flags have a particular charm, and those made under
times of hardships, where materials are scarce are often
the most whimsical and folky examples one can encounter.
The materials and construction of this flag are
consistent with the Civil War era, and it is likely that
this flag was made during this period in time. Prior to
the Civil War, flags were typically used for naval and
maritime purposes, or for civic purposes. It was only
during the Civil War that Americans began making and
flying large numbers of homemade flags to show their
patriotism and dedication to the country. Flags were
made for rallies and parades, and to hang from
businesses and homes.
This is a wonderful example of a "make do" flag, so
named because the maker gathered and used fabrics that
they found at hand, thus making do with whatever they
could find. The flag itself is made of a single sheet of
white heavy cotton fabric. The stripes are made of a
thin, fragile cotton fabric. The cornflower blue canton
is made of a polished cotton chintz fabric. The maker
created two cantons, both with the same pattern of "X"
shaped polished cotton stars, and sewed one canton
back-to-back on each side of the flag. They also sewed
the red stripes on top of the white fabric. This method
of creating a flag, where the canton and stripes are
sewn to a single sheet of white, is rarely seen in flag
making. The canton of this flag sits partially on a red
stripe, a situation known as the "blood stripe". The
canton is particularly small, the red stripes are very
narrow, producing a candy stripe effect.
Another notable flag in the Rare Flags collection,
IAS-00090, has several similar traits in terms of
construction and materials. It too dates to the Civil
War period; it has stripes made of a very similar thin
red cotton material, and the body of the flags are made
of similar heavy cotton sheeting; and it also has a
canton that sits on the blood stripe. Together, these
two rare flags are among most visually recognizable and
unique representations of the American flag that survive
from the period of the Civil War.