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13-star American national flag of the Civil War period (1861-65), entirely hand-sewn and with an exceptionally rare and interesting configuration of stars, the outer perimeter of which forms the letter �U�. Given the date of its making it can be assumed that this stood for �Union�. The stars of the flag are quite large compared to most 13 star flags of this period, and point in various directions on their vertical axis. This adds one more folk quality to an already fantastic design. Adding to its desirability is the flag�s extremely small size when compared to others of sewn (versus printed) construction that were made during the 19th century, most of which measure between 8 and 20 feet on the fly. While this flag has no known specific history, both its size and the manner of its making suggest that it may well have seen maritime use, flown from either the stern of a small craft or the pilot house of a larger boat. It wasn�t customary to fly a flag this small in scale, but examples of this size are sometimes encountered and I have always assumed that they existed due to the special request of a ship�s captain or some other high ranking officer Flags that have stars that create anything other than a geometric design are extremely rare and highly sought after by flag enthusiasts. A couple of stars patterns are known that actually spell something with numbers or letters, such as two varieties of printed parade flags, one of which has stars arranged to form �1876 - 1776� in celebration of our nation�s centennial of independence and the other that forms the word �FREE� to promote the end of slavery. Very few sewn flags are known that have stars that spell any such thing, but of the few that do, three examples are known that use 44 stars to spell �U.S.� and another is presumed to form the same two letters, although crudely, with 13 stars. A single 48 star example also exists which has stars that spell out �U.S.A.�. In addition to the above examples, I have seen a handful of Civil War era flags that have a perimeter of stars that forms a �U�, like this flag, although in different fashions. One of these has a single center star, surrounded by a wreath of stars, all of which are contained within a curve of stars that forms the letter �U�. Another of these has 33 stars and contains an arch that was either intended to be a tombstone, a doorway, or the letter �U�. Those two one-of-a-kind examples are both of sewn construction, but there is also a variety of printed parade flag that has 36 stars with an outer perimeter that forms a �U�. One 34-star example and two or three 36 star examples have surfaced with this star pattern, variations of which also exist in 38 and 42 star parade flags. Of the aforementioned variations, however, only six in total are sewn examples. This circumstance, accompanied by the fact that the flag is entirely hand-sewn, plus its general overall visual impact and very desirable, small size, make it one of the best Civil War era flags of its kind that I have ever offered for sale. 13 star flags have been used throughout our Nation�s history for a variety of purposes. The U.S. Navy used the 13 star count on small boats, not only in the 18th century, but throughout much or all of the 19th century, particularly the second half. This practice ended in 1916 following an executive order from President Woodrow Wilson. Some private ships also used 13 star flags during the same period as the Navy, and the use of yachting ensigns with a wreath of 13 stars surrounding an anchor, which began in 1848, still persists today. Among other uses, 13 star flags were carried by soldiers during the Mexican and Civil Wars and displayed at patriotic events, including Lafayette�s visit in 1825-26, the celebration of the Nation�s Centennial in 1876, and the Sesquicentennial in 1926.  Construction: The cotton-muslin stars of the flag are hand-sewn and single-appliqu�d. This means that they were applied to one side of the canton, then the blue 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 enthusiast have pointed to this construction method as a way of conserving fabric and cutting corners (not having to sew another star to the other side), others suggest that the real purpose was to make the flag lighter in weight. I believe it to be a function of all of the above and I always find single-appliqu�d stars more interesting for two reasons; one, because they are more visually intriguing and two, because when executed properly they serve as evidence of a more difficult level of seam-work and stitchery., meaning that they are applied to both sides of the blue canton. The canton and stripes are hand sewn of wool bunting and there is a fine linen sleeve with two whipped-stitched grommets. Mounting: The flag has been stitched to 100% silk organza on every seam and throughout the star field for support. Then flag was then hand-sewn to background of 100% cotton twill, black in color, which 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 flag was then placed in a black-painted and hand-gilded, contemporary 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: 1861-1865
Condition: There is minor mothing in the wool, accompanied by various minor losses and minor fabric loss in two of the cotton stars. There is also a minor amount of foxing and staining, but the flag survives in an exceptional state of preservation for the period. Many collectors prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Measurements: Frame: 40" x 51.5" Flag: 25.5" x 37.5"
Inventory Other Inventory by this Dealer
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
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