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As the Civil War drew to a close, the Union welcomed Nevada as its 36th state in October 1864, an event commemorated by the creation of flags bearing 36 stars. This era, characterized by a steadfast pursuit of unity and an imminent victory for the Union, saw the introduction of a unique flag design that mirrored the nation's evolving landscape. The 36-star flag, notable for its inclusion of Nevada and the hopeful restoration of the Union, featured a distinctive medallion pattern that was both symbolic and visually compelling.

The medallion on this flag consisted of an oval arrangement, with 21 stars forming the outer ring and 14 stars making up the inner ring, encircling a large, prominent central star. This configuration was a departure from the more commonly seen circular medallions with corner stars. The absence of corner stars in this design emphasized the flag's central theme of unity, with the large center star possibly symbolizing Nevada itself or the enduring strength of the Federal Government amidst the tumult of war. The choice of an oval medallion, coupled with this unique star arrangement, rendered this flag an exceptional artifact of its time.

Constructed from wool bunting, the 36-star flag was crafted with meticulous attention to detail. Its canton and stripes were hand-sewn, which is often seen on Civil War era flags. The stars, made from cotton, were attached to the canton using lineal treadle-machine stitching that followed the edges and crossed through the stars. This was a more difficult process for the seamstress, since sewing machines of the era were unwieldy and stars were often still hand sewn to flags. Thus the flag is a testament to the technological advancements of the era and the skilled craftsmanship involved in the flag's production.

The 36-star flag served as a powerful symbol during the final months of the Civil War and the early years of Reconstruction. It represented not only the addition of Nevada to the Union but also the hope for national healing and the reintegration of the seceded states. Due to its rarity and the unique context of its creation, this beautiful 36-star flag with its oval medallion pattern holds significant historical value. The flag was found in 1954 in a steamer trunk in the attic of a home owned by the Drake family in Rye, New Hampshire, and was carefully preserved and cared for by the Wiggin family for the past 70 years. Its distinctive design and the craftsmanship involved in its production make it a prized example among flags of this era.

Learn more about the Medallion Pattern on early American flags. Star Count: 36

Date: 1865-1867

Era: Civil War Era to Reconstruction

Statehood: Nevada

Construction: Hand Sewn Wool Bunting with Machine Stitched Cotton Stars

Catalog Number: IAS-00551




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