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  13 STARS ARRANGED IN A 3-2-3-2-3 PATTERN ON A BEAUTIFUL DUSTY BLUE CANTON, ON A SMALL-SCALE ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG MADE BETWEEN THE MID-1880'S AND 1890'S

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 52" x 69"
Flag Size (H x L): 41" x 58.25"
Description....:
13 STARS ARRANGED IN A 3-2-3-2-3 PATTERN ON A BEAUTIFUL DUSTY BLUE CANTON, ON A SMALL-SCALE ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG MADE BETWEEN THE MID-1880'S AND 1890'S:

13 star antique American flag is of the 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. Due to the manner in which the stars are stitched on this particular example, the size, and the blue wool bunting used in its construction, it can be surmised that the flag likely dates to the earliest part of this time frame.

Note how the coloration of the canton has faded to a dusty blue-grey. When this trait is present in this particular weave of blue bunting, it is most often discovered in flags that date between 1885 and 1895, and more often in the second half of that ten-year date bracket. After 1895, either flag manufacturers caught on to the fugitive dye and ordered different wool, or the textile company that was producing it changed its dying process. In any event, flags that were made with this particular fabric and have survived to the present day, have an interesting presentation that many collectors find attractive.

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 approximately 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 3 and 4-foot flags for the first time in large quantities. 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. 5-foot examples, like this one, can appear in either the full star count or 13 stars.

Any flag that has previously been official, remains so according to the flag acts, so 13 star flag remain official national flags of the United States of America.

The 13 star count has been used throughout our nation's history for a variety of other purposes. 13 star flags were hoisted at patriotic events, including Lafayette’s visit in 1825-26, 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 an fouled anchor, which allowed pleasure boats to bypass customs between 1848 and 1980, persists today without an official purpose.

Construction: The canton and stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting that has been pieced with treadle stitching. The stars are made of cotton and are double-appliquéd (applied to both sides of the flag) with lineal treadle stitching. There is a binding along the hoist made of heavy cotton twill with two brass grommets, along which "5 X 3" is stamped in black ink to indicate size in feet.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% natural fabrics for support on every seam and throughout the star field. Fabric of similar coloration was chosen, both to strengthen the flag's color against the black background and for masking purposes. The flag was then hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, 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 plexiglass.

Condition: There is minor mothing scattered throughout and there is minor soiling on the cotton hoist and stars. There is just a tinge of red bleeding on the tip of one star and a dot of the same near the center of the 4th white stripe. 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: 1885
Latest Date of Origin: 1895
State/Affiliation: 13 Original Colonies
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

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