Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Antique Flags > American Flags


Web ID: 46j-906
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 21.75" x 27.75"
Flag Size (H x L): 13" x 18.5"
46 star parade flag, printed on very fine silk, made to celebrate the launch of Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet in 1907. The Great White Fleet was a United States Navy force that completed a circumnavigation of the globe from December 16, 1907, to February 22, 1909 at Roosevelt’s bidding. It consisted of four squadrons of four battleships each, with associated escorts.

Through deployment of the Great White Fleet, Roosevelt sought to demonstrate growing American military power. This was largely fueled by an ongoing show of force by the Japanese Royal Navy. Japanese-American relations were tense and the Pacific Fleet was rather small. Roosevelt felt that action was required. In addition to several U.S. destinations and Japan, the ports visited during the round-the-world tour included Trinidad, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, the Philippine Islands, China, Ceylon, Egypt, and Gibraltar.

Superimposed on the flag image are circular medallions containing portraits of each of the 16 battleships. Their round shape makes them appear as though they are being viewed through a porthole or spyglass. Inside these are oval portraits of the four Admirals that commanded the squadrons, flanking a larger medallion picturing T.R. himself, commander-in-chief. The four admirals pictured are Rear Admiral Charles S. Sperry (top left), Rear Admiral William H. Emory (top right), Rear Admiral Charles M. Thomas (bottom left), and Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans (bottom right). There were four legs of the two year tour, and having been selected by seniority, three of the four men retired during the journey.

The flag itself is highly unusual. In 1905, the United States Congress passed a law that was supposed to have eliminated the use of portraits and text on the American flag, labeling it desecration. Examples survive that were produced after that date, but they are generally rather benign, without elaborate formats and almost never including the portraits of a U.S. Presidents or other political figures. The great popularity of Roosevelt lends to its great desirability, as does the overall design, with so much pictured in historical record the famous fleet and its fearless leader.

The 46th state, Oklahoma, joined the Union on November 16th, 1907, during Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency. Roosevelt had many friends in the Oklahoma Territory from his Rough Rider days, and pushed it through to statehood. The 46 star flag became official on July 4th, 1908 and remained so until July 3rd, 1912. Many 46 star flags were made earlier, however, in great anticipation of the future addition of the state, which had previously been appointed to Native Americans.

Provenance: Formerly in the collection of J. Richard Pierce, a leading collector of American parade flags. Ex-Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques.

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 two part frame consists of a black-painted, hand-gilded, and distressed Italian molding with a convex profile, to which a very dark brown molding, almost black, with reddish undertones and highlights, and a step-down profile, was added as a cap.

The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for colorfastness. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: Exceptional. There is a tiny amount of bleeding, foxing, and misprinting, but there are no serious condition issues.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 46
Earliest Date of Origin: 1907
Latest Date of Origin: 1909
State/Affiliation: Oklahoma
War Association:
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281

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