Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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  48 STAR, U.S. NAVY SMALL BOAT ENSIGN, MADE AT MARE ISLAND, CALIFORNIA DURING WWII, SIGNED AND DATED 1944, IN THE SMALLEST SCALE EMPLOYED AT THE TIME

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 42.25 x 26.5
Flag Size (H x L): 32.5" x 16.25
Description....:
48 star American national flag, made during World War II (U.S. involvement 1941-45) and signed along the reverse side of the hoist with a black stencil that reads: "US NO. 12 MI 44” [meaning, United States ensign number 12, Mare Island, 1944]. Located on the western edge of the City of Vallejo, about 23 miles northeast of San Francisco, Mare Island (actually a peninsula) served as a principal seat of U.S. Navy defense, beginning in the mid-19th century. The site was originally chosen following an expedition that set forth in 1850, when Commodore John Drake Sloat was ordered to lead a survey party in quest of a logical site for the nation's first Pacific naval installation. Sloat recommended the island across the Napa River from the settlement of Vallejo; it being "free from ocean gales and from floods and freshets." On November 6th of that year, two months after California was admitted to statehood, President Fillmore reserved Mare Island for government use. The U.S. Navy Department acted favorably on Commodore Sloat's recommendations and Mare Island was purchased in July, 1852, for the sum of $83,410 for use as a naval shipyard. Two years later, on September 16th of 1854, Mare Island became the first permanent U.S. naval installation on the West Coast, with Commodore David G. Farragut serving as Mare Island's first base commander.

The base became home to what was known as the Pacific Fleet, and remained so until the threat of Japanese expansionism caused the shift to a more advanced position at Pearl Harbor. It was very active in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, but would eventually close in 1993 after Congress approved the findings of the Base Realignment and Closure Report.

The canton and stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting that has been pieced and sewn with machine stitching. The stars are stamped or stenciled in white paint. This is a known technique in use in the manufacture of U.S. naval ensigns at the time and can be seen on other Mare Island flags. There is an especially wide canvas binding along the hoist with two noticeably large, white metal grommets. The weight of the wool and the stalwart construction is typical of what the Navy preferred for its flags in this period. The fabric is heavier grade than what was typically employed in commercially-made flags and the fly end is bound with 4 rows of stitching instead of the usual two encountered in standard, commercially-made flags. “No. 12” along the hoist binding is a size designation for U.S. Navy small boat ensigns, specifying a flag that was to be 1.31 x 2.49 feet. Measuring approx. 16.25" on the hoist and 32.5" on the fly, this was the smallest variety of Stars & Stripes in use by the Navy in 1944. This tiny size is especially nice for collectors, because it is so easily framed and displayed.

The 48 star flag became official in 1912 following the addition of New Mexico and Arizona. 48 remained the official star count throughout WWI (U.S. involvement 1917-18), WWII, and the Korean War (1950-53), until Alaska gained statehood in 1959 and the 49th star was added.

Mounting: The flag has been 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 flag has been placed in its correct vertical format, with the canton in the upper left, in order that the stencil may be viewed on the reverse side of the hoist binding. The flag was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective Plexiglas.

Condition: There is extremely minor mothing, but there are no significant condition issues. The colors are strong and the flag presents beautifully. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age gracefully.
Collector Level: Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 48
Earliest Date of Origin: 1944
Latest Date of Origin: 1944
State/Affiliation: California
War Association: WW 2
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

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