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    Unique 21 Star Silk American National Flag whose marvelous animated embroidered stars are configured in a double irregular medallion-like pattern of ten stars encircling a wreath of five stars with smaller stars interspersed between each star of the inner medallion or wreath, all surrounding a central star. There are actually two full similar but non-identical flags that are sewn back-to-back so that their unfinished stripes on the reverse are not visible. The metallic fringe, on three sides, and the braided red silk rope along the hoist (left side of a flag) are all hand-sewn with the identical red thread and collectively hold the two flags together. The embroidered stars and the irregularity of the star configuration add greatly to the folk art appeal of this flag, a wonderful example of the first truly American folk art form.

    The cantons and all stripes are hand-sewn silk. On one flag, the 4th white stripe is pieced below the canton while stripes 8, 9, 10, and 11 are pieced near the hoist on the other flag. Piecing of fabric is thought to be the result of the scarcity of materials at the time a flag was fabricated. The silk does not appear to be "weighted." The "weighting" of silk, to increase its cost as a raw material, probably began in the late 1820s to 1830 period. By the Civil War, most commercially and professionally prepared silk flags, including Federal standards, regimental flags, and Stars and Stripes, were made of "weighted" silk which accounts for the severe age damage most have experienced. (Purchaser could have flag chemically analyzed to ascertain definitively if flag is made of "weighted" silk, and if so, what metallic salt was utilized.)

    The braided rope, along the hoist side, includes five integral loops that presently hang from a modern café curtain rod. In addition, there are two later black silk satin ties that are used to attach the upper and lower loops to the café rod. The flag has been most recently arranged to hang as a vertical flag banner.

    There is included historical provenance that this flag belonged to Adam Miller, a flag bearer in the Light Guard (a company within the 12th Regiment, 4th Brigade, New York Militia) during the 1850s. The flag was given to Miller and his wife by the wife of his former commander, a Captain Roth, as a 50th wedding anniversary gift in 1906 since Miller was the last surviving member of his company.

    Illinois was admitted into the Union, as the 21st State, on December 3, 1818 with this flag being officially used from July 4, 1819 until July 3, 1820.

    Although embroidered stars are more commonly found in the canton of flags made between the Civil War and 1876, the Centennial Anniversary of American Independence, the unusual stars found in this flag are of the quality and technique seen in samplers of the period when Illinois was admitted into the Union. To date, five or six period flags are known to have survived from Illinois Statehood; none are made of silk nor do any have embroidered stars. This flag measures approximately 32.5" x 40".

    Condition: Very good considering age, material, and usage. Both flags show some oxidation to the white stripes. There are two very minor areas of staining on one flag. Both flags show fracturing with some fabric loss along the fly end (right side of flag) of numerous white stripes, one flag more so than other, secondary to usage and the weight of the attached fringe when hung as a vertical flag banner.

    We wish to thank Jeffrey Kenneth Kohn, M.D., noted flag historian, for his assistance in evaluating the flag and preparing this catalog entry. In Dr. Kohn's professional opinion, this flag was made during the Illinois Statehood period, circa 1818-1820.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2006
    7th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,932

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