31-star American flag flew high at Hindman historical sale

Circa-1850s 30-star American flag, $18,750

Circa-1850s 31-star American flag, $18,750

CINCINNATI – A collection of Civil War-era broadsides and ephemera from respected collector James Milgram, M.D., sent Hindman’s American Historical Ephemera & Photography auction to a $793,755 total across the two days of the sale. Held November 3 and 4, the auction featured more than 630 lots spanning the breadth of American history from the earliest days of European colonization to the modern day.

Dr. James W. Milgram is well known in the American Historical Ephemera category, having authored more than 650 articles and eight books while remaining an active collector and senior member of the prestigious Collectors Club of Chicago. The offerings from Milgram in the November sale were comprised of an important assemblage of printed ephemera, including many broadsides, posters and sale-bills that miraculously stood the test of time.

Reward broadside for John Wilkes Booth, reflecting the original sum offered, $31,250

Reward broadside for John Wilkes Booth, reflecting the original sum offered, $31,250

Civil War-era broadsides from the collection were in high demand during the auction, led by the earliest and rarest reward broadside for John Wilkes Booth, which beat its estimate to achieve $31,250. Issued by Colonel Lafayette C. Baker, this is the first handbill regarding Booth in the immediate aftermath of the Lincoln assassination, offering a $30,000 reward for his capture and providing a detailed description of the actor-turned-assassin. Very shortly after the issuing of the handbill, the reward was increased to $100,000 before again being raised several times until Booth’s eventual capture, making this one of the few surviving documents that displays the original reward value.

In the textile category, a trio of 19th-century United States flags sold well above their estimates. Although the red and white stripes of the flag have remained consistent since its original design, the alignment of the stars was not formalized until 1912, which yielded a variety of unique, creative designs such as those offered in the auction.

The top lot of the group was an 1850s flag commemorating the admission of California into the union with a large star in the middle surrounded by a field of 30 stars, which earned $18,750. Also reaching five figures was a 35-star Great Star pattern Civil War-era flag that went for $17,500 and a centennial parade flag that brought $16,875.

Half plate copy daguerreotype of Zachary Taylor, $13,750

Half plate copy daguerreotype of Zachary Taylor, $13,750

Other highlights from the auction include an autograph album from the 1860-70s that featured more than 140 signatures from luminaries of the time, including Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, which achieved $20,000; an archive assembled by Phillippe d’Orleans, Count of Paris, while writing his 1874 book History of the Civil War in America, which sold for $18,750; and a half plate copy daguerreotype portrait of Zachary Taylor that realized $13,750.


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