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Homemade American national flag, made of satin silk, entirely hand-sewn and possessing strong folk qualities. The flag was originally made with 44 stars which meant that it was produced when Wyoming was the most recent state to join the Union, but the count was later updated with a 45th star to reflect the addition of Utah. Note the vibrant royal blue color of the canton, which is almost square--actually a bit taller than it is wide. Add to this the rich quality and tone of the red and ivory, and an interesting star configuration, and the result is an example of uncommon beauty. This statement is especially true when considering the period, because flags of this era are seldom homemade, like this example, and seldom overly interesting from a visual perspective. They are most often commercially produced, ordinary, and large. The small and very displayable size of the flag is both rare and desirable among examples of the period with pieced-and-sewn construction. Until the 1890's sewn flags were typically 8 feet long or larger on the fly. During the last decade of the 19th century, 13 star flags appeared in the marketplace that were 3 and 4 feet in length. Flags in the full star count of the period decreased slightly, with 6-foot examples becoming more available than they had been previously, but anything smaller than this was very unusual and 42" was practically unheard of on the commercial market. The stars are uniformly tipped with one point in the 11:00 position. 44 of these are arranged in rows of 8-7-7-7-7-8, which creates what I call an hourglass formation. The 45th star was placed in the very center along the fly end of the canton, in the space that divides the 3rd and 4th rows. This lines up vertically with the last star in the first and last rows. I do not recall seeing this particular arrangement previously and believe it to be a unique pattern among surviving 45 star flags. The hourglass pattern of 44 stars is typically seen in 44 star flags. It is only the outlying, 45th star that results in a pattern I have not before seen. The fabric used in the stars is a twill weave. Although the construction of the stars is the same, all of the stars except the outlier have been carefully placed with the grain of the twill fabric running in one direction. The grain of the fabric in the outlying star is oriented in a different direction. This is a very finely made flag and the seamstress displayed an uncommon level of skill and precision, so I believe that the diversion is no accident. The fact that this one additional star was added at a different time is an interesting feature. The pattern of breakdown in the canton, in the form of vertical striations, contributes an almost modernistic, artistic impression. It also allows the flag to better show its age. This represents the weighted silk fabric that was used in its construction. Silk of the Civil war era and after that was used in flags and quilts often experiences breakdown of this nature due to addition of weighting agents that were caustic to the fabric over time. Introduced between 1820 and the Civil war (1861-65), these increased the amount of money that a merchant could obtain for the fabric, which began to be sold began to be sold by the pound instead of by length. The stars of the flag are single-appliqu�d. This means that the fabric was cut from behind each star so that it one star could be viewed from both sides. In this case the edges of each star were affixed to the canton and simultaneously bound to prevent fraying through use of a hand-sewn blanket stitch. I always find single-appliqu�d stars more interesting, both because they required a greater level of skill and because they are generally more whimsical in their appearance. The stripes are made of wide ribbon that has been joined with tiny hand stitches. The canton has been bound around each edge by hand on the reverse and then joined to the flag with hand stitching. There is a brass loop sewn to the bottom of the hoist end, but nothing at the top or middle. The owner of the flag instead decided to pierce two of the stars in order that rope could be threaded directly through them so that the flag could be affixed to a staff. The 44th state, Wyoming, gained statehood on July 10th, 1890. Many flag makers would have began to add a 44th star to their flags on or before that day, and the 44 star flag would have generally seen use until the addition of Utah in 1896. Utah had been attempting to gain statehood for many years, but remained a territory, primarily due to the fact that the Mormon Church and Utah authorities continued to be openly tolerant of polygamy. In 1890, Mormon Church President Wilford Woodruff published a manifesto that denounced the contract of �any marriages forbidden by the law of the land�. This gave way to Utah�s 1896 acceptance. The 45 star flag was generally used from that year until 1907, when Oklahoma joined the Union. Due to the Spanish-American War (1898) and Teddy Roosevelt�s famous world tour of the �White Fleet� (launched in 1907), this was an extremely patriotic period. Provenance: Between November and December of 2012 the flag was rented to a Hollywood production for a movie called "Foxcatcher", which is about the 1996 murder of Olympic champion wrestler David Shultz by John duPont. Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% silk organza for support on ever seam and throughout the star field. It was then hand-stitched to 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, which was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The front 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: 1896-1907
Condition: There is only the most minor foxing and staining. There is significant splitting and associated breakdown in the canton. There is minor splitting along the fold of the binding at the hoist end at the top of the fly end in the first two stripes. many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Measurements: Frame: approx: 43" x 53" Flag: 33.25" x 42"
Inventory Other Inventory by this Dealer
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
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