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15 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH AN EXTREMELY RARE “CIRCLE-STAR” VERSION OF THE GREAT STAR PATTERN AND A COMPLEMENT OF 13 STRIPES; MADE DURING THE 1ST QUARTER OF THE 20TH CENTURY TO EITHER CELEBRATE KENTUCKY STATEHOOD, OR TO COMMEMORATE THE WAR OF 1812, OR TO REPRESENT THE ERA IN WHICH THERE WERE 15 STATES (1792-1796) OR THE FLAG OFFICIALLY BORE 15 STARS (1795-1818)

15 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH AN EXTREMELY RARE “CIRCLE-STAR” VERSION OF THE GREAT STAR PATTERN AND A COMPLEMENT OF 13 STRIPES; MADE DURING THE 1ST QUARTER OF THE 20TH CENTURY TO EITHER CELEBRATE KENTUCKY STATEHOOD, OR TO COMMEMORATE THE WAR OF 1812, OR TO REPRESENT THE ERA IN WHICH THERE WERE 15 STATES (1792-1796) OR THE FLAG OFFICIALLY BORE 15 STARS (1795-1818)

Web ID: 15j-820
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 55.5" x 83.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 43.5" x 71.5"
 
Description:
15 star American national flag with 13 stripes and an extremely rare configuration of stars. This consists of an open, circular wreath of 10 stars, with a ring of 5, evenly placed satellites beyond it. Together these form a variant of what is known as the “Great Star” pattern—a star made out of stars—that I have termed a “circle-star”. The design is both unique to this flag and highly unusual across all known flags in any count.

While two 13 star flags are known in this basic configuration, with a wreath of 8 stars and 5 satellites, and I once encountered a printed, paper image of a 15-star flag in this style, clipped from a publication or some sort of ephemera, no actual, surviving 15 star flags of any period are known to exist in this design or any variant thereof.

The first flag act, adopted in 1777, provided for 13 stars “in the form of a new constellation,” and 13 stripes alternating red and white. When Vermont and then Kentucky became the 14th and 15th states in 1791 and 1792, respectively, there were no immediate changes to the national flag. Three years later, in 1795, the second flag act was passed by Congress, raising both the count of both the stripes and the stars to 15. This remained the official specification through the addition of five more states until finally, following the addition of Mississippi as the 20th state in 1818, the count of stars was raised again to 20. At this time the number of stripes was returned the original 13, where it remains today almost 200 years later, to reflect the 13 original colonies.

Surviving 15 star flags that actually date to the 15 star period are extraordinarily rare. By this I mean flags dating between 1792-1796, when there were exactly 15 states, or in the official 15-star period, (as governed by the second flag act,) between 1795-1818. Approximately five examples are presently known, including the Star Spangled Banner, all of which have a complement of 15 stripes.

Other flags with 15 stars were sometimes produced outside the 1792-1818 period. Even these are extremely scarce. Some were produced during the mid-late 19th century, possibly to glorify Kentucky as the 15th state. Others, like the one in question here, were made at the beginning of the 20th century. This particular flag was probably made sometime between roughly 1910 and the 1920’s, either to commemorate the War of 1812 (1812-1815), or to once again glorify Kentucky, perhaps at a World’s Fair event, or to simply reflect the period in which we officially had 15 stars per the second flag act of 1795 (effective 1796-1818). There was a rebirth of American patriotism during this general era, during which there was a rebirth of the American Federal period (1790-1820's) in American design, spurred in part by WWI (U.S. involvement 1917-18) and maintaining some velocity as late as WWII (U.S. involvement 1941-45).

With the exception of a small handful of flags, made in the early 20th century to replicate the Star Spangled Banner—the most famous of all 15 star flags, and the most famous in any star count, for that matter--15 star flags produced outside the 15-star era almost universally have 13 stripes. This is almost certainly attributable to a lack of knowledge concerning the official number of stripes during the 15-star period.

The fact that so few early 15 star flags exist from any era raises their interest among collectors who wish to own a flag in this star count, irrespective of the period of manufacture. When the general rarity is combined with the beautiful and unique star design present on this example, the result is a wonderful addition for collectors, historians, or one-time buyers alike, interested in a flag in the 15 star count.

Construction: The flag is made entirely of cotton. The canton and stripes are joined with lineal machine stitching. The stars of the flag are made of cotton and are double-appliquéd (applied to both sides) with a lineal machine stitch. There is a narrow, canvas binding along the hoist with 2 brass grommets.

Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples.

The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% silk organza for support throughout. It was then hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color. The black fabric has been washed and treated for color fastness. The cove-shaped molding has a textured surface, a rope style inner lip, and a very dark brown surface, nearly black, with reddish highlights and undertones. To this a flat profile molding with a finish like old gunmetal was added as a liner. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Feel free to inquire for more details.

Condition: There is some general, overall oxidation and there is minor soiling. There are some minor splits near the end of the 5th white stripe. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Video:
   
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 15
Earliest Date of Origin: 1910
Latest Date of Origin: 1920's
State/Affiliation: Kentucky
War Association:
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com


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