Extraordinary and Large 31 Star Antique Flag | California Statehood | Circa 1850-1858

31 Star Antique Flag
31 Star Antique Flag
4. X-Large Distressed Black.jpg
Large Frames.JPG
X-Large Frames.JPG
31 Star Antique Flag
31 Star Antique Flag
4. X-Large Distressed Black.jpg
Large Frames.JPG
X-Large Frames.JPG

Extraordinary and Large 31 Star Antique Flag | California Statehood | Circa 1850-1858

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Price: Call 618-553-2291, or email info@bonsellamericana.com
Frame Size (H x L): 33.5” x 47.5”
Flag Size (H x L): 21.5” x 35.5”

Offered is an incredible thirty-one star flag printed on coarse cotton.  It was originally discovered, in Ohio, in the attic of a general store.  The individual who found it was a descendant of the original owners.  This flag was found with several other antique flags, including a forty-four star flag. 

Thirty-one star flags are extremely rare, both because they were official for only eight years and because they were made before the Civil War.  Flags predating the Civil War time period (1861-1865) are the rarest and most desirable of all US flags.  Prior to the Civil War, Americans did not typically display flags for patriotic purposes.  And likewise the military did not regularly use the flag, as it was not until 1834 that the army field artillery was permitted to carry the traditional US flag, and it was not until 1841 that regiments carried it.  For these reasons, flags made prior to the Civil War account for only around 1-in-100 flags made in the 19th century.    

The stars of this flag are arranged in a gorgeous and highly desirable medallion pattern.  This particular medallion includes a large star in the middle, two rings of stars surrounding the large star, and a flanking star in each corner of the canton.  The large canted star in the middle is sometimes referred to as a “center star.”  A center star is different than a great star, a term used to describe a star made up of smaller stars.  A center star is almost always positioned in the very middle of the canton.  The rest of the stars are then positioned around the center star, and form various different patterns.  The center star represents the newest state added to the Union (e.g., California in the case of this thirty-one star flag).  

Notice that the large center star includes two parts: a bold center star and a surrounding halo.  Haloed flags are extremely attractive and collectible.  The maker of this flag is unknown, but it is clear that the same company produced most, if not all, haloed flags, including flags with thirty, thirty-one, thirty-four, thirty-five, thirty-six, and forty-two stars.  The very earliest printed flags are twenty-six star flags, and they were produced between 1837 and 1845, meaning that this thirty-one star flag is only a few years newer than the very earliest of all printed flags.  

The stripes of this particular flag are closer to orange than red.  Such a color is a result of the use of either madder or cochineal to create the red dye, and is common in flags dating between 1850 and 1880.  The orange color of the “red” stripes is very attractive.   

As noted above, the thirty-one star flag represents the inclusion of California to the Union.  California was admitted on September 9th, 1850, and this flag became official on July 4th, 1851.  The thirty-one star flag was official until July 4th, 1858, the time at which the thirty-two star flag became official and began to represent the inclusion of Minnesota in the Union. 

Conservation Process: This flag was hand sewn to cotton fabric, and both were hand sewn to a mounting board.  To prevent the black dye in the cotton fabric from seeping into the flag, it was first washed in a standard wash and then in a dye setting wash.  The flag is positioned behind a UV resistant acrylic, and spaced apart therefrom using spacers. 

Frame: This offering is in our X-Large Distressed Black Frame.  However, it can be reframed and would like great using any one of our Large or X-Large Frames, which are shown in the final two images.  The pricing associated with the different framing options may vary.  Reframing of an offering may delay shipment by up to two weeks.    

Condition Report: As shown in the images, this flag has several nail holes along its hoist strip, indicating that this flag was originally attached to a staff.  Several of the white stars have suffered from insect nips, a trait common in flags this old.  This damage is masked with white cotton.  There are several tears in along the left edge of the canton.  These tears have been stabilized through our conservation process.  There are stains and foxing along the red and white stripes.  The fly edge is slightly frayed, perhaps from being flown or alternatively from being rolled and stored.  Despite all of this, the flags is stunning and age appropriate in appearance.  Flags of this caliber are highly desired by collectors, regardless of condition.       

Collectability Level: The Extraordinary – Museum Quality Offerings   
Date of Origin: 1850-1858  
Number of Stars: 31
Associated State: California  

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