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32 star American flags are rare. This is largely because they were only official for one year (1858-59), but it is also a result of the fact that this time frame occurred prior to the Civil War, in an era when use of the Stars & Stripes in the private sector fell somewhere between slim and non-existent. Minnesota joined the Union as the 32nd state on May 11th, 1858. The 32 star flag became official on July 4th of that year and remained so until July 3rd of 1859, but since Oregon joined the Union on February 14th (Valentines Day), 1859, production of 32 star flags probably ceased well before July. At approximately 55 x 105 inches, this flag is very normal in size for the period. The stars, canton, and stripes are all made of wool bunting and the flag is entirely hand-sewn. Note the interesting, dusty blue color in the canton, which is especially attractive. A linen sleeve binds the hoist, through which a rope could be inserted for hoisting. The fact that the stars are made from wool bunting is a very rare trait that I have seen on only one or two other examples across all sewn flags. Because the edges of wool bunting easily frayed, it was a very difficult task to use it in fine appliqu� work. These stars are single appliqu�d, which means that they were applied to one side of the canton, then the fabric was cut from behind each star, folded over, and under-hemmed, so that one appliqu�d star could be visible on both sides of the flag. While some flag experts have suggested that this method was a means of conserving fabric, since the maker didn�t have to sew a star to both sides, others suggest that the real purpose was to make the flag lighter in weight. I believe it may have been a function of both of these goals and I always find single-appliqu�d stars more interesting, both because they are evidence of a more difficult level of seam-work and stitchery, and because with two rows of stitching instead of one, they also appear earlier and more hand-made. This method of construction tends to be seen on earlier flags, especially those made during the Civil War era and prior. Note that the word "AMERICAN" is stenciled along the hoist in black letters. This is a highly unusual feature to see in a flag of this early period. It would have been marked in this manner by the flag-maker so that the flag could be sold to foreigners for use on ships sailing into American ports. That does not mean that the flag was sold specifically for that purpose, but rather that it was likely produced by a flag-maker in a port city. Mounting: The flag has not yet been mounted.
Inventory Number:


Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
Contact   Jeff Bridgman Phone: (717) 502-1281
Period: 19th Century (1801-1900)
Date: 1858-59
Condition: There is minor mothing throughout, accompanied by a couple of areas with moderate loss in the center of the 6th red stripe and in the last stripe, adjacent to the hoist. These can be easily addressed during the mounting process by placing fabrics of similar coloration placed behind the flag. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. The great rarity of this example warrants practically any condition.
Measurements: Flag: 55" x 105"
Inventory Other Inventory by this Dealer
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
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