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  U.S. NAVY COMMISSIONING PENNANT WITH 7 STARS, A 4 FT. EXAMPLE, WWI-WWII ERA (1917-1945)

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 13.25" x 24.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 2" x 48.75" (unfurled)
Description....:
U.S. NAVY COMMISSIONING PENNANT WITH 7 STARS, A 4 FT. EXAMPLE, WWI-WWII ERA (1917-1945):

7 star nautical commissioning pennant, made sometime in the period between WWI (U.S. involvement 1917-18) and WWII (U.S. involvement 1941-45). Commissioning pennants are the distinguishing mark of a commissioned U.S. Navy ship. A ship became commissioned when this pennant was hoisted. Flown during both times of peace and war, the only time the pennant is not flown is if a flag officer or civilian official is aboard and replaces it with their own flag.

Commissioning pennants were once very important in their role as signals and thus needed to be seen from great distance. During the 18th and 19th centuries, they usually exceed ten feet in length, with some reaching as long as ninety feet. During the 1st quarter of the 20th they became largely ceremonial and customary. Most range between four feet and six feet in length. Today the largest commissioning pennants measure two-and-a-half inches by six feet, like this example.

It is interesting to note that according to the U.S. Navy, the reason for the choice of 7 stars was not recorded. I have always suspected that the number might reference the "7 Seas", though this is an ancient term and geographers disagree on the precise meaning. The number may just as likely have represented what seemed like a logical design choice when the overall length was substantially shortened.

Many of these pennants have two sizes of stars, 4 larger and 3 smaller. This particular example has all of its stars in roughly the same size. The reason for the variation is unknown, but can probably be contributed to a simple misunderstanding under military contract production.

This particular pennant is made of wool bunting with cotton stars that are appliqu├ęd with a zigzag, machine stitch. These are irregular in size, which adds a nice folk quality to the presentation. Obviously hand-cut, the disparity between the size and shape of the arms is extreme, with some truncated, some large and wide, and some elongated and narrow.

There is a sailcloth canvas hoist with a single brass grommet. A blank-inked stamp along the binding reads "commission" and is accompanied by a large numeral "7," which serves as the Navy's size designation.

The pennant has been hand-stitched to 100% hemp fabric. It was been folded back-and-forth in a zigzag fashion, which simultaneously allowed it to be visually interesting and accommodated in a frame of a smaller size. The mount was placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass.

Condition: There is very minor mothing and there is modest soiling, particularly on the white hoist and stars. The inked stamps are difficult to read. There is some fraying at the tips of the fly. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Collector Level: Beginners and Holiday Gift Giving
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 07
Earliest Date of Origin: 1917
Latest Date of Origin: 1945
State/Affiliation:
War Association: WW 1
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

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