pattern flags are both majestic and eye catching.
The period from the start of the American Civil War to
the American Centennial is the pinnacle of medallion
flag making in America, and this flag, originally owned
by a man of unknown origins named William Cowan, is a
wonderful folk art example of the form. Found in
Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, the flag
itself is made of an unusual combination of white cotton
for the stripes and stars, red blanket wool for the
stripes, and blue blended wool for the canton. It's
clear that the flag was made from whatever materials
were at hand in the midst of the war.
One unusual and charming aspect of the flag is that its
canton only spans five stripes, rather than the typical
seven stripes. While the diminutive canton is no
less impressive owing to its beautiful star pattern, the
form of the flag accentuates the stripes beautifully,
and is stylistically reminiscent of earlier flags
where the "broad stripes" have visual precedence over
the canton. The rare star pattern on this flag can
be visualized several different ways. Five large
stars anchor the canton--one in the center and one in
each corner. Although the smaller stars generally
appear scattered and nearly random, they could actually
be considered as an unusual "circle-in-square"
medallion, with an outer square of stars, with three
small stars along the top and bottom edges of the
canton, and four small stars along the left and right
edges of the canton. A wreath of eight stars
surrounds the large center star, and above and below the
wreath are two arched rows of four stars each.