota, which mustered in near the end of the war and saw very little action.]
The central device exhibits a wonderful rendition of American eagle holding in its mouth a laurel wreath and in its talons a draped American flag with its stars arranged in what is known as the "Great Star" pattern, a large star made out of smaller stars. Many colors of bright silk thread, some of it chenille and some plain floss, were used to execute the design. It is hard to believe that a single seamstress made this flag, but it is signed in right bottom corner, in silk embroidery, "F. Klein". It's entirely possible that the flag was made to order by Tiffanies in New York, which produced the best material of this kind during the Civil War era, yet I have found no link between F. Klein and the Tiffany name.
The reverse side is pieced in a traditional Stars & Stripes format, except that the canton contains no stars. Instead it exhibits old English initials "YMG" and "Geyrundet October 22nd, 1858".
Fine silk embroidery has been seen on other flags, typically mid-western units where lots of German troops were raised and with New York City embroidered flags. But I have never seen a more profusely embroidered example. And it exists as both one of the finest illustrations of American folk art of the 19th century, as well as an outstanding piece of American history.
Mounting: This is a sandwich mount between 100% hemp fabric and u.v. protective acrylic. The hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding has a substantial, convex profile.
Condition: There are several areas of tearing and damage to embroidery, the most noticeable is a 3" or 4" area in lower middle obverse at tip of draped flag and letter "b" in the word "by" within the presentation text. The reverse of flag, with red and white stripes, has numerous scattered chips, tears and reductions, as can be seen in photos.