|37 SINGLE APPLIQUÉD STARS ON AN ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG MADE DURING THE RECONSTRUCTION ERA, DURING THE INDIAN WARS, BETWEEN 1867-1876, WHEN NEBRASKA WAS THE MOST RECENT STATE TO JOIN THE UNION
|Frame Size (H x L):||Approx. 56" x 81"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||43.75" x 69"|
|37 hand-sewn, single-appliquéd stars and 13 hand-sewn stripes on an American national flag of the 1867-1876 period. The 37th state, Nebraska, joined the Union roughly two years following the close of the Civil War, on March 1st, 1867. This was the era of Reconstruction of the South, and at a time when many Civil War veterans who had re-enlisted were shipped to the West to participate in settlement of the territories and the Indian Wars. The 37 star flag was official from that year until 1877, although it generally fell out of use in 1876 with the addition of Colorado.
The 37 star-count is fairly scarce when compared to the flags that immediately preceded and followed it. This is due primarily to the lack of major patriotic events during the period in which they were generally used. While the 37 star flag was still official in the year of our nation's centennial of independence (1876), it was well known that at least one more state would be joining the Union that year. This caused many flag makers to cease production in favor of 38 and 39 star flags, along with 13 star examples to commemorate the original 13 colonies.
The canton and stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting, which is typical for long-term, outdoor use. Due to the limited width of this fabric, it was pieced in two sections. The stars are made of cotton and are single-appliquéd, meaning that they were applied to one side, then the blue fabric was cut from behind each star, folded over and under-hemmed, so that one appliquéd star could be viewed on both sides. 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 that it may have served both functions. Whatever the case may be, I always find single-appliquéd 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 naturally appear earlier and more hand-made than their double-appliquéd counterparts. This method of construction appeals to connoisseurs of early American textiles, who appreciate the texture and homemade qualities of single-appliqué work. Although on rare occasion the technique can be seen on flags made on as late as the turn of the 20th century, it tends to be most prevalent in flags of the Civil War (1861-65) and prior, and is the method of choice on the very earliest American flags with appliquéd stars.
The stars are arranged in justified rows of 6-6-6-7-6-6, each with one point facing upward, in the 12:00 position. There is a linen binding along the hoist. This was pieced with treadle stitching. A small section of this was overlaid with additional fabric at the top and bottom, during its course of use, as part of a repair. The original fabric remains, underneath. The stitching for the addition was done by hand and the fabric was salvaged from another flag that was of the same general period, perhaps a bit earlier. There is a brass grommet in the top section. There was another in the bottom section, which is now absent.
Black inked stencils along the hoist read "FRED" and "4 x 6." The latter indicates the size of the flag in feet, though the fag is actually a bit smaller, measuring approximately three inches less on both the hoist and fly. Wool shrinks, but typically not as much as what is witnessed here. The former marking is what one might expect from a commercial flag-maker. Most flags were not signed, but the name of the maker would sometimes appear in precisely this way, or a variation thereof. Whether this is simply the given (first) name of the maker, and his characteristic way of marking his flags, or the name of a ship, or the name of the person who repaired the flag, is not known. Whatever the case may be, it is certainly an interesting curiosity.
While not out of the ordinary in terms of its star configuration, the flag is especially attractive in both colors and design, as well as in its stitching and overall appearance. The size of the flag is also desirable among its counterparts of the period. In the 19th century, flags with pieced-and-sewn construction were typically eight feet long or larger. Because flags needed to be seen and recognized from a great distance, large size important to their function as signals. A length of six feet on the fly was considered small and production of flags smaller than this was extremely limited. Because the average 19th century sewn flag can be cumbersome to frame and display in an indoor setting, many collectors prefer printed parade flags, which were generally far smaller, or small-scale sewn flags, like this one.
Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by masters degree trained staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples.
The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. The mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Feel free to contact us for more details.
Condition: There is minor to moderate loss of blue wool bunting in the canton, along the hoist end. There is a small patch on the reverse with stitched repairs in the top corner and a small, round, darning repair about 3/5 of the way down, and there are two more of these in the stripes below the canton, adjacent to the hoist. There is a sizable patch in the bottom, hoist end corner, at the beginning of the last red stripe and there is a small patch in the opposite corner, at the fly end of the first red stripe. There are extremely minor losses elsewhere in the striped field, primarily along the hoist and fly ends. There is a sizable hole with associated loss in one of the stars and tiny holes in a couple of others. There is minor to modest foxing and staining throughout. A small section of the hoist binding was overlaid with additional fabric at the top and bottom, during its course of use, as part of a repair. The original fabric remains, underneath. The fabric was salvaged from another flag that was of the same general period, perhaps a bit earlier. There is a brass grommet in the top section. There was another in the bottom section, which is now absent. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
|Collector Level:||Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts|
|Flag Type:||Sewn flag|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1867|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1876|
|War Association:||1866-1890 Indian Wars|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|