Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 49" x 69.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 36.25" x 57"
13 star American national flag, made sometime between the 1876 centennial of American independence and the 1895. The stars are arranged in a medallion pattern that features a star in the very center, surrounded by a wreath of 8 stars, with a star in each corner of blue canton. This design emerged during the Civil War and became very popular afterwards, especially on printed parade flags made for celebrations of our 100th anniversary. From that time forward, through the 1920’s, this particular medallion design became a popular configuration for flags in the 13 star count.

Why 13 Stars?
13 star flags have been used throughout our nation’s history for a variety of purposes. The U.S. Navy used 13 stars on ensigns made for small boats, because they wished the stars to be easily discerned at a distance. This was the original number of stars on the American flag, representing the original 13 colonies. As the count of stars grew with the addition of new states, two circumstances occurred. One, it became more and more difficult to fit stars on a small flag and two, it became more difficult to view them from afar as individual objects.

When small flags were produced, commercial makers often applied the same logic as the Navy, selecting the 13 star count, rather than the full complement of stars for the sake of ease and visibility. Because any American national flag that has previously been official remains so today, according to the flag acts, 13 star flags have continuously remained official flags of the United States. Since there was no official star configuration until the 20th century (1912 specifically), the stars on 13 star flags may appear in any one of a host of configurations. Some of these are more interesting than others. The medallion is admired for its attractive presentation.

Measuring approximately 5 feet on the fly, this particular flag is unusual among its counterparts. During the 19th century most flags with pieced-and-sewn construction were 8 feet long and larger. When commercial makers began to produce 13 star examples in the 1890’s, the most common sizes were 2 x 3 feet and 2.5 x 4 feet. Both larger and smaller examples survive, but are more scarce. 5-footers are especially desired, due to the combination of manageable size and bold presentation. That is certainly the case with this particular flag, which receives further visual benefits from its large stars and balanced proportions.

In addition to their use by the Navy and commercial makers on small scale flags, 13 star flags have been flown throughout our nation’s history for a variety of purposes. They were hoisted at patriotic events, including Lafayette’s visit in 1825-26, 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 while campaigning for the same reason. 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. The Navy's use of the 13 star count on small boats officially ended in 1916 following an executive order of President Woodrow Wilson.

Construction: The stars are made of cotton, are treadle-sewn and double-appliquéd (applied to both sides). The stripes and canton of the flag are made of wool bunting that has been pieced with treadle stitching. There is a twill cotton binding along the hoist, along which the name “F.A. Wall” is inscribed in block style Roman letters with a dip pen. This would be the name of a former owner, and it was common to mark flags in this fashion during the 19th and early 20th centuries to indicate ownership. Stitches that appear to have been added along the bottom of the binding for repair were made in the form of a letter “W,” possibly with the intent of further identification.

Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed in our own conservation department, which is led by masters degree trained staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples. Feel free to contact us for more details.

The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. The black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective Plexiglas.

Condition: There is a 5" diagonal tear in the upper, hoist-end corner of the canton, with a small amount of associated loss. There is minor mothing in limited areas throughout, accompanied by modest loss at the fly end of the 2nd white stripe and a repaired separation next to it. There is modest loss at the approximate center of the 6th red stripe, a modest L-shaped tear at the hoist end of the same stripe. There is a moderate area of loss near the fly end of the 5th red stripe. Fabrics of similar coloration were placed behind the flag, during the mounting process, for masking purposes. There were once brass grommets at the top and bottom of the hoist binding, which were at some point removed. There is a tack hole at the approximate center of the hoist binding and there is a small conglomeration of tack holes and tears at the bottom of the binding. It is readily apparent that the flag was tacked to a staff or other fixture for an extended period during its course of use. 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: 13
Earliest Date of Origin: 1876
Latest Date of Origin: 1895
State/Affiliation: 13 Original Colonies
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: SOLD

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