Flag conservation

Flag conservation
Textile conservator, Gwen Spicer of Spicer Art Conservation at work

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

A United States Color Troop's Flag Marker Found in a Small Local LIbrary!

Remarkable historical artifacts can be found in so many places, not always in museums or historical societies. Here is a story of a remarkable flag marker found at a small library in Western New York State. Spicer Art Conservation, LLC has previously treated another USCT flag (read about it here).

The library's director with the framed flag before treatment.   

The flag marker is a silk 35-Star National flag with a 6/6/6/5/6/6 star pattern located in the canton. Embroidered in yellow and light blue silk threads on the strips with "26 / U.S.C.T." The small flag measures 17 7/8" H x 24 1/2" W. All of the seams are flat-feld. The blue silk hoist is a folded over to create a sleeve with four holes that were used to attach the flag to its staff. A small fragment of the fly edge survived. 

Drawing of the flag's construction. In the drawing a small vertical section
of the stitched fly edge can be seen.

The 26th USCT is one of three troops from New York State. It turns out that it is also called 26th Regiment New York Infantry (Colored). The 26th Regiment was organized at Riker's Island, New York harbor, in February 27, 1864. The unit was commanded under Col. William Silliman. 

Below, is the surviving regimental flag for the unit, beautifully embroidered with silk bullion fringe. 

A beautifully embroidered regimental flag for this unit still exists and
is held in the collections of the Division of Military Naval Affairs.
Embroidered at the lower section is "GOD AND LIBERTY".

At one point in the flag's history, it had been glue to a laminated board. Excessive glue was used.

The flag glued to the board once removed from the frame.

The slow process of removing the laminated back board that the flag was glued.

The vast majority of the paper board layers were able to be removed. But still not all could be removed safely with out damaging the silk. The small areas were determined to stay.

Encapsulated flag, showing the reverse side.
Once the flag was encapsulated, it was then positioned onto a prepared aluminum honeycomb panel. Layers of needle-punch batting are incorporated to create the best pressure with the covering UV-filtered Plexiglas.

Attaching the show covered fabric to the mount.

The flag was positioned onto the prepared mount, covered with UV-filtered Plexiglas and secured with a powder-coated aluminum frame.  
Completed and mounted flag.


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