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  13 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN PARADE FLAG, WITH A 3-2-3-2-3 CONFIGURATION OF STARS, AN EXTREMELY SCARCE AND UNUSUALLY LARGE VARIETY, MADE circa 1876-1899

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 26" x 34.75"
Flag Size (H x L): 15.25" x 24"
Description....:
13 star American national parade flag, printed on cotton, made sometime during the last quarter of the 19th century. This is a very rare size for a parade flag in the 13 star count. The most common variety measures just 3 inches on the fly, and practically none reach over 10 inches. Before acquiring a small group in this large and unusual form, close to 20 years ago now, neither I, nor anyone else I knew in the world of flag collecting, had seen anything similar.* The group I acquired was discovered in Canada, and, given what I knew about 13 star parade flags, it was reasonable to assume that they were likely either produced there for the American market, or else made in the States for some Canadian-based event with U.S. involvement. Whatever the case may be, others in the same style have since been found north of the border, and Canadian manufacture would explain the scarcity.

The stars are quite large in scale. Each is canted at a slight angle, such that one point is directed in the 1:00 position. These are arranged in staggered lineal rows in counts of 3-2-3-2-3, which is the most common configuration found in 13 star flags of the late 19th century, with pieced-and-sewn construction, but is highly unusual among printed parade flags.

In most cases the 3-2-3-2-3 design can also be viewed as a diamond of stars, with a star in each corner and a star in the very center. It is of interest to note that the 3-2-3-2-3 pattern can also be interpreted as a combination of the crosses of St. Andrew and St. George, which some feel could have been the design of the very first American flag and may identify a link between this star configuration and the British Union Jack. The pattern is often attributed--albeit erroneously in my opinion--to New Jersey Senator Francis Hopkinson, a member of the Second Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence, who is credited with having played the most significant role in the original design of the American national flag. Hopkinson's original drawings for the design of the flag have not survived and his other depictions of 13 star arrangements for other devices are inconsistent.

On this particular example, note the unusual coloration of the hoist area, adjacent to the canton, which is red instead of the typical white. This adds a distinctly unusual feature to the flag's visual presentation and is a nice compliment to the field of large, canted stars.

The presence of so much white fabric beyond the last red stripe is also not typical of parade flag production. This was done so that there would be room for error when trimming between one flag and the next. Parade flags were printed on a bolt of fabric, like other printed textiles, and were clipped from the bolt at the point of sale, or perhaps afterwards, if the buyer bought multiple flags. When printed horizontally across the bolt, or when small flags were printed next to one-another vertically in multiples, Most parade flags had only a tiny amount of space between them, and some print runs allowed no space at all. It is extremely unusual to encounter flag printed perpendicular to the bolt, with selvage (finished, woven edges) along the hoist and fly, that have enough white fabric beneath and above them to actually look as if the maker intended American flags to have 14 stripes.**

13 star flags have been flown throughout our nation’s history for a variety of purposes. They were hoisted at patriotic events, including Lafayette’s visit in 1824-25, the celebration of the nation’s centennial in 1876, and the sesquicentennial in 1926. They were displayed during the Civil War, to reference past struggles for American liberty and victory over oppression, and were used by 19th century politicians in political campaigning for the same reason. The U.S. Navy used the 13 star count on small boats until 1916, because it was easier to discern fewer stars at a distance on a small flag. Commercial flag-makers mirrored this practice and some private ships flew 13 star flags during the same period as the Navy. The use of yachting ensigns with a wreath of 13 stars surrounding a fouled anchor, which allowed pleasure boats to bypass customs between 1848 and 1980, persists today without an official purpose.

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 background fabric is 100% cotton twill, black in color, that has been washed and treated for colorfastness. The extraordinary, 3-part molding is constructed of wood, but has a finish that presents like antique iron. Spacers keep the textile away from the glass, which is U.V. protective. Feel free to contact us for more details.

Condition: There are no significant condition issues.

* With the exception of a tiny handful of extremely rare examples with political advertising.

** Note that some parade flags are printed parallel to the bolt, and on occasion have lots of fabric on one or both sides. This is also unusual and is typically seen on very early examples, pre-dating the American Civil War (1861-65).
Collector Level: Intermediate-Level Collectors and Special Gifts
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 13
Earliest Date of Origin: 1876
Latest Date of Origin: 1899
State/Affiliation: 13 Original Colonies
War Association:
Price: SOLD
 

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