Whimsical Civil War Homemade Flag with 33-Star and 35-Star Cantons

This is an unique and incredibly unusual flag where the finished side of the canton has 33 stars, yet the reverse has 35 stars. Close examination of the canton fabric reveals that no stars appear to be missing, indicating this intriguing star pattern was intentional. The stars are double applique, but none of the stars mimic locations on opposite side, which most professional seamstresses would have done. Because the flag was created by an individual, instead of produced by a professional company, it is impossible to determine the exact maker or date of the flag. However, all materials do indicate that it was a Civil War-era flag. 

The flag is a mix of materials; at least two different red buntings are used, blue bunting and blue twill can be found on the canton, and the white stripes are cotton, with repairs made in a soft white wool-blend. The flag is all hand-sewn with several different threads, which appear to be a mix of the 2 and 3 ply S-twist threads commonly seen during the Civil War. Flag has seen use and has later repairs, but even those all appear to be done with thread contemporary to the Civil War. Examination of the fly edge reveals that the flag was longer at one time, but has had several repairs including a 1-1/2″ fly edging made from two different pieces of red fabric; the same red fabric was used to make other repairs on flag.

35 stars on the canton reflect the addition of America's 35th state -- West Virginia. The large center star in the middle of the double circular pattern represents the new state. The secession of West Virginia from Virginia, which resulted in the introduction of another state in the Union, carved from one of the southern states, lead to great tension between various sympathizers of either cause, especially along the Virginia-West Virginia and West-Virginia-Ohio borders.  35-star flags are the only count that falls squarely into the active period of the Civil War. Furthermore, ten or eleven stars on each side have been dyed or painted black at one time, possibly representing the seceding Confederate states leaving the Union. 

This is striking piece of American folk art- a true, handmade relic of Civil War America. 

Flag has been archivally presented in a custom-built black wooden frame. The flag is mounted vertically, displaying the 33-star canton side. Framed dimensions: 72” H x 52” W x 1.5” D.




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