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Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags and Painted Furniture - 35 HAND-SEWN, SINGLE-APPLIQUÉD STARS ON A CIVIL WAR FLAG FLOWN BY A NEW YORK STATE TINSMITH, MADE BETWEEN 1863 - 1865, REFELECTS WEST VIRGINIA STATEHOOD
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  35 HAND-SEWN, SINGLE-APPLIQUÉD STARS ON A CIVIL WAR FLAG FLOWN BY A NEW YORK STATE TINSMITH, MADE BETWEEN 1863 - 1865, REFELECTS WEST VIRGINIA STATEHOOD

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 62.5" x 95"
Flag Size (H x L): 50" x 82.25"
Description....:
35 star American national flag of the Civil War period, with beautiful patina and wonderful presentation. The stars of the flag are made of cotton, hand-sewn, and single-appliquéd. 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 star could be viewed on both sides. I always find single-appliquéd stars more interesting, not only because they are evidence of a more difficult level of seam-work and stitching, but also because they are more visually intriguing. Both the sewing itself and stretching of the fabrics over time results in stars that have irregular shapes and interesting presentation. This is why flags with single-appliquéd stars often appeal to connoisseurs of early American textiles. The two visible rows of hand-stitching emphasize their hand-sewn construction and folk qualities. While some flag enthusiasts have pointed to this as a means of conserving fabric, (not having to cut and 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 have been a byproduct of both objectives.

West Virginia broke off from Virginia and was admitted into the Union as the 35th state (a Free State) on June 20th, 1863, a few days before the battle of Gettysburg. The 35th star was officially added on July 4th, and the flag was used during the closing years of the war. Production would have generally ceased the following year, however, with the addition of Nevada as the 36th state on October 31st, 1864.

The star are arranged in lineal rows of 6-6-6-5-6-6, which is an extremely unusual configuration for this count. Because their number is easily divisible, 35 stars are usually laid out in 5 rows of 7 stars. The stripes and canton of the flag are made of wool bunting that has been pieced and sewn with treadle stitching. This was the most typical fabric employed in the manufacture of flags for long-term, outdoor use. Because blue wool bunting was only available in a maximum width of eighteen inches, the canton has been pieced from two lengths of fabric.

There is a twill cotton binding along the hoist with two brass grommets, one each at the extreme top and bottom. "E. Filley & Son" is inscribed along the hoist binding, on the reverse side, with a dip pen. It was common to mark flags in this manner during the 19th century to indicate ownership. There is a tiny, sewn, length of cotton directly above the business name. This has writing on it as well, though unfortunately illegible. This might be an early dry cleaning tag with yet another name. The name "Lizzy Filley" appears at the end of the last red stripe, painted in large letters, though somewhat faded.

Tinsmith Edwin Filley was born in Bloomfield, Connecticut in May of 1799, the year that George Washington passed. He came to Lansingburgh, in rural Rensselaer County, the western border of which is adjacent to Albany, while the eastern edge borders both Connecticut and Vermont. According to a book entitled "Landmarks of Rensselaer County" by George Baker Anderson (1897, D. Mason & Co., Publishers, Syracuse, NY), in 1813 he "associated himself with a relative, Augustus Filley, and soon became foreman in latter’s large tin shop. In 1823 he succeeded to the business and for many years the tinware establishment of E. Filley & Son was the largest in this part of the country."

Edwin married Elizabeth White sometime during the early to mid-19th century. They had two children, Milford Edwin (b. July 9, 1831, d. September 22, 1853), and George B. (b. Feb. 14th, 1836, d. March 24, 1879), who eventually joined the business. George married Julia F. Seaman on Oct. 22nd, 1856. They had four children, including Elizabeth M. (Mrs. William B. Smith of Troy), Milford E., Antoinette F. and Mary S.

Anderson relates that Edwin and George Filley were very involved in their community. Edwin was "supervisor of the town in 1844, a trustee of the village of Lansingburgh for several years, and a director in the Bank of Lansingburgh." He describes Edwin's life as "pure and blameless" and refers to him as being "widely known, highly respected and esteemed, and noted for his strict honor and integrity."

"With one exception he was the oldest member of the M. E. church of Lansingburgh," says Anderson, "wherein he suddenly died after morning service on Sunday, June 12, 1870. He has been its leader and a trustee from its organization in 1827, and was one of its chief supporters. His principal characteristics were his benevolence and public usefulness." His wife, Elizabeth, passed 13 years later, in March of 1883.

Anderson states that George Filley "was one of the original Board of Police Commissioners of Lansingburgh, served two terms as village trustee, and was a member of San Souci Club." George assumed the tinsmith business upon his father's death, in 1870, and continued it until his own death, in March of 1879. At that time his widow, Julia, closed and liquidated the shop.

It stands to reason that the name "Lizzy Finney," which appears on the last stripe, was either added by Edwin's wife, or George's eldest daughter, both of whom were named Elizabeth. Whatever the case may be, the flag appears to have been flown regularly, as evidenced by losses in the expected areas, at the top and bottom corners of the fly end, and the top corner of the hoist end, as well as a scattering of losses elsewhere. The scale is small among pieced-and-sewn examples of the period, which makes for more convenient display than most 35 star examples and thus more attractive to flag enthusiasts. When combined with the hand-stitched, single-appliquéd stars, and beautiful patina, and the specific history to the original time of its production, results in a very nice example of the Civil War era.

Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert 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 inquire for more details.

Condition: There is some foxing and staining in the white cotton stars and along the hoist binding. There is some bleeding and fading of the ink in the penned and painted inscriptions. There is wear along the outer edge of the hoist binding. There is some tearing and associated loss in the upper, hoist end corner of the canton. There are holes near the top, middle, and bottom of the host binding, where cloth ties may have been threaded. There is fabric loss from wind shear at the top and bottom corners of the fly end and there are various minor to modest losses throughout the striped field. 19th century wool bunting was placed behind some of these areas during the mounting process. 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
Star Count: 35
Earliest Date of Origin: 1863
Latest Date of Origin: 1865
State/Affiliation: West Virginia
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

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