Hand-Sewn 21-Star American National Linen Flag, Circa 1860

Presented is an impressive 21-star flag circa 1860-1865. This is a southern-exclusionary 21-star flag constructed during the period of the American Civil War. The number of stars on this flag represent the number of states that remained loyal to the Union during the war.

The original 21 star count on flags would have dated back to 1819, when James Monroe was president and Illinois was admitted as the 21st state. However, this unique flag dates to the 1860s, just at the beginning of the Civil War. Against President Abraham Lincoln's wishes, this flag was produced by anti-southern patriots to emphasize the importance of the states that remained with the Union during war. Lincoln encouraged Americans not to produce southern-exclusionary flags, as he saw great value in remaining a unified body under one flag. This flag varies from the official flag variant of the time, which would have had 34 stars in the first two years of the war.

The star configuration on this flag is quite unique as well. 21 single-appliqued stars appear on a medium-blue canton. The appliqued stars all surround a single, larger star in the center. The stars vary in shapes and sizes, as they are all hand-cut. The entire flag is made up of linen with hand-stitching across the entire field. The flag features a large blue canton and vibrant red and white stripes, all with excellent coloring considering the flag's age. Various small repairs have been made by a previous owner, all in hand-stitching.


Hand-cut and sewn linen flag with vibrant coloring and 21 appliqued stars. This flag features various cut and patched strips of fabric, as the flag creator must have been working with pieces of linen fabric varying in length and shape to produce such a large flag. Hand-cut stars vary in size and shape, with large central star, a very loose medallion encircling center star, four outlying stars, and other stars placed throughout the canton. The stripes are made up of a few strips of fabric that have been sewn together.

Hand-stitched repairs across the field with minor loses and some significant staining. Many holes have been previously repaired, specifically across the canton. Blue canton is larger at top, most likely due to added fabric to compensate for the size of the stars. The entire linen flag has been expertly preserved in a custom black frame with gold accents. The flag has been framed according to the highest conservation standards.

Framed dimensions: 52 ½” H x 76" W x 3 ½” D.

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