"PERHAPS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL AND MOST LOVED OF ANY STARS AND STRIPES": "GREAT STAR" AMERICAN 36-STAR FLAG COMMEMORATING NEVADA STATEHOOD, THE FIRST POST-CIVIL WAR U.S. FLAG
(AMERICANA) (NEVADA). Thirty-six star U.S. flag. No place: circa 1865. Cotton and wool flag measuring 6 by 11 feet, with five-point stars arrayed in a Great Star pattern; top and bottom stripes red, blue canton extends to the seventh stripe and rests on the eighth [white] stripe; housed in a triangular oak display box. $12,500.
Large 36-star American flag commemorating Nevada statehood, the first flag to appear after the Civil War, with stars arrayed in a "Great Star" pattern, "widely regarded as the most beautiful of the Stars and Stripes."
"Although Nevada became a state while the Civil War was in progress, its membership in the Union was not officially recognized by Congress until July 4, 1865, several months after the war was over" (Druckman & Kohn, 56). The 36-star flag was official until 1867, when a star was added for Nebraska; Andrew Johnson was the only president who served under this flag. "The United States expanded rapidly during the second half of the 19th century as new states joined the union…. Until 1912, no regulation governed the arrangement or uniformity of the stars" (Pierce Collection, 9). "The 36-star flag, which became official on July 4, 1865, typically contained five rows of stars" (Leepson, 94). The flag offered here instead has stars arrayed in "the once-illustrious 'Great Star,' perhaps the most beautiful and most loved of any Stars and Stripes. In this splendid form, the 'starry flower of Liberty'—as the flag was named by Oliver Wendell Holmes—held sway during the era of national expansion: 1818 to the end of the Civil War… The 'Great Star' pattern boasted venerable antecedents. One of the earliest motifs of American heraldry, in 1782 it appeared on the Great Seal of the United States… To this day a 'Great Star' adorns the reverse side of the one dollar bill" (Mastai & Mastai, 99-100). "One 19th-century design for flags—rarely found but popular with collectors today—gathered the stars on the canton in a large star configuration, called the 'Great Star' or 'Great Luminary' pattern" (Druckman & Kohn, 21). "The Great Star pattern has an extraordinary folk art quality and is widely regarded as the most beautiful of the Stars and Stripes" (Pierce Collection, 16). Stars of various sizes appearing together, as with this flag, are often seen on "Great Star" flags. This flag has cotton stripes and double-appliqued cotton stars on a wool canton, with all elements machine-stitched. A one-and-one-half by three-inch cotton label with an India ink inscription is sewn on the hoist side of the 12th stripe; this label appears to read "Henry Jury," possibly the ownership label of a veteran of that name from Rife, PA, who served in the Pennsylvania Volunteer Militia during the Civil War and who died in 1918. See Keim & Keim, 123, 128; Pierce Collection, 18.
Flag with loss to top hoist end and top and bottom fly ends, eight-inch tear to bottom of canton, eight-inch tear to fly end of fourth (white) stripe, minor soiling and some small holes. Blue canton faded to buff. A lovely example of the desirable "Great Star" flag.