Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Antique Flags > American Flags



Web ID: ofj-988
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 45" x 83"
Flag Size (H x L): 33.25" x 71.25"
In 1867, the Red Ensign of the United Kingdom (a.k.a., the British Red Ensign) was unofficially adopted and modified to become the de facto Canadian national flag, applying a device to represent Canada in the red field. This general concept was standard in most outposts of the British Empire, where the Red, Blue, or White ensigns of the U.K. were embellished with the arms of the respective colonies, to be flown as national flag, with various adaptations employed for military colors within the respective region.

From roughly that year throughout most of the 1st quarter of the 20th century, the emblem of Canada on the Red Ensign was called the “composite shield.” This incorporated the unofficial coats of arms (none of these officially sanctioned by the crown) of each of the nation’s provinces. The shield was updated as more provinces were added, until it overflowed with so many different symbols that it became extraordinarily cluttered.

In 1921, a coat of arms for Canada was officially granted by Royal Proclamation of King George V. The new device, featured the coats of arms of England, Scotland, Ireland, and France, with a trio of green maple leaves below. In 1922, this replaced the composite shield on the Canadian Red Ensign. It was also at this time that Canada’s official colors of red and white were declared.

Though not technically adopted as the Canadian national colors, regular display and promotion of the Canadian Red Ensign by Canadian Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, in office when it was adopted, (served two terms, 1867-1873 and 1878-1891,) both legitimized and quasi-legalized its use. In 1892, the British Admiralty approved the flag for use at sea, and in 1924, an Order in Council approved the use of the flag for Canadian government buildings abroad.

In 1957, the maple leaves on the Canadian Arms were changed from green to red.

A Canadian national flag was not officially adopted until Queen Elizabeth II (of Canada) proclaimed the present maple leaf design. This took place on January 28th, 1965, followed by an official inauguration on February 15th of that year.

Construction: The British Union flag emblem (a.k.a., “Union Jack”) that serves as the flag’s canton, is made of wool bunting that has been pieced and joined by machine stitching. The red field is comprised of two lengths of red wool bunting, joined in the same fashion. This particular variety of bunting is especially unusual, due to the way in which it was woven, with quarter-inch lines of tighter weaving at regular intervals. The appearance of this makes the flag look as if the field was joined from 6 narrow lengths of bunting, instead of two. This probably lent strength to the cloth, which took a beating in the wind, especially if flown at sea. Some early naval flags were constructed in this fashion in both Britain and America. I once thought that the purpose of this method was to make efficient use of narrow, leftover lengths of wool. Perhaps this was actually the original intent, before the added benefit of having less give in the textile were discovered. Repeated hem lines added structure, especially when the alternative was a wide expanse of such loosely woven fabric as bunting. I also theorized that having many horizontal seams in the blue canton of an American flag, may have occurred to help maintain consistency, using strips of wool that were the same width as the stripes they butt up against. The thousands of early flags I have had the privilege to handle provide ample evidence of just how difficult it was to get a canton, made of one, two, or perhaps three lengths of wool bunting, to line up perfectly against 7 stripes, for example, and then maintain that alignment with forthcoming changes in humidity, temperature, and other stresses placed upon the respective fabrics over the passage of time and use. It would appear that the manufacturer of the red wool bunting used in this Canadian Red Ensign, having realized the benefits of the above, was trying to impact structural integrity without the need to employ lengths of fabric, or the time it took to assemble and stitch them. Lack of hems also resulted in less waste, because the seams needed to be folded into one another, consuming more fabric.

The device was printed on white wool bunting, then appliquéd onto the red field by way of machine stitching. There is a linen or cotton binding along the hoist, possibly with hemp content. This was originally constructed in the form of an open sleeve, through which rope could be threaded for the purposes of hoisting. Evidence survives that there was a rope within the sleeve at one point, later removed, after which the top and bottom were closed with machine stitching. The flag was then apparently tacked to a solid fixture, probably a wooden staff, as evidenced by tiny holes and accompanying rust stains in the expected positions. Inked stamps at the very bottom of the binding, on the obverse (front), together read “2 Yds.” This conveys the 6 ft. length of the flag on the fly. I suspect the flag to be of either British or Canadian origin and that the original intent of its manufacture was for nautical use.

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 was hand-stitched to 100% silk organza for support throughout. It was then hand-stitched to a background of 100% hemp fabric, or a hemp and cotton blend (we use both interchangeably). The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic (Plexiglas).

Condition: There is very minor mothing throughout and there is one minor hole near the top, fly end corner. There is minor to modest fading in the device. There is some staining along the binding from the metal tacks used to affix the flag to a staff. 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:
Earliest Date of Origin: 1922
Latest Date of Origin: 1940's
War Association:
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281

Views: 204