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   37 GILT-PAINTED STARS IN A CIRCULAR MEDALLION ON A SILK, INDIAN WARS / RECONSTRUCTION ERA BATTLE FLAG, 1867-1876, NEBRASKA STATEHOOD:


 

Description:
37 star American national flag, made of silk with beautifully gilt-painted stars on a brilliant, royal blue canton. These are arranged in what is known as a medallion configuration. This specific variation of the design, called a double-wreath, consists of a single center star, surrounded by two consecutive wreaths of stars, with four flanking stars beyond the outermost circle. The placement of these 4 outliers is somewhat unusual. Typically they are positioned in the far corners of the canton, but in this case they are adjacent to the perimeter of the double-wreath, in such a way that they make the overall pattern appear like the burst of an exploding firework. The decorative metallic bullion tape sewn along the hoist to reinforce the binding is also unusual and adds to the striking presentation. This is a land-use, military battle flag, with its basic construction elements typical of the form. The size is a bit unusual. Most infantry battle flags of the mid-late 19th century measured about 72� x 76" and were thus nearly square in their proportions. This shape had a practical utilitarian purpose, because ground-use flags needed to be as large as possible in order to be effective as signals to be viewed at a great distance, yet not drag on the ground when carried on a staff. Measuring 55.5" x 75", this example is of typical length, but is shorter on the hoist and thus more rectangular. It may have perhaps been longer. The binding is absent along the fly, but I expect that the original length was probably just 1" greater than the current furthest point. In my experience with buying and selling early American flags, I get few opportunities to purchase 19th century, silk, Stars & Stripes format battle flags of any kind. This specific example was most certainly produced by one of the commercial makers of Union Army colors that were still making flags in the years following the Civil War. After the war, some of these flags were probably purchased with the intent to be carried in drills and parades. Others were needed for use during the Indian Wars (1866-1890) and Reconstruction of the South (1866-1876). The pattern of wear present on this particular flag from obvious extended use is evidence of the latter. In the case of antique American flags, losses can actually add to their endearing visual presentation, and that is certainly true here. While its specific history remains unknown, silk flags with gilded stars include some of the most beautiful examples ever made and represent the most costly materials available. The colors are stunning and its presence is formidable. The star pattern illustrates the liberties afforded to Americans in the pre-1912 manufacture of Stars & Stripes flags and the folk art that inherently developed in their design. The 37th state, Nebraska, joined the Union in 1867, shortly following Lincoln�s death and the close of the Civil War. 37 stars was the official count during Reconstruction of the South and through approximately half the Indian Wars period, but the lack of major patriotic events during this era and the surplus of Civil War period flags led to much lower production. For this reason, 37 star flags are quite scarce compared with the Civil War period flags that preceded them and the flags made for the 1876 centennial. Despite the fact that the 37 star flag remained official until 1877, flag-makers generally produced 38 star flags for the 100-year anniversary of our nation�s independence, along with 13 star flags to commemorate the original colonies. By 1876 it was well known that at least one new state, Colorado, would soon join the Union. That circumstance caused flag-makers to cease production of flags with 37 stars in favor of 38. Construction: The canton and stripes are made of silk and pieced with treadle stitching. The stars are executed in gold gilt. There is a gold metallic bullion tape binding along the hoist. Mounting: This is a pressure-mount between 100% cotton and U.V. protective acrylic. The black background fabric 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 placed in a hand-gilded and distressed, contemporary Italian molding with a wide convex profile.
Inventory Number:

Dealer  

Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
Contact   Jeff Bridgman Phone: (717) 502-1281
Period: 19th Century (1801-1900)
Date: 1867-1876
Origin:
Condition: There is minor to significant breakdown in the silk fabric with associated loss, particularly toward the fly end. The loss is a result of a combination of its obvious use and the weighted silk used in its construction. Between the years of 1820 and 1850, the measure by which silks were sold changed from length to weight. Merchants searched for ways to make it heavier in order to get more money for the same amount of fabric. Mineral salts and other agents were employed in the task, and most or all of these additives were caustic to the fabric over time, causing it to split more easily. Flags that were carried, particularly those that saw wartime use, are generally worse for obvious reasons. The combination of wind, contact with other elements and objects, the solutions used to weight silk and poor storage are the primary reasons that so many battle flags that have survived into this century are in far worse condition than this example. Many people prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Measurements: Frame: 68" x 87.5" Flag: 55.5" x 78"
Inventory Other Inventory by this Dealer
Web-site: http://www.jeffbridgman.com
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
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