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31 star American National flag, printed on cotton, with a beautiful medallion configuration the surrounds a huge center. The large star represents the newest state to join the union, California, which acquired statehood in 1850, immediately following the 49�ers and the California gold rush. Because of its newfound value in gold, California was quickly escorted into the Union.

Note how the center star isn�t solid, but is silhouetted by a white line called a �halo�. The bold style of this star and the overall design places it among the most beautiful early patterns. Although the name of the company that made these �haloed� medallion flags is not known, it appears to have made only six different star counts using this style: 30, 31, 34, 35, 36 and 42 stars. Because printed parade flags did not exist before either 1837 or 1840, this flag maker is one of the earliest known producers.

The orange coloration is typical of many printed cotton flags made during and prior to the 1876 Centennial Exposition. I have good reason to suspect that this was the original color or certain print runs, because the color is always consistent on printed flags with orange stripes. If exposure to certain elements caused fading of the red, then flags would exist where parts are orange and parts are red. But this is not the case. The dye lots of print runs vary in color with the dye that was employed, but there are no red and orange flags with inconsistent fading.

The 31 star flag was official from 1851-1858. Flags made prior to the Civil War are extremely rare, comprising less than one percent of 19th century flags that exist in the 21st century. This is partly because, prior to the Centennial, our flag was simply not used for most of the same purposes we employ it in today. Private individuals did not typically display the flag in their yards and on their porches. Parade flags did not often fly from carriages and horses. Places of business rarely hung flags in their windows. Use of the Stars and Stripes for these purposes began to rise swiftly during the patriotism that surrounded the Civil War, but civilian use of the flag was not widespread until 1876.

Even the military did not use the flag in a manner that most people might think. The primary purpose before the Civil War was to mark ships on the open seas. While the flag was used to mark some garrisons, the flags of ground troops were often limited to the flag of their own regiment and a Federal standard. Most people would be surprised to learn that the infantry wasn�t authorized to carry the Stars & Stripes until the 1830�s, and even then did not often exercise the right, because it was neither required nor customary. It was not until the Civil War took place that most U.S. ground forces even bothered to carry the National Flag.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% cotton twill, black in color. The background fabric was washed to remove excess dye, and an acid-free agent was added to the wash to set the dye. The flag was then placed in a contemporary, black painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. Spacers keep the textile away from the glass, which is u.v. protective.
Inventory Number:


Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
Contact   Jeff Bridgman Phone: (717) 502-1281
Period: 19th Century (1801-1900)
Date: 1850-1858
Origin: US
Condition: The flag was obviously flown for a significant period of time and shows all evidence of the fact. There are holes along the hoist end where tacks held the flag to its staff and tears where the lowest three would have been. There is both fading and significant dye loss throughout, especially at the fly end. There is minor fabric loss at the fly end as well, plus minor to moderate foxing and staining throughout. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. Further, this is a very rare example that warrants practically any condition, so long as it is presentable, and the flag presents wonderfully almost as a result of its condition issues.
Measurements: Frame: 35.25" x 48.5" Flag: 22.5" x 36"
Inventory Other Inventory by this Dealer
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
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