|13 STARS IN A CIRCULAR VERSION OF THE 3RD MARYLAND PATTERN, ON A SMALL SCALE FLAG PROBABLY DATING TO THE FIRST HALF OF THE 1890'S, WITH ENDEARING PRESENTATION FROM EXTENDED USE
|Frame Size (H x L):||46.25" x 68.5"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||36.5" x 56.5"|
|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 centennial of American independence 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.
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 of them close together would become as one white mass and distort the ability to identify American ships on the open seas. Keeping the count low allowed for better visibility. For this reason the U.S. Navy flew 13 star flags on small boats. Some private ship owners mirrored this practice and flew 13 star flags during the same period as the Navy.
Flag experts disagree about the precisely when the Navy began to revert to 13 stars and other low counts for this practice. Some feel that the use of 13 star flags never stopped, which seems to be supported by depictions of ships in period artwork. 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. Any American flag that has previously been official, remains so according to the flag acts, so it remains perfectly acceptable to fly 13 star flags today by way of congressional law.
Around 1890, commercial flag-makers began making small pieced-and-sewn flags for the first time in quantity, most often in lengths of 3 or 4 feet on the fly. For these they almost universally employed the 13 star count, mirroring Navy tradition. This practice seems to have remained popular through the 1920's, and while custom flags have continuously been available, regular production of 13 star examples afterwards declined.
Some flag-makers simultaneously offered 13 star flags measuring longer than 4 feet, particularly during the 1890's. These are more scarce. This particular flag is one such example.
Since there was no official star configuration until the 20th century (1912 specifically, beginning with the 48 star count), the stars on 13 star flags may appear in any one of a host of configurations. Some of these are more rare and desirable than others. The stars of this particular flag are arranged in a circular wreath of 12 with a single star in the center. This basic configuration, whether oval or circular, has come to be known as the "3rd Maryland Pattern". The design is very desirable due to both its visual attractiveness and the scarcity of its use. The name comes from a flag that resides at the Maryland State Capitol in Annapolis, long thought to have been present with General Daniel Morgan at the Battle of Cowpens in 1781. According to legend, the flag was supposed to have been carried by Color Sergeant William Batchelor of the Maryland Light Infantry and was donated to the State of Maryland by Batchelor's descendants. The story was disproved in the 1970's, however, following an examination by the late flag expert Grace Rogers Cooper of the Smithsonian. She discovered that the Cowpens flag was, at the earliest, of Mexican War vintage (1846-48).
Among flag collectors and enthusiasts, the name "3rd Maryland" stuck to the design. The term actually received some legitimacy through the existence of a similar flag, in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of History & Technology, with verified Maryland provenance. This was carried by the Maryland and District of Columbia Battalion of Volunteers during the Mexican War. While the configuration is known to be an early one, as evidenced by 18th century illustrations, this star pattern is most often encountered among surviving examples that date to the mid-19th century, roughly within the Mexican War to Civil War time frame (1846-1865). It was also revived in small scale, commercially-produced flags, such as this one, during the 1890-1920's time frame.
The canton and stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting that has been pieced-and-sewn with treadle stitching. The stars of the flag are made of cotton and are double-appliquéd (sewn to both sides) with a lineal, treadle stitch. There is a sailcloth canvas binding along the hoist with 2 brass grommets. The square gussets (reinforced patches) at the top and bottom of the hoist end are original to the flag. These were included at the points where the flag would endure the most stress.
The small scale of the flag itself is a very desirable trait. Most flags made for extended outdoor use were very large. Those with sewn construction were generally eight feet long and larger. This is because flags needed to be seen from a distance to be effective in their purpose as signals, while today their use is more often decorative and the general display of patriotism. A six-foot example is small among flags of those that pre-date 1890, and they smaller they are, the rarer they are. Measuring just three feet on the hoist by 4 feet 8 inches on the fly, this one falls within the ideal size range for most collectors and one-time buyers alike. Because 19th century sewn flags can be cumbersome to frame and display in an indoor setting, many flag enthusiasts prefer small examples, like this one.
Due to a combination of the star pattern, the small scale of the flag, the wonderfully muted colors and the endearing wear, this is a wonderful as well as beautiful example for any collection.
Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% natural fabrics for support on every seam and throughout the star field. 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 Plexiglas.
Condition: Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
|Collector Level:||Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything|
|Flag Type:||Sewn flag|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1890|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1895|
|War Association:||1866-1890 Indian Wars|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|