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  13 STARS IN A PATTERN UNIQUE TO THIS STYLE OF ANTIQUE PARADE FLAG, MADE TO CELEBRATE "AMERICAN DAY" AT THE 1893 ST. LOUIS EXPOSITION

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 7.75" x 5.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 4.5" x 2.25"
Description....:
13 STARS IN A PATTERN UNIQUE TO THIS STYLE OF ANTIQUE PARADE FLAG, MADE TO CELEBRATE "AMERICAN DAY" AT THE 1893 ST. LOUIS EXPOSITION:

13 star American parade flag, printed on cotton, made to celebrate "American Day" at the 1893 St. Louis Exposition. Overprinted on the striped field, running perpendicular to it, is appropriate text announcing the event, accompanied by the date of September 7th. The title is arched and all three lines are in different fonts, the last of which is especially whimsical and especially indicative of the 19th century.

The stars are arranged in staggered columns of 3-3-4-3. This is an extremely unusual configuration and, as far as I can recall, the only rendering of it that I have ever encountered it among surviving 19th or 18th century examples, or on illustrations thereof. In fact, despite that there are more than 60 known 13 star arrangements on early flags and banners, the concept of arranging them in staggered columns in any manner is unique.

World's Fairs, held to celebrate technical innovation, as well as to promote international cooperation and trade, were brought to life in America in 1853-54. The fair that is generally considered to have been the first of such events outside the states had just occurred in London in 1851. Formally titled "The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations," it was more commonly referred to as simply "The Great Exhibition" or "The Crystal Palace," due to the gigantic glass structure that was built to house the exhibits. The New York fair was modeled after this and, not to be outdone, its own Crystal Palace was constructed with direct inspiration from its counterpart across the pond.

Similar fairs of significant stature, with a national or localized focus, had previously been held in such places as Prague (1791), Paris (regularly from 1798 onward), New York (1829), Turin (regularly from 1829 onward), Calcutta (1833), Genoa (1846), as well as other locations in the UK (1849 onward). The people of St. Louis were apparently inspired by New York's Crystal Palace, installing their own fairs in an annual series, beginning in 1856. Hosted by the St. Louis Agricultural and Mechanical Association (organized 1855), the events took place in a fifty acre site at the northwest corner of Grand Avenue and Natural Bridge Plank Road, which was actually about an hour's carriage ride from the city itself. The event gained national renown. More like a gigantic county fair that a true World's Fair, its buildings and attractions were regularly expanded. In 1893, ninety-three additional acres were added. The event took place in the wake of the largest World's Fair that had ever taken place in America. The World Columbian Exposition, a.k.a., The Chicago World's Fair, was held to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the landing of Christopher Columbus.

What precisely happened on "American Day" at the St. Louis fair is unclear, but it was a time of obvious patriotic fervor. Probably there were theatrical performances, music, parades and fireworks, and no doubt some form of American oratory, but despite a fair amount of research, an exact account of the day remains unknown.

Flags with overprinting of this nature are not the norm, and so are especially interesting to collectors. Anything that increases patriotic interest is a positive factor, and anything that increases visual interest is also plus. This particular flag is intriguing for all of these reasons.

13 star flags have been flown throughout our nation’s history for a variety of purposes. They 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. 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 while campaigning for the same reason. The U.S. Navy used the 13 star count on small boats until 1916, because it was easier to discern fewer stars at a distance on a small flag. Commercial flag-makers mirrored this practice and some private ships flew 13 star flags during the same period as the Navy. 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 paint decorated frame has a gilded inner edge and dates to the period between 1850 and 1880. The flag has been hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton, black in color, that was washed to remove 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. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass.

Condition: Excellent.
Collector Level: Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 13
Earliest Date of Origin: 1893
Latest Date of Origin: 1893
State/Affiliation: Missouri
War Association:
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

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