University Archives


The 1st Post-Civil War U.S. Flag, 1865 36-Star American Parade Flag Commemorating Nevada Statehood

(NEVADA). Thirty-six star printed U.S. flag. No place: circa 1865. Printed cotton flag measuring approximately 27.5" x 19", with five-point stars arrayed in a six-star, six-row phalanx pattern; top and bottom stripes red, blue canton extends to the seventh stripe and rests on the eighth [white] stripe. Handsomely framed, entire piece measures 35.5" x 27". Five small holes to fly end where flag was mount to a pole. Nominal fraying to edges. A beautifully framed Civil-War era flag.

36-star printed American parade flag commemorating Nevada statehood, the first flag to appear after the Civil War.

“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). Although not considered a Civil War flag, this flag nevertheless contains elements of Civil War-era flags: “The preference of Civil War flagmakers was clearly for horizontal and vertical alignment of stars; that is, complete parallelism of rows…. The collective visual effect of Civil War flags is, therefore, one of hypnotic rhythm—the embattled stars, drawn up in military order in defense of the threatened Union, stride on relentlessly. Star patterns of this sort, denser now and necessarily smaller, may be described as ‘phalanx’ or ‘battalion’ arrangements” (Mastai & Mastai, 123). “The thirty-six star flag… typically contained five rows of stars. The first, third, and fifth rows held eight stars each; the second and fourth rows had six each” (Leepson, 94). The flag offered here has the phalanx pattern in an unusual configuration of six rows of six five-pointed stars each. This 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). “While Civil War flags escaped much of the mortal rigidity of mechanical mass production, their artistic merit was more particularly due to the delicate design relationship of the elements and to numerous subtle details—such as the directions of the arms of the stars, which are never entirely regimented, as they are on modern flags. And truly no modern replica can either do justice to the artistic character, or render the ‘patina,’ of one of these antique flags” (Mastai & Mastai, 124). Parade flags generally were designed for one day’s use at a parade, political assembly, or rally; this flag was obviously flown for an extended period of time, causing the soiling seen at the fly end.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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