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Hidden symbolism is abundant in American national flags of the Civil War era and variants thereof. Messages appear in both the count of the stripes and the stars, as well as their placement. At the onset of the Civil War, President Lincoln urged Americans not to remove the stars that represented states that seceded from the Union. There was great need to demonstrate unity; to show that he had not written off those Americans living in the South who did not support the ideals of Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy, as well as to show both the American people and the world that he rejected and vetoed secession and would do everything in his power to ensure Union victory. Despite Lincoln�s pleas, some anti-Southern patriots removing the stars represented Confederate States. At the same time, the opposite actually occurred in the South, where some persons were loathe to instantly abandon the national flag. Here the count of stripes or stars was altered to reflect the number of Confederate States, or else the star count was modified to glorify a particular Southern State. The 22 stars on this particular example represents a removal of those states that the particular flag-maker felt were loyal to the Confederate cause, creating what has been called a Southern-exclusionary count. Because the number of states in the Union fluctuated over the course of the war, and because certain states were on the fence with regard to their loyalties, the number of stars on any particular flag of this nature can differ from one to the next. When the war broke out, there were officially 33 stars on the flag. Before the 34th star was officially added on July 4th, 1861, 11 state governments had officially ratified secession. 33 less 11 equals 22. Yet because most makers of flags would have added the 34th star early (with or following the addition of the 34th state, Kansas, in January of that year), the calculation of 22 was probably obtained from circumstances that occurred later in the war. Between the addition of West Virginia in 1863 and Nevada in 1864, there were 35 states and generally 35 stars on most American national flags produced within that period. By this time the Confederacy had officially recognized 2 of the Border States (Missouri and Kentucky), for a total of 13. Although there were 3 additional Border States (Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia), the stars for these states are not typically included on Confederate battle flags of this time frame, most of which contained 13 stars, so the subtraction resulting in a count of 22 is particularly plausible. Although the stars of the flag are arranged in a rectilinear fashion, some unusual characteristics give it a dynamic presentation. Chief among these is the fact that the union is oddly center justified along the hoist end of the royal blue canton, with an unusually large amount of open space above, below, and to the hoist end of their position. Also note how the stars, which appear in staggered rows of 5-6-5-6, face in various directions on their vertical axis. These attributes lend a healthy dose of folk quality to the flag's design. The stars are hand-sewn and double-appliqu�d. This means that they are applied to both sides. The canton and stripes are unusually bold in color. The blue falls between royal and denim in description and is notably more attractive than that which is seen on many flags. This is a homemade example and, since blue cotton was evidently scarce during the war [as evidenced by the use of blue wool in the cantons of most cotton flags of this period], the piecing of the cotton fabric used in the canton in a make-do fashion is understandable. The scarlet red and white stripes are made of cotton that has been pieced with treadle stitching. The flag has certainly been flown for an extended period, as evidenced by appropriate wear in expected places, which contributes to its visual impact, but perhaps the most striking feature is found in the huge red tassels, which are uncommonly large in scale, constructed of red wool yarn instead of silk (as would be expected in commercial trimmings), and attached to a twisted woolen cord which appears to be of commercial manufacture. This is threaded through a series of small, riveted, metal grommets along the hoist end, set within the cotton fabric. All-in-all a dynamic example of the Civil war period with an interesting anti-Southern message. Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% silk organza on every seam and throughout the star field for support. It was then sewn to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color, which has been 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. A shadow box was created to accommodate the tassels. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic.
Inventory Number:


Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
Contact   Jeff Bridgman Phone: (717) 502-1281
Period: 19th Century (1801-1900)
Date: 1863-1864
Condition: There are various minor losses, tears, and minor staining throughout, accompanied by moderate loss in the bottom fly-end corner of the stripe field, where there is a moderate horizontal tear. There is a period patched repair at the end of the first red stripe. The wear is both expected and attractive and contributes to the presentation.
Measurements: Frame: 70" x 99" Flag: 58.5" x 84"
Inventory Other Inventory by this Dealer
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
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