American Flag, 1860’s

CONSTRUCTION:  cotton fabric; hand pieced and stitched; appliqué stars in circular patterns; heavy weight sleeve at left with brown cord looped through

DIMENSIONS:  W 72 x H 43 ½ inches

This American flag was made during the American Civil War, in upstate New York.  The town had no flag, so its school teacher raised the money, bought the fabric, and made it herself. The pattern is typical of the early war years.

The fabric of the flag is weak, especially the red stripes.  There are several areas of weakness, splits, and losses in the red stripes.  The flag has previous repairs, probably in two major series.

Previous repairs, some of which cause distortions, prevent the flag from lying flat.

Heavy overall discoloration, with spots of darker discoloration, especially visible in the white stripes.  General wear and fading.

Treatment Summary: Stitching preventing the flag from lying flat were removed.

Supported on  polyester screen, immersed in cleaning solution of 0.5% EDTA (1:1 di:tetra sodium salts) and 0.2% WA Paste (neutral detergent) in warm water.

Rinsed in three successive water baths, the last of which was deionized.  Blocked onto toweling, changing toweling as necessary until dry.

Lightly pressed.

Centered on padded backboard made from archival quality materials, blocked and stitched using fine polyester thread and curved needle.  Large areas of loss, and tears, were covered with appropriately colored nylon net (previously washed) and stitched.

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