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Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags and Painted Furniture - 13 STARS ARRANGED IN A 3-2-3-2-3 PATTERN ON A SMALL-SCALE FLAG OF THE 1890's-1910 ERA, WITH AN ATTRACTIVE, ELONGATED PROFILE
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  13 STARS ARRANGED IN A 3-2-3-2-3 PATTERN ON A SMALL-SCALE FLAG OF THE 1890's-1910 ERA, WITH AN ATTRACTIVE, ELONGATED PROFILE

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 36.5" x 59"
Flag Size (H x L): 24.75" x 46.5"
Description....:
This 13 star antique American flag is of a type made during the last decade of the 19th century through the first quarter of the 20th. The stars are arranged in rows of 3-2-3-2-3, which is the most often seen pattern in 13 star flags of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In most cases the 3-2-3-2-3 design can also be viewed as a diamond of stars, with a star in each corner and a star in the very center. It is of interest to note that the 3-2-3-2-3 pattern can also be interpreted as a combination of the crosses of St. Andrew and St. George, which some feel could have been the design of the very first American flag and may identify a link between this star configuration and the British Union Jack. The pattern is often attributed--albeit erroneously in my opinion--to New Jersey Senator Francis Hopkinson, a member of the Second Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence, who is credited with having played the most significant role in the original design of the American national flag. Hopkinson's original drawings for the design of the flag have not survived and his other depictions of 13 star arrangements for other devices are inconsistent.

Why 13 Stars? As the number of stars grew with the addition of new states, it became more and more difficult to fit their full complement on a small flag. The stars would, by necessity, have to become smaller, which made it more and more difficult to view them from a distance as individual objects. The fear was that too many stars would become one white mass and distort the ability to identify American ships on the open seas.

The U.S. Navy used 13 stars on its small-scale flags for precisely this reason. This was, of course, the original number of stars on the first American national flag, by way of the First Flag Act of 1777, and equal to the number of original colonies that became states.

For all practical purposes, commercial flag-makers simply didn't produce flags with pieced-and-sewn construction that were 3 to 4 feet in length before the 1890's. There are exceptions to this rule, but until this time, the smallest sewn flags were typically 6 feet on the fly. The primary use had long been more utilitarian than decorative, and flags needed to be large to be effective as signals. But private use grew with the passage of time, which led to the need for long-term use flags of more manageable scale.

Beginning around 1890, flag-makers began to produce small flags for the first time in large quantities, namely with dimensions of 2 x 3 feet and 2.5 x 4 feet. Applying the same logic as the U.S. Navy, they chose the 13 star count rather than the full complement of stars for sake of ease and visibility. Any flag that has previously been official remains so according to the flag acts, so 13 star flags remain official national flags of the United States of America.

  At 2 x 4 feet, this particular flag is more elongated than the typical example and I have always found these proportions to be particularly attractive. The canton and stripes are made of wool bunting that has been pieced by treadle machine. Note that two of the stripes were pieced using two lengths of fabric, which is original to the flag’s construction and is evidence of the efficient use of materials. The stars are made of cotton and double-appliquéd (applied to both sides) with a zigzag machine stitch. There is a twill cotton binding along the hoist with two brass grommets. This is typical for both the form and the period. While this general variety of small scale 13 star flags were produced for approximately 35 years, this particular example was probably made sometime between the mid-1890’s and 1910.

The 13 star count has been used throughout our nation's history for a variety of purposes. In addition to being flown by the Navy, 13 star flags were hoisted at patriotic events, including Lafayette’s visit in 1824-25, the celebration of the nation's centennial in 1876, and the sesquicentennial in 1926, as well as for annual celebrations of Independence Day. They were displayed during the Civil War, to reference past struggles for American liberty, and were used by 19th century politicians in political campaigning. The use of yachting ensigns with a wreath of 13 stars surrounding a fouled anchor, which allowed pleasure boats to bypass customs between 1848 and 1980, persists today without an official purpose.

Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by masters degree trained staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples.

The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. The mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Feel free to inquire for more details.

Condition: There is minor scattered mothing throughout. There is some breakdown of the stitching with thread loss in the bottom center of the canton, where it joins the white stripe below it. The overall condition and colors are excellent for a wool flag of this period.
Collector Level: Beginners and Holiday Gift Giving
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 13
Earliest Date of Origin: 1895
Latest Date of Origin: 1926
State/Affiliation: 13 Original Colonies
War Association:
Price: SOLD
 

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