37 Star Antique Flag with a "Great Star" Configuration | Extremely Rare | Nebraska Statehood | Circa 1867-1876

37 Star Antique Flag with a "Great Star" Configuration
37 Star Antique Flag with a "Great Star" Configuration
3. 37 Star Antique Flag with Grand Luminary Configuration.jpg
4. 37 Star Antique Flag with Grand Luminary Configuration.jpg
5. 37 Star Antique Flag with Grand Luminary Configuration.jpg
6. Large Distressed Black and Gold.jpg
7. Large Frames.JPG
8. X-Large Frames.JPG
37 Star Antique Flag with a "Great Star" Configuration
37 Star Antique Flag with a "Great Star" Configuration
3. 37 Star Antique Flag with Grand Luminary Configuration.jpg
4. 37 Star Antique Flag with Grand Luminary Configuration.jpg
5. 37 Star Antique Flag with Grand Luminary Configuration.jpg
6. Large Distressed Black and Gold.jpg
7. Large Frames.JPG
8. X-Large Frames.JPG

37 Star Antique Flag with a "Great Star" Configuration | Extremely Rare | Nebraska Statehood | Circa 1867-1876

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Price: Call 618-553-2291, or email info@bonsellamericana.com 
Frame Size (H x L): 58.5” x 82”
Flag Size (H x L): 46.5” x 70”

Offered is an outstanding thirty-seven star flag.  The stars on this flag are arranged in a "Great Star" pattern, one of the rarest and most beautiful patterns encountered in antique flags.  The Great Star pattern is a large star made of smaller stars.  The smaller stars may be a variety of sizes and be canted in a various directions.  Such a pattern was perfectly acceptable, as prior to President Taft's Executive Order 1556 in 1912, flag makers were free to place the stars however they wished. 

US Naval Captain Samuel Reid is credited with designing the Great Star pattern in 1818.  Captain Reid was an officer in the US Navy and commanded the privateer General Armstrong during the War of 1812.  Andrew Jackson credited Captain Reid's heroism in delaying the British Squadron in the Battle of Fayal, and aiding in General Jackson's defense of New Orleans.  Captain Reid and his crew were greeted as heroes. 

The Second Flag Act, passed in 1794, stated that the flag would have fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, in response to Vermont and Kentucky being added to the Union.  Knowing that this approach would not be sustainable, with Captain Reid's help, Congress passed the Flag Act of 1818, specifying that the flag should only have thirteen stripes, but should have a star for each state admitted to the Union.  It further specified that the addition of each star should be on the Fourth of July following its respective state's admission. 

Captain Reid played a significant role in the Flag Act of 1818, and recommended a basic design of thirteen horizontal alternating stripes in honor of the thirteen colonies, and a star in honor of each state.  He further recommended several potential star patterns, including twenty stars in the shape of a larger star for general use.  Reid suggested this pattern to make the flag consistent and easily identifiable, particularly at long distances and at sea.  His star pattern recommendation was not ultimately included in the Act, nor was any star pattern, but Captain Reid is universally credited with designing the Great Star pattern.  Its use peaked in the 1840s, but it was also used during the Civil War and occasionally during Centennial Celebrations.  Its last known commercial use was on a thirty-eight star flag.   

The stripes of this flag are made of regular wool, while the canton is made of fine, blended wool—a combination of which is often seen in flags of this era.  The top three stripes are each made of multiple pieces of wool and pieced together (e.g., the top red stripe is made of two pieces of wool).  The canton includes an upper-left portion that is approximately 4” in width, an upper-right portion that is also approximately 4” in width, and a lower portion that is approximately 22” in width.  These three portions are handsewn to one another.   

The stripes are individually cut and handsewn together, the canton is handsewn sewn to the stripes, and the cotton twill hoist is machine sewn to both the stripes and canton, using a treadle stitch.  Treadle stitching was a technical possibility beginning in the 1830s, but not a realistic possibility until the 1850s.  Treadle stitching became relatively common by the 1860s, particularly for sewing the stripes, the canton, and the hoist. 

The stars of this flag are made of cotton, and they are handsewn to both sides of the canton (i.e., double appliqued).  Prior to Singer’s introduction of the electric sewing machine, flag makers using machine stitching had to place each star on the canton, fold its edges under, pump a treadle machine—and while doing all of this—properly move both the star and canton through it.  Because of these difficulties associated with early sewing machines, until 1885, stars were commonly applied by hand—as is the case with this flag.        

The name “Hull,” likely a previous owner, is written vertically on the white stripe that adjoins the bottom of the canton.  Antique flags often include the name of a previous owner, and we consider the inclusion of such information—even when written directly on the flag—to be both positive and interesting. 

This flag is small in size for a piece-and-sewn flag, dating to just after Civil War.  This adds considerably to its appeal, as it can be easily displayed.  It was not until 1861 that small piece-and-sewn flags were made with any frequency at all, and not until the 1890s that they were made with regularity.  During most of the 19th century, flags made with piece-and-sewn construction had a width of at least eight feet, as they were typically used as signaling devices for the military or by sailors.  Even the flags that were used for decorative purposes usually had a width of six feet or more, and versions smaller than this were quite rare. 

The thirty-seven star flag represents the inclusion of Nebraska to the Union.  Nebraska was admitted on March 1st, 1867, and this flag became official on July 4th of the same year.  The thirty-seven star flag was the official flag during a portion of the Reconstruction era, and a portion of the Indian Wars era.  Presidents Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Rutherford B. Hayes all served under this flag. 

Thirty-seven star flags are scarce, relative to thirty-six and thirty-eight star flags.  This is because of a lack of major patriotic events following the Civil War and preceding the centennial.  This is further because thirty-eight star flags were often used to celebrate the centennial, instead of the thirty-seven star flag, even though it was the official star count in 1876.  It was common for flag makers to produce anticipatory flags in advance of their official date, making the thirty-eight star flag—and for historical reasons, the thirteen star flag—the most common flags flown during the centennial celebrations of 1876. 

The thirty-seven star flag was official until July 4th 1877, the time at which the thirty-eight star flag became official and began to represent the inclusion of Colorado to the Union.

Conservation Process: This flag was hand sewn to silk organza, and both were hand sewn to cotton fabric.  The silk organza provides a strong layer of protection and a professional appearance.  The flag, the silk organza, and the cotton fabric were then 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 Conservation Clear Acrylic (standard) or behind Optium Museum Acrylic (per request).   

Frame: This offering is in our Large Black and Gold Frame.  However, it can be reframed and would look great using any one of our standard 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: This flag exhibits minor mothing and small tears throughout its surface.  Its most significant tears are along the top and bottom of the fly end, indicating that this flag was regularly flown.  In most respects, this flag is in very good condition, particularly for a flag of this era and quality.    

Collectability Level: The Extraordinary – Museum Quality Offerings
Date of Origin: 1867-1876  
Number of Stars: 37   
Associated War: The Indian Wars (1860-1890)  
Associated State:
Nebraska  

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