Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 55" x 71"
Flag Size (H x L): 42" x 58"
Like the British Royal Navy, American vessels flew three flags. These included the American national flag, a Union Jack (not to be confused with the British Union Flag, often identified by this name), and a commission pennant.

The American Navy jack, often referred to simply as the "jack," is a blue flag with a field of white stars. The design is the mirror image of the canton of an American national flag. In scale, the jack was meant to be the same size as the canton of the corresponding Stars & Stripes ensign with which it was flown. When at anchor or moored, the jack is flown at the bow (front), the national flag or "ensign" is flown at the stern (back), and the commission pennant is flown from the main mast. When under way, the jack is furled and the ensign may be kept in place or shifted to a gaff if the ship is so equipped.

Made by the U.S. Navy itself, this particular example has 45 stars, arranged in staggered rows in counts of 8-7-8-7-8-7, each oriented so that one point is directed upwards. The field is made of wool bunting that has been pieced and joined with machine stitching. Due to the limited width of this type of fabric, three lengths were necessary to achieve the desired size. The stars are made of cotton are double-appliquéd (applied to both sides) with a zigzag machine stitch. There is a wide, sailcloth canvas binding along the hoist with an interwoven blue filament that creates a fine, vertical, blue stripe. Two brass grommets, placed one each at the top and bottom of the hoist, provide evidence of Navy manufacture. These are stamped with the following text: "Pat’d Aug. 26, 1884" and "No 1." These begin to appear on Navy flags around the time of the patent date and continue to be seen throughout the 19-teens, but are not encountered on civilian flags. The triangular patches at the top and bottom corners of the hoist end are called gussets and are original to the flag's construction. These were included at the points where the flag would endure the most stress when it was flown.

Despite the fact that they were flown on all Navy ships, jacks with fewer than 48 stars are anything but common and those of a reasonable scale for framing and display are even less so. Surviving 48 star examples tend to be 3 feet long on the fly, but pre-1912 examples tend to be larger, and the earlier the flag is, the larger they tend to be. At approximately 3.5 x 5 feet, this particular example is of bold but very manageable scale.

The flag is also unusual because it is U.S. Navy-made rather than acquired under commercial contract. The Navy tended to produce its own Stars & Stripes and commission pennants during the 19th century. Jacks, however, either seldom survived at all or were procured from civilian sources. Most that I have encountered either have no identifiable markings that indicate Navy manufacture, or were signed by commercial makers.

Utah became the 45th state in 1896. It had been attempting to gain statehood for many years, but remained a territory, primarily due to the fact that the Mormon Church and Utah authorities continued to be openly tolerant of polygamy. In 1890, Mormon Church President Wilford Woodruff published a manifesto that denounced the contract of “any marriages forbidden by the law of the land”. This gave way to Utah’s 1896 acceptance. The 45 star flag was generally used from that year until 1907, when Oklahoma joined the Union. Due to the Spanish-American War (1898) and Teddy Roosevelt’s famous world tour of the “White Fleet” (launched in 1907), this was an extremely patriotic period.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% natural fabrics throughout for support. It was then hand-stitched to a background of cotton twill, ivory in color. 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 very minor to moderate loss in the blue wool bunting, with the most affected area being the bottom, fly-end corner, followed by the upper corner on that end and the bottom of the hoist, adjacent to the binding. There are minor to moderate losses in the white wool bunting of the stars. There is moderate soiling in one star and very limited, minor soiling elsewhere. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Collector Level: Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 45
Earliest Date of Origin: 1896
Latest Date of Origin: 1908
State/Affiliation: Utah
War Association: 1898 Spanish American War
Price: SOLD

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