Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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  13 STARS IN A CIRCULAR VERSION OF THE 3RD MARYLAND PATTERN, ON A SMALL SCALE FLAG MADE IN THE 1890-1920’s ERA:

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 35" x 45.75"
Flag Size (H x L): 24.5" x 34.75"
Description....:
Small scale 13 star flag of the type made from roughly the last decade of the 19th century through the first quarter of the 20th century. The stars are arranged in an circular wreath of twelve stars, surrounding a single center star. This configuration is generally referred to as the 3rd Maryland pattern. The design is very desirable due to both its attractiveness and the scarcity of its use.

The name "3rd Maryland" comes from a flag that was thought to have been present with General Daniel Morgan and the Maryland Light Infantry, carried by Color Sergeant William Batchelor at the battle of Cowpens in 1781. The “Cowpens flag”, resides at the Maryland State Capital in Annapolis, but in the 1970’s was discovered to be of Mexican War origin (1846-48) at the earliest. A similar flag also resides in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of History & Technology, carried by the Maryland and District of Columbia Battalion of Volunteers during the Mexican War. In my experience with early flags, I have learned that most of the examples with this star configuration that have survived until the present day were made in the 20-year time frame between the Mexican and Civil Wars (1846-1865). For reasons unknown, the design is seldom ever seen in 13 star flags made for the 1876 centennial of our nation’s independence, scarcely 10 years afterward—a period when 13 star flags were made in relatively large numbers—but reappears on a small percentage of small-scale flags like this one during the 1890-1920 period.

13 star flags of this era with stars in the 3rd Maryland pattern are very scarce. Approximately seventy percent of such flags have stars arranged in a staggered row design, in counts of 3-2-3-2-3, while approximately twenty-five percent appear in a medallion configuration that features a center star, surrounded by a wreath of stars, with a flanking star in each corner of the canton. Fewer than five percent appear in some other design, such as this one. The more unusual star patterns tend to appear on flags that were probably produced in the 1890's.

Why 13 Stars?
13 star flags have been continuously produced throughout our nation's history for purposes both patriotic and utilitarian. This was the original number of stars on the American flag, representing the 13 colonies, so it was appropriate for any flag made in conjunction with celebrations or notions of American independence. 13 star flags were displayed at patriotic events, including Lafayette’s visit in 1825-26, the celebration of the nation's centennial in 1876, and the sesquicentennial in 1926. They were displayed during the Civil War, to reference past struggles for American liberty and victory over oppression, and were used by 19th century politicians in political campaigning for the same reason.

13 star flags were flown by American ships both private and federal. The U.S. Navy used 13 stars on the ensigns made for small boats, because they wished the stars to be easily discerned at a distance. As the number of stars grew with the addition of new states, two circumstances occurred. One, it became more and more difficult to fit stars on a small flag and two, it became more difficult to view them from afar as individual objects.

The same logic was adopted in the private marketplace. For all practical purposes, commercial flag-makers simply didn't produce flags with pieced-and-sewn construction that were 3-4 feet in length that bore the full star count until well into the 20th century. There are exceptions to this rule, but until this time, the smallest sewn flags were between approximately 5 and 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. Most measured approximately 2 x 3 feet (like this example) or 2.5 x 4 feet, though there was certainly variation. Applying the same logic as the U.S. Navy, flag-makers 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 were and still are official today.

Construction: The canton and stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting, pieced by machine. The cotton stars are machine-sewn with a zigzag stitch and double-appliquéd (applied to both sides of the flag). The zigzag stitch was first patented for use on flags in 1892. There is a binding along the hoist made of heavy cotton twill with two small white metal grommets. Along this, near the top on the obverse (front) is a red inked stencil (possibly faded from blue or black) that reads: "U.S. Standard 2x3." Nearer to the bottom, the name "Harwood" is boldly inscribed in oil pencil. This would identify a former owner and it was common to mark flags in this fashion during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% natural fabrics for support on every seam and throughout the star field. Fabrics of similar coloration were chosen for masking purposes. The flag was then hand-stitched to a background of twill cotton, black in color, which was washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective Plexiglas.

Condition: There is minor mothing throughout and minor wear from use. There is minor foxing and staining. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Collector Level: Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 13
Earliest Date of Origin: 1890
Latest Date of Origin: 1910
State/Affiliation: Maryland
War Association:
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

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