|48 STAR U.S. NAVY JACK, MARKED AS HAVING BEEN FLOWN ON THE U.S.S. FT. MANDAN, LAUNCHED NEAR THE END OF WWII, IN 1945, WITH SERVICE DURING BOTH THE KOREAN AND VIETNAM WAR ERAS, IN THE ARCTIC, AT THE NORTH POLE, AND AT GUANTANAMO BAY DURING THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS; FLOWN DURING THE EARLIEST POINT OF THE SHIP’S SERVICE, THE FLAG EXHIBITS ENDEARING WEAR FROM OBVIOUS USE
|Frame Size (H x L):
|46.5" x 58.75"
|Flag Size (H x L):
|35" x 48"
|United States Navy jack with 48 stars, marked as having been flown on the U.S.S. Fort Mandan (LSD-21), launched near the end of WWII (U.S. involvement 1941-45). Named after the encampment along the Missouri River where the Lewis & Clark expedition spent the winter of 1804-1805, in present day North Dakota, the Mandan was a Casa Grande class dock landing ship, laid down on January 2nd, 1945, launched at the Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, on June 2nd, 1945.
Like the British Royal Navy, American vessels flew three flags. When at anchor or moored, the jack is flown at the bow (front), the national flag or "ensign" is flown at the stern (back), and the commission pennant is flown from the main mast. When under way, the Jack is furled and the ensign may be kept in place or shifted to a gaff if the ship is so equipped.
The American Navy jack is a blue flag with a field of white stars. The design is the mirror image of the canton of an American national flag. In scale, the jack was meant to be the same size as the canton of the corresponding Stars & Stripes ensign with which it was flown. This particular example is made of wool bunting of an especially heavy grade, that has been bound with machine stitching. The stars are made of cotton and are double-appliquéd (applied to both sides) with a zigzag machine stitch. There is a heavy canvas binding along the hoist with four white metal grommets, along which “USS Fort Mandan; LSD 21; 1945” was inscribed with a felt tip pen.
The flag's construction, star count, and date notation all suggest that it was flown during the earliest points of the ship’s service. It was certainly flown for an extended time, as evidenced by the fact that so much of the fly end is absent. This is one of extremely few Navy flags I have seen that has actually lost stars—in this case an entire column. Endearing wear such as this is an extremely desirable feature, actually difficult to obtain in a flag that has, like this one, been legitimately flown in military service.
While the technical name for this type of flag is a "union jack," the confusing verbiage, being the same as the nickname of the most recognizable British flag, has resulted in a common shortening of the term to simply "the jack". Interestingly enough, the British Union Jack is not the proper name for that signal either. The design commonly called the "Union Jack" is actually the "Union Flag," though practically no one uses or is even familiar with the term. The only time that it can be properly called the "Union Jack" is when it is, in fact, flown as the jack on a British Navy ship. Because the British fly various national flags: the white ensign (Royal Navy), blue ensign (non-navy ships in public service), and red ensign (merchant ships), each of which is composed of a field with the corresponding color, with the Union Flag design as its canton, the use of the Union Flag as the jack on Royal Navy ships employs the same logic as using the blue field with stars (without the red and white striped field) as the American jack.
The Fort Mandan was a 458-foot, 7,930-ton vessel with a crew of 17 officers and 237 enlisted, capable of a speed of 17 knots. There were various types of dock landing ships, that served as dry docks from which all manner of equipment and troops could be brought onto a beach and deployed. 19 boats in this precise style were planned during WWII, though only 18 were actually built, 4 of which were sold to the U.K. (which had ordered 7 from U.S. dockyards).
Though launched during WWII, which ended on September 1st, 1945, the Ft. Mandan wasn’t commissioned until Halloween of that year (October 31st). During the Korean war it was employed in the Artic Circle, as well as in the service of atomic testing in Nevada. In 1953 it transported cannon, used to employ the only nuclear explosive fired as a projectile, from Nevada to Aberdeen Proving Grounds on the Chesapeake Bay. Spending a good deal of time in the Arctic, in 1955, post-war, it reached the North Pole, and in the same year, crossed the Equator for the first time. Traveling back and forth from the Caribbean to the Artic to the Mediterranean, in the opening year of the Vietnam War, 1961, it actually participated in the filming of the epic D-Day movie, “The Longest Day.” Many landing dock ships had been used to deploy troops and equipment at Normandy. In 1963 the Fort Mandan participated at Guantanamo Bay, during the Cuban Missile Crises. It was decommissioned shortly before the end of Vietnam, on the 23rd of January, 1971.
The 48 star flag became official in 1912 following the addition of New Mexico and Arizona. 48 remained the official star count throughout WWI (U.S. involvement 1917-18), WWII, and the Korean War (1950-53), until Alaska gained statehood in 1959 and the 49th star was added.
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.
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 placed in a deep, cove-shaped molding with a very dark brown surface, nearly black, and a rope-style inner lip, to which a flat profile molding, with a finish like old gun metal, was added as a liner. The glazing is U.V. Protective acrylic (Plexiglas). Feel free to contact us for more details. Condition: Extensive losses from obvious long-term use, including a full column of 6 stars absent, significant golden-brown oxidation, and significant soiling along the binding. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
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