Rare Northern Virginia Confederate battle flag highlights Western & Historic Americana auction

An exceptional 10th Army of Northern Virginia Confederate battle flag (estimate $400,000-$600,000) will hit the auction block at Cowan’s Historic & Western Americana auction on Dec. 3-5, 2008.

Hand-sewn a month after the battle of Gettysburg in August of 1863, the flag contains hand-painted names of Confederate victory battles in Virginia. These include the battles of Port Republic, Fredericksburg, Cedar Run and Gettysburg. The losses in the lower right portion of the flag are believed to be missing as a result of “souvenirs” taken by veterans of Gettysburg and other battles.

Another high profile item for sale is a remarkable two-volume archive of photographs, titled Uniforms of Enlisted Men of the U.S. (estimate $30,000-$50,000). The volumes contain 45 exquisitely hand-tinted photographs documenting the uniforms of the various branches of the United States Union Army, including the infantry, artillery and cavalry branches. Historians believe the archive may have been made to supply contractors with a “template” to ensure quality control of the uniforms.

A rare mammoth plate photograph of Abraham Lincoln by Alexander Gardner (estimate $10,000-$15,000) will also garner attention. The 15-inch by 18 1/2-inch photograph is only the second known mammoth plate photograph of Lincoln to appear at auction in recent memory.

Two volumes of photographs of uniforms of enlisted men of the U.S. Union Army

Both 13 1/2 inches by 11 inches, containing 45 exquisitely hand-tinted 6-inch by 8-inch albumen photographs, mounted to heavy cream-colored cardstock with gilt edges. Each image captioned in inked manuscript hand. These images document the uniforms of the various branches of the United States Army – infantry, artillery, and cavalry.

The origin of these images is not well known; they are exceptionally rare, but at the same time well-known to many collectors and scholars. Illustrations made from these plates appear consistently in the literature describing uniforms and equipment of the Union.

Rare mammoth plate Alexander Gardnew photograph of Abraham Lincoln

Albumen print, 15 inches by 18 1/2 inches, mounted on larger gold ruled 18-inch by 22-inch cream mount with Gardner’s imprint. Inscribed in ink on verso “Abraham Lincoln. Sunday Morning Febry 26th 1865.” The last photograph of Lincoln – only six copies were printed when the negative was accidentally broken.

The image was one of at least six plates exposed by Gardner on Sunday, Nov. 8, 1863 – its size alone represents a rarity. We know of but a single example of a mammoth plate photograph of Lincoln appearing at auction in recent memory, this being a pristine copy of 0-74 which was sold as part of the Lloyd Ostendorf collection of Lincolniana (Bonham’s & Butterfields, Nov. 23, 2004, Lot 9077).
Provenance: Descended in the family of Colonel Oliver Perry Taylor, of the 161st Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

About Cowan’s Auctions, Inc.

As one of the nation’s leading auction houses with sales approaching $20 million, Cowan’s has been helping individuals and institutions build important collections for more than a decade. The company’s four divisions of Historical Americana, American Indian and Western Art, American and European Fine and Decorative Art, and Historic Firearms & Early Militaria hold semi-annual cataloged sales that routinely set records for rare offerings. Recent specialty auctions have featured dolls, toys, advertising, clocks, watches, shaving mugs and barbershop collectibles.

Through its extensive mailing list of more than 33,000 collectors, dealers and institutional clients, each Cowan’s auction typically attracts more than 1,000 bidders from across the globe. To learn more about Cowan’s visit their Web site at www.cowans.com.

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