Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Antique Flags > American Flags



Web ID: ofj-847
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L):
Flag Size (H x L): 57.75" x 91.75"
New Hampshire state flag, made by Lamprell & Marble of Boston, Massachusetts, sometime between 1896 and 1908. The version of the state seal presented in this instance differs not only from the officially accepted design of the period, but from anything that I have personally encountered. This is surprisingly the norm across early examples, rather the exception. Part of the issue was that written descriptions of state seals were often vague. Such was the case in New Hampshire, specifically, until 1931, when a Governor-appointed committee convened to specify all of the necessary details.

In early America, the makers of flags and banners hired artists who appear to have either been forced to work from either written or perhaps even verbal descriptions, and/or seem to have been afforded various levels of artist's liberty with the respect to the rendering of image. Perhaps, at times, there was access to some sort of printed or embossed version of the seal that may have been small and/or difficult to interpret. In addition, copies made by engravers varied widely, which undoubtedly contributed to general confusion. When a seal wore out and needed replacement, artists sometimes injected details not present on previous examples. For all of the above reasons, versions of state seals rendered during the 19th century, especially, and sometimes into the early 20th, often varied significantly from whatever the official format may have been that was recorded in state records.

On July 1st, 1774, the First Provincial Congress of New Hampshire, while still a colony, met for the first time and discarded all symbols tied to England and King George. Sometime during the spring or early summer of 1776, a new seal was devised that included a vertical fish and a pine tree flanking an upright bundle of five arrows, surrounded by text that read "Colony of New Hampshire," followed by the Latin phrase " Vis Unita Fortior" (A United Force is Stronger). The number five represented the state's five counties. This seal is still in limited use today.

In 1784, one year following the end of the Revolutionary War, the design was officially revised to depict a ship on stocks, to reflect the important industry of ship-building in Portsmouth, with a rising sun in the background. The entire view was encircled by a wreath of laurel leaves. The ship was the U.S.S. Raleigh, built in Portsmouth and one of the original 13 warships commissioned by the Second Continental Congress on December 13th, 1775.

Although New Hampshire did not officially adopt a state flag until 1909, that didn't prevent flags from being produced. Some states forwent accepting an official flag and instead simply produced flags with the state seal on a solid colored ground (often blue). This particular example pre-dates 1909. In that year, the seal was revised to include text that named the device in Latin: "Gigillum Reipublicae Neo Hantoniensis" (Seal of the State of New Hampshire), followed by "1784," the date that the current NH State Constitution took effect. A second Laurel wreath was included around the perimeter, except this time broken up so that 9 stars were evenly dispersed within it to reflect New Hampshire's position as the 9th state.

On the flag that is the subject of this narrative, the new text is present, but without the 1784 date. Instead of a Laurel wreath with 9 stars, 45 hand-sewn, double-appliquéd stars encircle the device. This aids in dating the manufacture of the flag, placing it somewhere during the time that there were 45 states in the Union, between the years of 1896 and 1907.

Entirely hand-sewn, the flag has a Navy blue field constructed of three lengths of blue wool bunting. The device is hand-painted on a single layer of fabric, also wool bunting, which is especially unusual. This was single-appliquéd into the field, so that it could be viewed on both sides. It was painted on both sides, so that it would present well on the reverse as well as the obverse, though it should be noted that the letters are backwards on the reverse. The rectangular patches in all four corners, called gussets, are original to the flag's construction and were added at points where the flag would receive the most wear. Though gussets are common, they are rarely present in all four corners. There is a twill-woven sailcloth binding along the hoist, in the form of an open sleeve, through which a braided, hemp rope was passed, looped at the top and bottom and stitched firmly into place. Along this, on the reverse, the following text is stenciled: "Lamprell & Marble; Manufacturers; Boston, Mass." This is accompanied by the abbreviation "N.H.," inscribed with a dip pen, to make it easier to identify when folded. Completely hand-sewn construction is highly unusual in the 45 star period, especially among commercial flag-makers.v In 20 years of heavy buying, I have seldom ever seen New Hampshire state flags of any early vintage. I cannot at the moment recall ever having seen another, in fact. It's terrific to find any state flag of this period or earlier, to say nothing of the fact that it is signed, hand-sewn, hand-painted, and of this quality. The 90 hand-sewn stars (45 on each side) make it even more special.

Brief Notes on Lamprell & Marble: In the 1860 census, Simon Lamprell is listed in Boston as a sailmaker, age 50, worth $500 RE, while William Marble was a sailmaker from Hingham, MA, age 42, worth $3,000. In 1870, Simon was listed in Marblehead and a sailmaker, age 50, worth $2000 RE and $1,000 PE. He does not appear in the 1880 census. In 1870, William is listed as a sailmaker , age 51, born in MA, worth $4,000 RE and $2,000 PE, while in 1880, he was simply listed as a sailmaker born in MA of MA parents.

The Lamprell & Marble firm is appears in the 1861 Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, within the Report of the Master of Ordnance for December 26th of that year. Here "Public Document 7E" notes that Lamprell and Marble supplied two flags to Fort Warren for $12.07. A copy of an advertising cover (a term for a small, 19th century envelope) in the collection of Historic New England lists them as "Flag, Awning & Tent Makers," as well as "Flags, Bunting, Streamers and Tents," with an address of "357 Commercial Street, Boston." An ad in the Boston Herald notes them as offering "FLAGS of the best English Bunting," as well as "FLAGS of all nations."

Mounting: The flag has not yet been mounted or framed. For 20 years we have operated a textile conservation business, where expert staff conserve, restore, mount and frame early flags and other related material. Having mounted and framed literally thousands of flags, we can attend to all of your needs in this regard. Feel free to inquire.

Condition: There is minor to modest mothing throughout, with associated loss. accompanied by areas of moderate loss in the last blue panel, below the device and towards the fly end, as well as in the center panel, adjacent to the fly end. There is an area of more significant mothing in the top panel, at the fly end, continuing into the gusset. One star is nearly absent on the reverse and there is significant separation between the hoist binding and the body of the flag. None of this detracts from the beauty of the flag and all of it can be easily dealt with during the mounting process. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. The exceptional quality of the flag, combined with its rarity, would warrant practically any condition.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 45
Earliest Date of Origin: 1896
Latest Date of Origin: 1907
State/Affiliation: New Hampshire
War Association: 1898 Spanish American War
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281

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