|48 STARS THAT RESEMBLE SNOWFLAKES ON AN EXTRAORDINARY NEEDLEWORK FLAG MADE IN THE NEAR EAST FOR AN AMERICAN CITIZEN, 1912-1918 or POSSIBLY PRIOR
|Frame Size (H x L):||19" x 27.5"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||11.5" x 20"|
|Beginning around the turn of the century, it became popular to make American flags from various forms of needlework, primarily by tatting and crochet. Though this remained fashionable until WWII (U.S, involvement 1941-45), most one-of-a-kind, homemade examples date to the period between the Spanish-American War (1898) and WWI (U.S. involvement 1917-18).
This little flag is especially unusual. It was purportedly not made in the States, but rather abroad, and gifted to a U.S. Citizen. A typewritten note that accompanies the flag, dated 1969, reads as follows:
"This flag was made by hand over sixty years ago in the Near East for a former member of this church, Mr. H. Mouradian.* We know that it is mounted in the frame incorrectly because people in that foreign country at that time were not aware that the field of stars belong on the left." [The flag was flipped over to the proper side when it was properly remounted.]
The needlework present in this example is not only very different from what one might find in an American-made flag of the same general nature, made during the period in question, but is also of extraordinary quality. The blue and white fabrics are, as-is the floss used to perform the decorative stitchery. This includes 48 snowflake-like stars with 8 points each, executed in fine needlepoint, as well as two styles of diagonally-oriented geometric patterns that alternate in the white stripes from one to the next. The red stripes are actually constructed of both red and white cotton threads, woven in an intricate web to produce two alternating crosshatch patterns.
The canton is applied to the stripe field with hand-stitching and all of the work throughout is done by hand, including the blanket stitched binding.
The flag has a beautiful graphic sensibility and great texture. The blue has silver overtones due to its iridescent quality. The red has uneven striations on color that accentuate the diagonal patterns. The overall appearance is more intricate, delicate and artistic than its American counterparts.
In 1908 a Mr. H.V. Mouradian penned an article called "Mendelssohn as an Orientalist" that was published in the August issue of "The New Music Review and Church Music Review." The October 1 issue of the Musical Times in the same year reported that "Upon hearing 'Elijah' for the first time, Mr. Mourdian, who has lived in the East, was struck with the Orientalism in the oratorio. It goes on to detail his particular thoughts on specific songs. For example, one such critical commentary states how "the duet "Zion spreadeth her hands for aid," with its weird, mystic and monotonous chorus accompaniment, "Lord, bow Thine ear to prayer," would be enough to make you swear by your patron saint that Mendelssohn must have visited some Tekke (Mohammedan monastery) and heard those whirling dervishes, or passed through the wailing places of the Jews in Jerusalem."
It seems likely that the man to whom the flag was given and this musician/critic who lived in the "East" are one-and-the-same.
The 48 star flag became official in 1912 following the addition of New Mexico and Arizona. It remained the so through WWI (U.S. involvement 1917-18), WWII (U.S. involvement 1941-45), and the Korean War (1950-53), until Alaska gained statehood in 1959 and the 49th star was added. Although presently it is impossible to prove a date of 1909 or prior, as according to the 1969 note which stated 60 years ago or more as a presentation date, given what is known about early flags in the 48 star count, 1909 or prior is, in fact, possible. It does seem unlikely, however, that a foreign source would be as likely as an American one to produce an anticipatory star count on an American national flag.
Whatever the case may be, this is a beautiful little homemade flag of extraordinary quality with a nice and unusual story.
Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% cotton, black in color, which was washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye, which was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was then placed in a black-painted modern wooden molding with a simple square profile. The glazing is U.V. protective Plexiglas.
Condition: There are losses in the silk fabric where the flag was tacked down with glue to its former mount. There is minor soiling throughout, accompanied by a moderate stain near the center of the 2nd white stripe. There is minor breakdown with associated losses in the canton, particularly along the top edge. many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and period of use.
* The Encyclopædia Britannica defines the Near East as including Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the West Bank, and Yemen. The United Nations FAO defines the region similarly, but also includes Afghanistan while excluding the countries of North Africa and the Palestinian territories. According to National Geographic, the terms Near East and Middle East denote the same territories and are 'generally accepted as comprising the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, Syria, and Turkey'. (Source: Wikipedia)
|Collector Level:||Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything|
|Flag Type:||Sewn flag|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1900|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1918|