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Subject: Storing silk flag

Storing silk flag

From: Anne Lane <alane<-a>
Date: Monday, November 3, 2008
We have recently unpacked a silk flag that was given to the museum
in 1982. It was stored in a box, its folds padded with tissue. The
date appliqued on the flag is July 4, 1836, although we don't yet
know whether this is a later commemorative of an earlier happening.
The flag measures roughly 60 inches high x 80 inches wide. It is of
a very thin plain weave silk with a glossy finish, and has appliques
of the same type of fabric in a contrasting color. The silk is in
narrow strips, sewn together lengthwise with flat felled seams. The
top and bottom are selvedge edges, unhemmed. The two sides are
hemmed, and four lengths of doubled-over ribbon are sewn to the
hoist side, presumably to attach it to a pole. The appliques are
sewn down with borders of a dull olive green braid, quite narrow,
probably machine made. I don't know what this fabric is, but it
feels like cotton or possibly wool. All stitching is by hand.

The fabric of the flag itself is in remarkably good condition,
fragile but not shattering. At some time in the past, patches of
silk were sewn to the back of the flag to reinforce the corners
where they were somewhat worn. These patches have shattered and are
pretty much lost. A fine linen backing, machine hemmed, was also
sewn to all but the bottom three inches of the flag. It is attached
around the sides and top with running stitches. These are long on
the back but very short where they go through the silk. In some
places the silk has come loose from the stitches, and along the fly
end, there are some long rips along the stitching line. The linen
does not conform well to the silk, probably because of the
irregularity of the flag fabric due to its strip construction and
the appliques. It is quite obvious that folding or rolling put
strains on the silk fabric because of the ill-fitting backing and
irregular seams.

I have two questions. Should I remove the backing from the silk to
alleviate some of the strain? and, assuming I have no room to store
the flag flat, would it be better to roll it or to fold it? And yes,
we will probably be consulting a textile conservator once we have
settled the identity and provenance of the flag. Right now it's a
mystery object.

Anne T. Lane
Collections Manager
The Charlotte Museum of History and Hezekiah Alexander Homesite
3500 Shamrock Drive
Charlotte, NC  28215-3214
704-568-1774 ext 110
Fax: 704-566-1817

                  Conservation DistList Instance 22:27
                 Distributed: Sunday, November 9, 2008
                       Message Id: cdl-22-27-017
Received on Monday, 3 November, 2008

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