34 Star, Hand-Sewn, Homemade Antique American Flag of the Civil War Period For Sale
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34 Star, Hand-Sewn, Homemade Antique American Flag of the Civil War Period


34 star, hand-sewn, homemade, antique American flag of the civil war period, made of a combination of salvaged fabrics, including mens shirting, 1861-1863, opening years of the war, reflects the addition of Kansas : Homemade American national flag of the Civil War period, entirely hand-sewn and with a hoist of unusual, endearing and attractive features. Made of a wide variety of fabrics, the selection is a clear indication that the maker employed whatever material could be salvaged for the task. The first red stripe is made of a blanket or clothing grade wool with a twill weave. The next two are made of plain weave red cotton, and the remainder are made of another variety of wool, plain woven and thinner then what was used in the first stripe. The last four red stripes were pieced from many small scraps, probably left over from the sewing of some other textile. The white stripes are primarily made of plain weave cotton, some of which was likewise pieced to conserve all available materials. Perhaps the best feature, however, and the most unusual, is the selection of fabrics used to make the stars. These are of white cotton, some of which is plain but most of which is comprised of men’s shirting in wide variety decorative weaves. I have encountered similar fabrics previously in homemade 19th century flags, but its presence is extremely rare. Two of the white stripes also employ shirting of the sort found in the stars. The use of decorative clothing fabrics in the making of early stars and stripes adds a personal element seldom present in commercially made flags. This endearing feature is a clear expression of a previous age in American history, before electricity, automobiles, and ease of travel to obtain goods. It likewise reflects the availability of scarce resources during wartime in mid-19th century America. From the perspective of connoisseurs’ of early American textiles, this significantly elevates desirability. Note how the placement of the stars has wonderful graphic impact. These were basically intended to be arranged in rows, but the actual result became haphazard and appears almost random. The visual aspect of this condition is amplified by the orientation of the star themselves, spun in various directions on their vertical axis. Also of great interest from a visual perspective is the flag's state of preservation. Obviously flown for an extended period, it exhibits all of the signs one might expect of either extensive use in the field, or as a patriotic statement outside a home or business. Some Civil War units were presented with flags that were made or purchased by local individuals as parting gifts, usually given at the muster point, a parade, or some other gratuitous, celebratory event. In addition, with the opening of the Civil War also came the first time in American history when the Stars & Stripes saw widespread use by private individuals as an expression of patriotism. Kansas was admitted into the Union as the 34th state on January 29th, 1861, about 2 ½ months before the Confederate assault on Fort Sumter that marked the beginning of the Civil War. The 34th star was officially added on July 4th of that year, but most flag makers would have added a 34th star with the addition of Kansas in January. The star count remained official until July 4th, 1863, and 34 star flags would have generally been produced until the addition of West Virginia in June of that year. 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 black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective Plexiglas. Condition: There is substantial wear, fading, foxing and staining. Some of the extensive piecework is original, but some is probably reflective of repair work. Fabrics of similar coloration were placed behind the flag during the mounting process to mask losses. This is particularly prevalent in the first two red stripes, which experienced the greatest loss and breakdown. Frame size (H x L): 47.5" x 72" Flag size (H x L): 35.5" x 59".  


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  • Dimensions
    H 47.5 in. x W 72 in. x D 2.5 in.H 120.65 cm x W 182.88 cm x D 6.35 cm
  • Seller Location
    York County, PA
  • Seller Reference Number
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About the Seller

5 / 5
1stdibs seller since 2008
Located in York County, PA
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