15-Star Confederate Flag, ca. 1861
Appraised Value: $40,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:53)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: It's a flag that I found in one of the chests when my parents passed away, and I think it's from... I had some family members that were in the Civil War, so I think that's what it is.
APPRAISER: At first glance, if you're not familiar with the first national flag of the Confederacy, this kind of looks like an American idea, especially with this tremendous amount of stars that we see in the canton. If you note, there's 15 stars here when there are actually only 11 really significant Confederate states. That actually helps us date this flag. This flag is from the very beginning of the war. It's when the Confederacy hoped to lure other states into secession-- states like Kansas or Maryland. So the stars are more of a wishful thought than actually a pact that has been made. As a matter of fact, they run the gamut from six to 15. Another thing that we see very early on in the war are these neat mottos, like where this flag says, "Victory or death."
APPRAISER: That's a very, very Southern thing. When the war starts, there's this whole idea that no matter what, we will succeed or we'll perish.
GUEST: Was it on a flagpole or was it, like, held?
APPRAISER: This actually could have been out in front of a regiment.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: It could have been carried on a flagpole. It is quite long, but it's not quite so tall. But when this flag was made, there was no battle flag like we see the St. Andrew's cross. This is the true Confederate flag and, again, what they call the first national pattern.
APPRAISER: Your ancestor was involved in this huge, pivotal thing that's going on in American history, and this is a souvenir that, more than likely, he brought home. And it's a great souvenir. The battles you would be thinking of are, like, first Bull Run, or first Manassas. This very possibly could have been used there. It may actually even have some battle damage. Some of these holes may be-- may be-- from shrapnel. It could be burnt. But that could be studied and taken into account for. One of the things that we noticed, I think, when we were putting it out, it's just... it's cumbersome.
APPRAISER: It's big. And you can imagine... and this affects the value. When you get a flag that's this size, it's hard to display. To frame this is fairly expensive, to do it properly. And then once you have it, it's past eight feet long. You'd have to have an enormous wall just to have it on it. But, having said all that, it is a desirable object. These flags with the 15 stars just... you don't ever see them. I mean, it's not to say they don't exist, because obviously you have one, but they're very, very rare.
APPRAISER: It's a classic piece of Southern Americana. It's a great Confederate flag. These mottos, whenever something's written on the flag, just tremendously affect the value. I think in a retail situation, this nice, early flag probably would sell in the range of around $40,000.
GUEST: Oh, really?
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