36-Star Medallion Hand-cut and Hand-sewn Campaign Flag, Circa 1865

This is a 36-star medallion American flag with a rare star pattern and campaign connection. 36 stars celebrate the addition of Nevada to the Union and officially flew from July 4, 1865 to July 3, 1867, under President Andrew Johnson.

Flags of the American Civil War period are among the most sought after of all American flags. Prior to the Civil War, Americans rarely displayed the flag for personal use. The events of the Civil War, starting even prior to the commencement of the war with the introduction of Kansas into the Union as the 34th state and the election of President Abraham Lincoln in 1861, marked a turning point in both the surge of patriotism and the production and display of the American flag.

Although Nevada became a state while the Civil War was in progress, on October 31st, 1864, Congress did not officially add its star to the flag until July 4, 1865, several months after the war was over. So while many consider 36-star flags “Reconstruction flags” given their official fly time, the actual period of the 36-star flag spans almost six months into the end of the Civil War and the final surrender at Appomattox Court House. In fact, 36-star flags were officially issued to Army regiments that required new flags during those last six months of fighting. 36-star flags were also used in jubilant parades nationwide to celebrate the end of the Civil War, as well as in more solemn ceremonies mourning the death of President Lincoln and fallen soldiers.

On the canton, a close examination shows a faint, blue, hand-drawn political campaign jugate stitching pattern at the center of the stars.  The candidates appear to be Cleveland and Thurman, who ran in the 1888 U.S. Presidential election for the Democratic party.  Although the candidate illustration is not contemporaneous to the original construction, it demonstrates the longevity and family retention of this heirloom, with the intent to repurpose it for a Presidential campaign.  Obviously the Cleveland/Thurman campaign was lost soon enough in the update that the seamstress chose not to proceed with the portrait.

This is a truly spectacular piece of Americana, a significant addition to any serious Civil War or flag collection.


This flag is stable. The all cotton flag has 36 hand-sewn stars and treadle-sewn stripes. Jugate design in canton. Along the reinforced cotton hoist are three period cloth ties. A frayed decorative trim embellishes the fly end, indicating possible use as a banner.

Old repair to canton’s top left corner at hoist, as well as hand stitch reinforcement to cotton ties.  Machine selvaged top and bottom edges.  Occasional small holes. Canton and trim are faded. Some soiling and staining visible in white stripes. Flag measures 103 ½” x 57 ½”.

Flag has been archivally mounted and presented floating in a custom-built frame. Flag has been folded under itself, with conservation stitches holding the flag in place, to reduce overall frame size. Framed dimensions: 76"H x 88"W x 2"D.

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