|44 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG, MADE OF SILK, WITH GILT-PAINTED STARS & LETTERS THAT DESIGNATE A CHAPTER OF THE JUNIOR ORDER OF UNITED AMERICAN MECHANICS, A PATRIOTIC FRATERNAL ORGANIZATION FOUNDED IN PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA IN 1853; MADE DURING THE PERIOD WHEN WYOMING WAS THE MOST RECENT STATE TO JOIN THE UNION, circa 1890-1896
|Frame Size (H x L):
|Approx. 71" x 104.5"
|Flag Size (H x L):
|58.5" x 92"
|44 star American flag, made entirely of silk, with gilt-painted stars and gilt lettering that reads:
Point Pleasant Council, No. 669, Jr. O.U.A.M
The Junior Order of United American Mechanics, was a patriotic, mid-19th century, fraternal organization, founded on May 17th, 1853, at the Concord School House in Germantown, Pennsylvania, a large borough later incorporated within the City of Philadelphia. Point Pleasant was home to the chapter that owned this flag, located in Bucks County, just north of the city, near the village of Newtown.
Although it was perfectly acceptable, during the 19th century, to embellish the Stars & Stripes with text and images for the purposes of store and event advertising, for the identification of both military and private organizations, and for use in political campaigning, surviving examples such as this are very unusual. These patriotic artifacts are appreciated because they visually record their manner of use, for all to see, in a graphic fashion, also elevating their interest among collectors.
The stars are arranged in zigzagging rows with 8 stars at the top and bottom, and 7 in the 4 rows in-between. Both these and the text are painted in one shade of gilding and outlined in another, which provides for an interesting effect. The canton and stripes of the flag were pieced and joined with treadle stitching. There is a silk fringe along the top, bottom, and fly ends, applied in the same manner. Five sets of silk ties were hand-sewn along the hoist (one pair now absent), in order that the flag could be affixed to a staff and hand-carried.
Wyoming became the 44th state on July 10th, 1890. Even though the 44 star flag was not official until July 4th, 1891, most flag-makers would have begun to add a 44th star to their flags as soon as Wyoming declared statehood, or perhaps even before the state was actually added. Because flag-making was a competitive venture, flag-makers did not want to be producing 43 star flags, for example, when their competitors were selling 44’s. The 44 star flag would have generally seen use until the addition of Utah in 1896.
More on the Jr.O.U.A.M.
As early as the 1840's there was great concern about the ever-growing population of America. One of the agendas of the Jr.O.U.A.M. was to subvert both present and future immigration. Members were required to undertake efforts to campaign against the hiring of cheap foreign labor. They were also charged to patronize only "American" businesses. Their motto was "Virtue, Liberty, and Patriotism" and they wore fraternal attire that was decorated in red, white and blue. Membership in the Junior Order was not confined to craftsmen or mechanics. Instead the use of the word "mechanics" was intended to serve a dual purpose, indicating builders of character, integrity, and citizenship as well as the builders of objects.
The Jr.O.U.A.M. was an outgrowth of the O.U.A.M., which had been organized in Philadelphia during the anti-alien riots of 1844-45. It was aimed at interesting youth and preparing them for membership in the parent organization. While one might expect that 19th century artifacts of the O.U.A.M. would be more desirable among collectors than the Junior Order, it is, in fact, the latter that seems to have produced most of the interesting folk art and patriotic textiles. In addition, today the term "Junior" had only short-term historical significance, because the two organizations effectively blended. Like many of the 19th century fraternal groups, the Jr.O.U.A.M. still exists today. It is much smaller, however, with chapters in only nine states.
Following are the preamble and objects of the order, as set forth in the original bylaws:
We, the undersigned, Americans by birth, having viewed the disadvantages under which Americans labor from the effects of foreign competition and foreign combinations, not only by the different articles of foreign manufacture being imported into the several Sates of the Union, thereby depriving the mechanics of American birth from realizing that material benefit from their labors which they should; but the present system of the importation, into this country, of paupers by the actions of the Old World has been and is, carried to such an extent that, if some remedy is not very soon applied, the Americans by birth will become paupers themselves-and form past experience and present appearance of the future, instead of the evils abating, there is a certainty of their increasing; therefore we feel ourselves bound, by the duties we owe our country an our countrymen , to provide for the protection of Americans, by forming ourselves into an association to advance such objects and carry out such principles as shall best promote the interests and shall secure the happiness of ourselves and our countrymen; in addition to which is added the praiseworthy duty of aiding our brothers in distress. Therefore, for the purpose of advancing such objects and principles, we pledge ourselves, as Americans, to use every fair and honorable means consistent with our sacred duties, and, in accordance with the paternal voice of the Father of Our Country, "Beware of foreign influence," agree to be governed by the following constitution.
1. To assist Americans in obtaining employment.
2. To encourages Americans in business.
3. To establish a sick and funeral fund.
4. To prepare the youth of America to become members of the Order of United American Mechanics, and other American orders, when they arrive at the proper age.
5. To use such means, when able, as will prevent the present system of emigration of foreign paupers to our land.
Mounting: The price includes conservation and framing within our own textile conservation department, which can attend to all of your mounting and framing needs.
Condition: There is moderate breakdown in the silk, especially at the fly end. There are some stitch repairs, and some repairs with clear tape on the reverse side. One of the silk ties is absent. This is a fragile flag, but the rarity of its gilt painted stars and advertising make it a highly desired example in any almost any condition. The overall presentation is excellent.
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