|13 STARS IN A MEDALLION CONFIGURATION ON A SMALL-SCALE ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG OF THE 1890-1900 ERA, WITH AMPLE WEAR AND LOSSES
|Frame Size (H x L):||40.75" x 57.75"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||30" x 46.75|
|13 star flag of the type made from roughly the last decade of the 19th century through the first quarter of the 20th. The stars are arranged in a medallion configuration, with a large star and a flanking star in each corner of the blue canton. This is an attractive pattern that appeals to both collectors and casual observers alike. Most 13-star flags of this period incorporate a lineal design with stars arranged in staggered rows in counts of 3-2-3-2-3, which is generally less desired. Medallion patterns, like this one, seem to comprise about 20% of such flags that were produced during this era.
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 encountered with any regularity 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 smaller flags for the first time in large quantities, typically measuring either 2 x 3 feet (like this example) or 2.5 x 4 feet. 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. Any flag that has previously been official, remains so according to the flag acts, so even today 13 star flags 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. 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, 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 while campaigning for the same reason. 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.
Construction: The canton and stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting that has been pieced with machine stitching. The cotton stars were double-appliquéd (applied to both sides) with a zigzag machine stitch. There is a twill cotton binding along the hoist with two brass grommets.
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 ivory colored hemp fabric. The mount was then placed in a solid wood frame with mahogany-like graining, a deep, rectangular profile, and a dark walnut finish. To this a black, rippled profile molding with gold highlights was added as a liner. The glazing is U.V. protective Plexiglas.
Condition: There are minor to moderate losses throughout from wear and mothing, the most significant of which occurs along the top edge of the canton and in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 12th and 13th stripes. There is moderate oxidation and minor soiling throughout, accompanied by small dark stains near the middle of the hoist binding and between the 6th and 7th stripes, near the canton. 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|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1895|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1926|
|State/Affiliation:||13 Original Colonies|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|