37 Star U.S. Flag laid upon President Lincoln's casket in Philadelphia, PA 1865.
On April 14, 1865 President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by a Southern sympathizer, a prominent actor, John Wilkes Booth, from a respected family of America's best stage actors of the time. He committed this act in revenge for the Northern triumph over the South during the Great American Civil War. A shocked and stunned country embraced their martyred President as never before. This and other artifacts from the period of the national funeral helps tell the story of the nation's respect for the President who had guided the country through the most terrible war of all wars in its past and also its future todate.

The funeral of Abraham Lincoln was a process rather than an event, and crowds flocked to railroad stations and sidings all along the route from Washington D.C. to Springfield, Illinois. Mementos such as these are quiet rare due to the nature of the pieces and they represent some of the best to survive from that national event.

The practice to have a personal flag placed upon the coffin pressages what today is not only an accepted custom but now a part of the funeral protocol of deceased "Offical" and armed forces personnel. At the time this flag was placed on the President's coffin it was not a wide practice to do such acts. Historians speculate the act of placing the national flag upon coffin or casket as it was referred to then heralds back to the American Civil War. The first such occurance was not recorded, therefore to have such a documented record of such an historically important symbolic show of appreciation and respect for the deceased is quiet remarkable. For it to be President Lincoln makes it all the more desirable and compelling of its importance to this now nationally accepted custom.

This 37 star U.S. flag is believed to be such a memorial piece related to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Text hand written on label under flag:
"Washington DC November 2 1922. This is to certify that this silk flag 16X25.5 with 2 = 1iX16i = Red, White + Blue streamers. Now in possession of Aston Heitmeuller was draped on the coffin of the President Abraham Lincoln in Philadelphia, Pa. in Independence Hall, April 21, 1865 and was presented to my mother, Mrs. Caughlin by Joe Story, the Guard."

Although the 37 star flag would not become official until 1867, it was common practice in 19th century America to add stars to the flag prior to the official date of entry, July 4th. Congressional action would be before that date and even anticipated before Congress officially acted. At the time of Lincoln's death in 1865 there were 35, 36 and 37 star flags in circulation. The 35th, West Virginia, was unanticipated until 1863 when a section of Virginia (northwest part of the state) seceded from Virginia due to the slavery issue; the 36th, Nevada, was anticipated before and official in 1865; the 37th star, Nebraska, though anticipated was delayed prior to Congressional action on March 1, 1867 and the official entry date July 4, 1867. During those years the anticipation of flag makers resulted in a significant number of 36 and 37 star flags made in 1865. The attached ribbons are contemporary to this period.

Exhibition History:
(ZFC0276) Moraga Room Flag Label - January 2003
Special Memorial Day Display
Flags on Easels in the Moraga Room and Moraga annex

Presidio of San Francisco Officers Club
Memorial Day 2003

Chicago Meeting December, 2003

University of California - Santa Cruz
Board of Councilors Meeting, Rare Flags Exhibit
Santa Cruz, CA
7 June 2012

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library
The Exhibit
Simi Valley, CA
1 June 2014 to 30 September 2014

Appomattox Court House National Historic Park
150th Anniversary of the Surrender at Appomattox
Appomattox, VA
March 2015 to Summer 2018

• Funeral viewing of President Abraham Lincoln, Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA, 21 April 1865.
• Mrs. Cahghlin, until conveyed to daughter.
• Mrs. Anna Cooper, until conveyed to Aston Heitmeuller.
• Aston Heitmeuller, 2 November 1922.
• Anonymous collector(s).
• Sold via Greg Martin Auctions, San Francisco, CA to Zaricor Flag Collection, 1996.


Madaus, Howard M.- Whitney Smith, The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict, VZ Publications, Santa Cruz, 2006.

Mastai, Boleslaw and Marie-Louise D'Otrange, The Stars and The Stripes: The American Flag as Art and as History from the Birth of the republic to the Present, Knopf, New York, 1973.

37 Star Flag - (1867-1877) (U.S.), Flags of the World, 11 November 2011, from: http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/us-1867.html

U. S. Bunting, Lowell Land Trust.Org, 11 November 2011, from: http://lowelllandtrust.org/greenwayclassroom/history/USBunting.pdf

Image Credits:
Zaricor Flag Collection