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ENTIRELY HAND-SEWN FLAG WITH AN APPLIQUÉD FEDERAL EAGLE AND 14 STARS, MADE IN THE 1850’s BY RENOWNED FLAG MAKER SARAH McFADDEN, “THE BESTY ROSS OF NEW YORK,” FOR THE HUDSON RIVER STEAMSHIP “DELAWARE,” LAUNCHED, 1852; CONSCRIPTED INTO FEDERAL SERVICE BY THE U.S. NAVY AS A CIVIL WAR GUNBOAT IN 1860 (RENAMED U.S.S. DELAWARE, 1861-1865); SOLD TO THE U.S. REVENUE MARINE, WHERE IT SERVED FOR 38 YEARS (1865-1903), FIRST AS U.S.R.C. DELAWARE, THEN AS THE U.S.R.C. LOUIS McCLANE

ENTIRELY HAND-SEWN FLAG WITH AN APPLIQUÉD FEDERAL EAGLE AND 14 STARS, MADE IN THE 1850’s BY RENOWNED FLAG MAKER SARAH McFADDEN, “THE BESTY ROSS OF NEW YORK,” FOR THE HUDSON RIVER STEAMSHIP “DELAWARE,” LAUNCHED, 1852; CONSCRIPTED INTO FEDERAL SERVICE BY THE U.S. NAVY AS A CIVIL WAR GUNBOAT IN 1860 (RENAMED U.S.S. DELAWARE, 1861-1865); SOLD TO THE U.S. REVENUE MARINE, WHERE IT SERVED FOR 38 YEARS (1865-1903), FIRST AS U.S.R.C. DELAWARE, THEN AS THE U.S.R.C. LOUIS McCLANE

Web ID: 14j-813
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): Approx. 60" x 84"
Flag Size (H x L): 47.75" x 72"
 
Description:
1852-1860 flag with a white ground, featuring a red, hand-sewn, single-appliqued eagle, surrounded by 14, hand-sewn, indigo blue stars, inscribed "Delaware" along the hoist binding; Made by Sarah Mc Fadden of New York City for the 1852 Steamboat 'Delaware,' conscripted into federal service to become Civil War gun boat U.S.S. Delaware (1861-1865), then a U.S.S. Revenue Cutter U.S.R.C. (1865-1903); Re-named the U.S.R.C. Louis McLane in 1873, then the Louis Dolive in 1903, when it was removed from service and sold to the private sector as a merchant steamer.

The 1852 painting by J. & J. Bard, celebrated illustrators of Hudson River Steamers, shows the vessel with a very similar flag in Navy Blue, with an arch of 15 stars.

“Sally Ann” (Sarah Ann) McFadden (1808-1904), worked at 198 Hudson Street in New York City. Dubbed “New York’s Betsy Ross,”. beginning in 1834 and for more than 70 years that followed, Sarah and her descendants produced flags for every sort of purpose. Working under her own name, then under “S. McFadden & Co.” (beginning approx. 1865-67), her clients included private citizens to merchants and ship owners, yachtsmen, steamship authorities, federal, state and local governments, U.S. military and national guard units, and even the Confederacy. She sold bunting by the yard for flag-making, rented flags, banners, and patriotic draping, and performed flag repair. During the Civil War era, Sally’s firm was extremely active, supplying both the North and the South both before the war and after it began. One 1875 advertisement noted “Always on hand Ensigns, Jacks, Flys, Commercial Code of Signals.”

In addition to large, sewn flags, it is extremely likely that the McFaddens also produced some of the first printed flags. Both of Sally Ann’s grand-nephews, Levi Hitchcock Harrison and James W. Harrison, who resided with her, worked for her, and took over the business, were trained as printers. It thus stands to reason why an 1896 article in the New York Tribune reported that “At the time of the [Civil] war, Miss McFadden gave away so many flag to the school children that the police asked her to desist because children blocked up Hudson-st.” These would have been small, printed flags. The article goes on to explain that “It had become her custom to give away flags to the children on every 4th of July for a number of years.”*

While the flag presented here is unmarked, the composition of the McFadden eagle, in both fabrics and appliqué work, is very distinctive. Though very few flags survive that include them, I have owned and/or personally handled most of the ones that exist and have been able to study them first-hand. Some McFadden flags are signed by way of a black-inked stencil, but like most flag makers of the 19th century, the McFaddens appear to have signed very little of what they produced. Another major New York maker, Annin, was comparatively lax in this regard. Although in business from the 1820’s onward (still active today), Annin appears to have signed nothing until the 1864-1867 era, and afterwards sporadically at best. Across the board, flags were generally unmarked by the maker until the 48 star era (1912-1959).

* Many thanks to David Martucci for the information on Sarah McFadden included here, referenced from a research paper he compiled entitled “The McFadden-Harrison Flag Making Dynasty” (March 1st, 2016).

Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed in 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 first stitched to supportive fabrics throughout, on the reverse. It was then hand-stitched to a background of 100% cotton twill, black in color, that was washed and treated for colorfastness. The mount was placed in a cove-shaped molding with a rope style inner lip and very dark brown, nearly black surface, with reddish highlights, to which a flat profile molding, with a finish like early gunmetal, was added as a liner. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic (Plexiglas).

Condition: Please inquire for a full report.
Video:
   
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 14
Earliest Date of Origin: 1852
Latest Date of Origin: 1873
State/Affiliation: Delaware
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com


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