Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 57" x 85.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 44.5" x 73"
British Union Flag, better known as the "Union Jack," dating sometime between the 19-teens and WWII.

British involvement in the First World War began in 1914 and lasted until the Armistace Treaty of November 11th, 1918. British involvement in WWII fell between 1939 and 1945. War drove flag production to massive levels and is the most likely reason for manufacture, especially with regard to examples of a sturdier quality than what is typically encountered. That is the case with this particular flag, which is both heavier than usual and with significant reinforcement at the corners. The purpose here is not necessarily military, but the grade of this textile is definitely utilitarian, made for extended outdoor use and not for indoor decoration.

While construction did not change much between the teens and the 1940’s, the feel of the textile is more indicative of the earlier portion of this time frame. The flag is made of wool bunting that has been pieced and joined with machine stitching. There is a sailcloth canvas sleeve along the hoist, through which a rope would be passed for hoisting. Near the top of this is a maker’s tag that reads as follows: “John Edgington & Co., LTD.; 108, Old Kent Road, London, S.E.1.," along with a description of how to care for the flag.

John Edgington was the great-grandson of Richard Edgington, a sack cloth weaver who at some point went into the business of manufacturing flags and tents. Richard's son, Thomas opened a competitive business to his father’s in 1805 and is said to have supplied the flags of the British Navy flown at the Battle of Trafalgar, perhaps actually acquiring them from his father and providing them in the role of an outfitter. In 1821, Thomas’s younger brother, Benjamin, joined the business, but the two men parted ways just two years later in 1823 and became competitors, when Benjamin was chosen as his the successor to his father’s business. In 1829, Thomas claimed bankruptcy, but in 1832 he moved to a new and larger location at 108 Old Kent Rd., London, where he and his successors, including the John Edgington indicated on the maker's patch of this flag, operated for the next 136 years.

In each corner of the flag is a large patch, made from matching fabrics and following the design. These are called gussets, were added for support at the points where the flag received the most stress when it was flown, and are original to its construction. The size and the manner in which the gussets are applied is unusual among its counterparts and is probably a signature of the way in which at least some flags were constructed by John Edgington & Co.

Basic Facts Surrounding Use of The British Union Flag / Union Jack:
The term “Union Jack” comes from the fact that the device, by itself, was not flown on British ships as its primary colors. The crosses of St. George (to reflect England), St. Andrew (to represent Scotland), and St. Peter (as of January 1st, 1801, to include Ireland), that create what is known as the British “Union Flag,” was instead flown by the Royal Navy as a jack. A jack was flown off the bow when a ship was at port or anchor. In both Britain and the United States, this is officially called the “Union Jack”—a fact that makes the name pretty confusing. In each case it consists of the canton (union) of the national flag flown on the respective ship.

In America, the “Union Jack” is a blue field with white stars. Its size is to be that of the canton of the Stars & Stripes flown by the same ship as its national ensign.

In Britain, there were several variations of the national flag, instead of just one, called the red, blue, and white ensigns. Each consisted of either a red, white, or blue field, with the British “Union Flag” serving as its canton. So the “Union Jack” was the Union Flag by itself. The term “Union Jack” stuck as the common name for the device, no matter how it was employed.

No law has ever been passed to make the Union flag / “Union Jack” the national flag of the United Kingdom. Instead it has become so through precedent. Its first recorded recognition as a national flag came in 1908, when it was stated in Parliament that "the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag". A more categorical statement was made by the Home Secretary, Sir John Gilmour, in 1933 when he stated that "the Union Jack is the National Flag". It is still officially a flag of the monarch, however, rather than of the nation.

Civilian use of the Union flag is permitted on land, but non-naval/military use at sea is prohibited. On land, the Union Jack can be flown by any individual or organization on any day they wish. Until very recently, however, government use was strictly regulated. Prior to 2007, it could only be flown on government buildings on certain specified days, such as those marking the birthdays of members of the Royal Family, the wedding anniversary of the Monarch, Commonwealth Day, Accession Day, Coronation Day, The Queen's official birthday, Remembrance Sunday and on the days of the State Opening and prorogation of Parliament.

At sea, different rules apply. Prior to 1864, the Red Ensign, White Ensign, and Blue Ensign were all flown by ships of the Royal Navy (RN). In that year, all RN ships were ordered to fly the White Ensign and it became the sole naval flag of the United Kingdom. Until the mid- to late 1960's, the White Ensign was also flown by Canadian, Australian and New Zealand warships. The Blue Ensign was reserved for merchant vessels whose masters are qualified Royal Naval Reserve [RNR] officers and which meet certain other requirements, while the Red Ensign became the British civil ensign.

At sea, the Union Jack is reserved for the RN and no other British ships are permitted to fly it.

Measurements: 44.5” x 73”

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 presentation of flags and have preserved thousands of examples.

The black-painted, hand-gilded molding, and distressed molding is Italian. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There are two tiny holes in the blue wool, almost pinprick-sized and barely worth mention. The overall condition is absolutely excellent for the period.
Collector Level: Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count:
Earliest Date of Origin: 1910
Latest Date of Origin: 1945
State/Affiliation: Other
War Association: WW 1
Price: SOLD

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