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This extremely rare flag is one of a pair of flags that surfaced together in a single lot, with nearly identical construction and qualities.  The other flag, IAS-00316, features 12 stars, whereas this flag features 15 stars.  Aside from the difference in star count, both flags are made of wool bunting with single-appliqué cotton stars.  Both flags are nearly the same size, and are entirely hand sewn.  On this flag, the stars peek through to what in modern times is considered the front of the flag, whereas on the 12 star flag, the stars peek through to the back of the flag.  Both flags have brass grommets, and both have cantons made of the same blue wool bunting, which is of a finer weave than the wool of the red and white stripes.  This flag has all of the qualities expected on a flag made for Navy use as a small boat flag, and it's my belief that this is the flag's purpose.  Navy ensigns of 16 stars and 20 stars that date to the Civil War period are well known, though scarce.  Yet these two flags are the only that I'm aware of in the unusual counts of 15 and 12.  More commonly, 13 star flags in either the 4-5-4 or 3-2-3-2-3 pattern were also used for this purpose.  But the unexpected star counts of 16, 20, and these of 15 and 12, have symmetrical blocks of large stars that nearly fill the canton.  Very few antique American flags of any period feature 15 stars.  The beautiful folky quality of this flag, with its large stars, which rotate freely on their axis, along with its extraordinary condition and rare small size, and most important, the only small boat flag in this star count that I am aware of, make it exceptionally rare and important early American flag.

Click here to learn about the parts of an American flag. Star Count:  15 Stars

Dates:  circa 1861-1865

War Era:  Civil War

Statehood:  Kentucky

Construction:  Wool Bunting with Cotton Stars

Catalog Number:  IAS-00317


13 Stars, Cowpens Pattern,
William Henry Harrison 1840

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