Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 63.75" x 39.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 54.25" x 29"
13 star American national flag of the type used by the U.S. Navy on small boats around the turn-of-the-century. The reverse side of the coarse linen sleeve is stamped in black ink with the following text: “U.S. Ensign No. 8, New York Navy Yard; Oct. 1907; C. 7927”.

Although typical for this particular style of naval ensign, the stars are unusually large when compared to those on other Stars & Stripes, a trait that adds considerably to the visual quality of the design. This lent aid in identification from a distance on the open seas. The stars are arranged in the 3-2-3-2-3 configuration, which is the most common design in 19th century flags with 13 stars. This creates a secondary pattern that forms a diamond of stars with a star in each corner. It also mimics the St. Andrews and St. Georges’ crosses found on the British Union Jack.

Adding to the appeal of this flag is its comparably small size when compared to others made for extended outdoor use in the 19th century. Printed parade flags (sometimes called hand-wavers) were made for short-term use and were generally three feet long or smaller, but flags with sewn construction were generally 8 feet long and larger. This is because most flags needed to be seen from a great distance to be effective in their purpose as signals. Because the average flag of this era is difficult to frame and display in an indoor setting, small flags like this one, which measures approximately 2.5 x 4.5 feet, are coveted by collectors.

The canton and stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting that has been joined by machine stitching. The stars are made of cotton and are double-appliquéd (applied to both sides) with a zigzag machine stitch. The rectangular 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. There is a coarse linen sleeve along the hoist with three brass grommets, each of which is stamped with the following text: “Pat’d Aug. 26, 1884, No. 0”. The presence of this dating is a relatively consistent feature in the U.S. Navy flags of this period, but is extremely unusual across early flags in general. The New York Navy Yard acquisitioned materials and made their own flags.

The most likely use of an American Navy flag produced in 1907 would have been to mark the ships of the Great White Fleet. In a voyage that lasted from December 16th of that year until February 22nd, 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt an armada of American Navy ships to circumnavigate the globe. On paper it was mission of peace, diplomacy, and international comradery. The real reason was to display American military power, bringing to bear T.R.'s famous words: "Speak softly and carry a big stick."

The complement of Naval craft consisted of four squadrons of four battleships each, with associated escorts. There were four legs of the two-year tour. As a Navyman, being selected to go was a great honor.

Roosevelt's decision to send the Great White Fleet was largely fueled by an ongoing show of force by the Japanese Royal Navy. Japanese-American relations were tense and the Pacific Fleet was rather small. Roosevelt felt that action was required. In addition to several U.S. destinations and Japan, the ports visited during the round-the-world tour included Trinidad, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, the Philippine Islands, China, Ceylon, Egypt, and Gibraltar.

13 star flags have been used throughout our nation’s history for a variety of purposes. In addition to their use on small Navy boats, they were hoisted at patriotic events, including Lafayette’s visit in 1824-25, 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 in political campaigning for the same reason. Commercial flag-makers mirrored U.S. Navy practice on small scale flags beginning around 1890 and some private ships flew 13 star flags during the earlier periods. 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 flag has been hand-stitched to 100% natural fabrics on every seam and throughout the star field for support. Fabric of similar coloration was chosen for masking purposes, to underlay minor losses. The flag was then hand-stitched to its 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: There is minor mothing and a few minor areas of loss throughout. There is minor soiling in limited areas and there is a small mark of white paint in the last stripe. 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: 13
Earliest Date of Origin: 1907
Latest Date of Origin: 1907
State/Affiliation: Pennsylvania
War Association:
Price: SOLD

Views: 2094