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  TEMPERANCE / PROHIBITION PENNANT WITH WHIMSICAL TEXT THAT READS: “THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC MUST GO,” THE ANTHEM OF THE WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN TEMPERANCE UNION; EXTREMELY RARE, circa 1914

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 12.25" x 24.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 6.5" x 17"
Description....:
Temperance movement pennant, made of salmon red wool felt, with a sewn, white felt binding and printed white lettering that reads: “The Liquor Traffic Must Go.” Examples in this exact style are known to have been employed in America by members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in 1914. Founded in 1873, this organization supported both the temperance and suffrage movements. The primary thrust of the initial production and distribution of these small textiles seems to have been for use in the organization of a mass display of them by children across America. A July 29th, 1914 article in the Ottawa Daily Republic in Ottawa, Kansas (p. 1) for that year, records a display of them at the presentation ceremony for a temperance essay contest. The report reads as follows: “A drill was put on by 20 little girls under the direction of misses Saddie E. Lewis of Hutchinson. Each girl wore a pennant across her breast bearing the words , “The Liquor Traffic Must Go.”

A February 16th, 1914 photo of five girls and a woman wearing these pennants, pinned across the breast like sashes, includes two members of the Kelly family of Lexington Kentucky. On that day, 100 children displaying them, in variations of red, white, and blue, marched at an event organized by the Broadway Christian Church of that city, in conjunction with WCTU members. The organization often combined their efforts in both the temperance and suffrage endeavors simultaneously at a single demonstration. Evidence of this can be seen in the white garments worn by the children in this image. Note that the girl in the black coat is wearing what appears to be all white beneath, and that the conical hats in the basic form often seen in Suffrage marches, that copy the design of the Phrygian liberty cap often worn in depictions of Lady Columbia (a.k.a., Lady Liberty, Goddess of Liberty). Margaret (Kelly) Birkenback appears in this photo, second from the right, as the youngest individual in the image, with her sister, Katie, to the far left.

For some reason, though many were undoubtedly produced, surviving examples of this pennant are extremely rare. Like the pennant that is the subject of this narrative, all appear to be approximately the same scale of 18 inches in length. According to surviving examples, newspaper accounts, and ads offering them for purchase, they were available not only salmon red, like the example, with white lettering, but also in royal blue with white lettering, and in white with cornflower blue text.

It is of interest to note that these are some of the earliest felt pennants produced in America, the first of which appeared around 1908, made for promotion of both major political parties in that year. At least one style is known from a patriotic event in New York State in 1909. Production was very limited until the Suffrage movement heated up in 1914. While the maker remains unknown, pennants are known to have been made available by the WCTU headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, from which they could be purchased directly at a cost of 20 cents for a pennant, a hat, and a button (sold as a group), with bulk discounts at 25, 100, and 1,000 pieces.

At least two other images are known of these pennants in use. One is among the holdings of the Ohio Memory Public Library, taken by Courtney Studio in Canton, OH in the 19-teens. In this image a woman in the back row, five in from the right, displays one among a large gathering of WCTU members, the remainder of which wear three different versions of a similar pennant with a slogan that reads “Ohio is Going Dry.” The other image was captured in September of 1914 at WCTU headquarters in Seattle, Washington.

The 18th Amendment effectively established the prohibition of alcoholic beverages by declaring production, transport, and the sale of alcohol (though not consumption or private possession) illegal, while the Volstead Act, a separate piece of legislation, outlined methods of enforcement. The amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919 and took effect on January 16, 1920. For the 13 years that followed, Prohibition was officially in effect, though the ability to enforce it was limited by the Volstead Act, as well as by corrupt and complacent politicians who overlooked illicit manufacturing and smuggling. The amendment was repealed by Congress in 1933 through ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment. This was the only instance in American history that a constitutional amendment was repealed in its entirety. Following congressional approval, Franklin Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation 2065, which officially ended prohibition on December 5th, 1933.

Mounting: The pennant 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 textile was hand-stitched to background of 100% hemp fabric, ivory in color. The black, rippled profile molding has gold highlights. The glazing is U.V. protective acrylic (Plexiglas).

Condition: There is significant fading of the salmon red dye. There is minor to moderate soiling, some cracking of the printed lettering, and there is a bit of fabric loss at the tip. One of the lower ties is absent. Because the aged appearance is so attractive and endearing, and at the same time seems quite fitting, the pennant presents beautifully.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type:
Star Count:
Earliest Date of Origin: 1914
Latest Date of Origin: 1919
State/Affiliation:
War Association: WW 1
Price: SOLD
 

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