35 Star Antique Flag with a Double Wreath Pattern | Made to Commemorate the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry | Circa 1880-1913

35 Star Antique Flag with a Double Wreath Pattern | Made to Commemorate the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry
35 Star Antique Flag with a Double Wreath Pattern | Made to Commemorate the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry
35 Star Antique Flag with a Double Wreath Pattern | Made to Commemorate the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry
35 Star Antique Flag with a Double Wreath Pattern | Made to Commemorate the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry

35 Star Antique Flag with a Double Wreath Pattern | Made to Commemorate the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry | Circa 1880-1913

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Frame Size (H x L): 27” x 35”
Flag Size (H x L): 15.5” x 25”

Offered is a thirty-five star American flag printed on plain weave cotton, commemorating the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry and likely distributed during a reunion thereof. 

The stars are arranged in a pair of concentric circles with twelve stars in the inner circle, and nineteen stars in the outer circle.  There are four flanking stars in the corners of the canton, so as to surround the outer circle of stars.  This star pattern is consistent with the pattern used on Civil War flank markers, referred to as guidons.  Apart from this application, such a star pattern is rarely encountered, and thus is particularly desirable to collectors.   
The “71ST NEW YORK VOL. INFT” is printed across the fourth white stripe.  Above that, “BULL RUN” is printed.  And below that, “FREDRICKSBURG,” “CHANCELLORSVILLE,” and “GETTYSBURG” are printed.  The 71st was called into service in 1861, and included men from Cattaraugus, New York, Delaware, and Ulster counties.  During its three year term, it fought in the battles listed on this flag and in many others.    

This flag was originally discovered at a Pennsylvania flea market.  It was in a roll of approximately a dozen flags.  We purchased this from a North Carolina folk art collector, and he purchased it from the gentleman who acquired the roll at the flea market.  The flags at the outside of the roll were damaged from extended storage, while the inner most flags were protected by those on the outside.  This flag was at the core of the roll, and is among the very best—if not the best—of the surviving examples.

Due to the unique nature of this flag’s cotton and paint printing, it is difficult to date with certainty.  Some have thought that it may date to as early as 1864.  And on the other end of the spectrum, some have thought that it may date to as late as 1915.  Most parade flags that date to 1864 to 1880 were made of coarse cotton and used dyes that fade to orange.  This flag lacks those characteristics, and thus we believe that it must date to 1880 or later.  We also believe that this flag dates to 1913 or earlier, based on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg being a logical “no-later than date.”  With all of this in combination, we date this flag to between 1880 and 1913.     

The combination of the reference to New York, the battle honors, the star count, and the star pattern have made this a must have flag for serious collectors.  In fact, this style of flag is held in J. Richard Pierce Collection, the Kit Hinrichs’ Collection, and the Rare Flags’ Collection. 

The thirty-five star flag represents the inclusion of West Virginia to the Union.  West Virginia was admitted on June 20th, 1863, and this flag became official on July 4th 1863.  The thirty-five star flag is the only flag that (1) represents a state admitted during the Civil War time period, and that also (2) became official during the Civil War.  Because it was official for a short time period—around 18 months—and because so many flags were produced in 1861 and 1862, period thirty-five star flags are scarce and the most desirable of the Civil War counts.    

The thirty-five star flag was official until July 4th, 1865, the time at which the thirty-six star flag official and began to represent the inclusion of Nevada 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 Conservation Clear Acrylic (standard) or behind Optium Museum Acrylic (per request).

Frame: This flag is in a painted corner block frame, dating to approximately 1840.     

Condition Report: This flag exhibits some minor staining and foxing.  In other respects, it is crisp, bright, and among the best—if not the best—of this style of flag.

Collectability Level: The Extraordinary – Museum Quality Offerings
Date of Origin: 1880-1913  
Number of Stars: 35   
Associated War: Civil War (1861-1865)
Associated State: West Virginia  

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