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1860 Lincoln Campaign Parade Flag with 33 Stars in a Pentagon Medallion


1860 CAMPAIGN PARADE FLAG WITH 33 STARS IN A PENTAGON MEDALLION AND AN INTRIGUING ABBREVIATION OF LINCOLN'S NAME, ATTRIBUTED TO H.C. HOWARD, PHILADELPHIA 33 star American parade flag with the 1860 Republican ticket printed in blue along the stripes: “For President, Abram Lincoln. For Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin.” There has been much speculation on the variation of Lincoln’s first name on campaign objects. Roger Fischer, scholar of campaign material culture, suggests that objects made for “Abram” Lincoln were manufactured early in 1860, before many easterners discovered the relatively-unknown Republican candidate’s true name. It has also been suggested that Abram was a nickname, given to him by close friends, but Daniel Weinberg, longtime Lincoln scholar and owner of the Abraham Lincoln Bookstore, relates that this isn't true, and friends simply called him "Lincoln". Perhaps the makers simply shortened the name to save space. In any event, the use of "Abram" is an interesting peculiarity. The stars of the flag are arranged in a very interesting medallion pattern that is loosely based on a pentagon with various stars outside it. The design is related to a handful of others that I have termed "pentagon" or "heart" medallions. The basic profile of these star patterns consists of a pentagon-shaped outline. In some cases the pentagon is more distinct than in others. In this flag it is a bit less obvious. Some of the variants contain a "Great Star" pattern, a large star made out of smaller stars, hidden in the middle, like this example, where it can be seen in the 10 stars that surround the large center star. In some cases the pentagon begins at the top but the overall pattern morphs into a shield. One might suggest that the stars of this flag form a shield, though the shape isn't as distinct as it is on other flags. Whatever the case may be regarding the symbolism in the canton, the star design is both beautiful and intriguing. Prolific flag-maker H.C. Howard of Philadelphia is known to have produced designs that used both the shortened version of Lincoln's name and unusual star patterns with pentagon arrangements. This particular parade flag was at one time sewn into a quilt that consisted of many rare political flags. Many years ago these were deconstructed and the flags were individually sold because of their significant value. Evidence of the original stitching that joined the flag within the quilt is present along the top and bottom edges. The 33rd state, Oregon, entered the Union on February 14th, 1859. The 33 star flag was official from 1859-1861, and was thus still the official flag when Ft. Sumter was fired upon, on April 12th of that year. This event marked the beginning of the Civil War and a 33 star flag was flying at Ft. Sumter during the attack. Because the 34th state, Kansas, had already acquired statehood on January 29th, 1861, flag makers knew that the 34 star flag would soon become official. For this reason, 33 star flags were not produced in great quantity for the war, which would last until 1865 and the 33 can be considered to be more of a pre-Civil war flag than a war-period flag. 33’s are considerably more rare than 34 and 35 star examples. Flags made prior to the Civil War comprise less than one percent of 19th century flags that have survived into the 21st century. Prior to the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, the Stars & Stripes 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 didn't often fly from carriages and horses. Places of business rarely hung flags in their windows. Private use of the national flag rose swiftly during the patriotism that accompanied the Civil War, then exploded in 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 1837. Even then it was neither required nor customary. It was not until the Civil War took place that most U.S. ground forces carried the national flag. It is interesting to note that Lincoln was hardly the favorite at the beginning of the campaign, winning the Republican nomination from the 3rd ticket. He then defeated John Bell (Constitution Party), John Breckinridge (Southern Democrat), and Stephen Douglas (Northern Democrat), to become the Republican party’s first president. Lincoln was elected with a mere thirty-nine percent of the vote and carried no state south of the Mason-Dixon line. Hannibal Hamlin, our nation’s first Republican vice president, was born in Maine in 1809. He was an attorney who, in his political career prior to the White House, served as Chairman of the Maine State House of Representatives, as a U.S. Congressman and Senator, and as Governor of the State of Maine. He was a Democrat until 1856, but was an opponent to slavery. He did not run with Lincoln in the second campaign in 1864, but did return to the U.S. Senate from 1869-1881 and served as Minister to Spain from 1881-1882. Mounting: The exceptional, gilded American molding dates to the period between 1820 and 1850. To this a modern molding was added as a cap, with a rippled profile and a black surface with gold highlights. The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% cotton twill, black in color. The black fabric 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. Spacers keep the glazing away from the textile, which is U.V. protective glass. Condition: There is minor fading of the red-orange stripes, but the overall condition is excellent. Measures: Frame size (H x L): 23" x 29". Flag size (H x L): 11.5" x 17".   


  • Period
  • Condition
    Good. See Item Description.
  • Dimensions

    H 23 in. x W 29 in. x D 2 in.

    H 58.42 cm x W 73.66 cm x D 5.08 cm

  • Seller location
    York County, PA
  • Seller reference number
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