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   ENTIRELY HAND-SEWN 13 STAR FLAG MADE BY THE GRANDDAUGHTER OR GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTER OF BETSY ROSS, RACHEL ABRIGHT OR SARAH M. WILSON, IN PHILADELPHIA IN 1905, THE LARGEST EXAMPLE PRESENTLY KNOWN TO EXIST:


 

Description:
13 star American national flag made by either the granddaughter of Betsy Ross, Rachel Albright, or her great-granddaughter, Sarah M. Wilson, who together participated in a cottage industry making little flags in the East Wing of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The flags were produced for the tourist trade and possibly sometimes presented as gifts to individuals who made donations to the American Flag House and Betsy Ross Memorial Association. Among the flags made by Albright and Wilson, this is the largest known, which makes it extraordinary. The two women are rumored to have made flags as large as 3 by 5 feet, but nothing larger than this 10 � x 16 �-inch example has thus far surfaced. Perhaps larger flags were sewn with a treadle machine and not signed, but that seems unlikely given that it was the Ross name that made the flags desirable to their clientele. Most of the Ross granddaughter flags measure about 5.5� x 9.5�. Slightly larger examples are known that are 12 to 14-inches on the fly, but these are particularly rare. The stripes of the flag are constructed of silk ribbon and hand-sewn with tiny stitches and a degree of precision seldom seen on American textiles. The five-pointed stars are executed with lineal lines like a spokes on a carriage wheel or the rowel of a spur. These are constructed of silk floss on a canton made of blue silk taffeta and there is a hand-sewn cotton binding along the hoist. The Albright and Wilson flags are extremely easy to identify because their construction is so distinctive. There is nothing else like them made during this period. That having been said, they were individually made and do exhibit a small degree of personalized variation. The sleeves or hoist bindings vary in width and some have tiny, hand-sewn grommets. Rachael and Sarah proudly proclaimed that this is what the original flag looked like, with a perfect wreath of 13 stars, but no hard evidence exists to substantiate it. In fact, no one knows precisely what the star configuration was on the first flag, but it is unlikely that it had a perfect circle of stars. Of the very few Colonial examples that survive, none are in this pattern. Further, while there are thousands of 13 star flags that still exist today that were made during the 19th century for all manner of patriotic purpose, only one single flag made prior to the 1890�s seems to have survived with a �Betsy Ross�, perfect circle pattern. The Albright and Wilson flags are among the very first to be produced in this design and are probably responsible for the fact that this pattern is now so popularly connected with the Betsy Ross name. In other words, flags made in this pattern made afterwards were probably copied from the Ross Granddaughter flags. One of these small flags appears on the Betsy Ross House website (http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/house/room9.html). A signed example is picture in �The Stars and the Stripes� by Mastai, 1973, p. 228. Albright and Wilson appear to have stopped making flags of this kind sometime around 1912-1915. Two unusual things accompany the flag. One of these is a certificate issued in 1905 that commemorates a fiscal gift to the American Flag House and Betsy Ross Memorial Association, made by Mrs. Eliza Cowley Eaton of Warren, Pennsylvania. Warren is located in the very rural, northwest quadrant of the state, and even today it takes more than five hours to travel from Warren to Philadelphia. Another item accompanying the flag is a gold foil print that quite likely dates to the same time period and was likely included with the flag and certificate. Pictured are an eagle, Ft. McHenery, and some of the text to Francis Scott Key�s Star Spangled Banner. Key is pictured at the bottom along with either Betsy Ross or Mary Pickersgill (maker of the Star Spangled Banner). Flags made by Wilson and Albright typically either came with a note or a signature along the hoist (sleeve). This particular flag had neither, but its construction is precisely that of Albright and Wilson and the date of the accompanying documents allows easy establishment of the date of the flag. Also accompanying the flag will be a high-quality scan of a hand-written history of the Ross family, penned by Rachel, will accompany the flag. Written in 1903, I discovered the note accompanying another large scale (although smaller) example of an Albright flag. I kept the note because it was so significant, and later lent it to the first major exhibit on Betsy Ross, held in the late fall and early winter of 2010-2011 at Winterthur, the estate and museum of the collection of Henry Francis Dupont, which houses one of the nation's very best textile conservatories. Mounting: The gilded, American molding dates to the period between 1840 and 1870. This is a pressure-mount between 100% cotton velvet and U.V. protective acrylic.
Inventory Number:

Dealer  

Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
Contact   Jeff Bridgman Phone: (717) 502-1281
Period: 1st Half 20th Century (1901 -1949)
Date: 1905
Origin:
Condition: There is moderate fabric breakdown and associated loss in the canton. Fabric of similar coloration was placed behind it for masking purposes. Much of the silk used in the making of American flags during the period between the mid-19th century and the mid-20th century was weighted with mineral salts, which resulted in splitting and breakdown of this nature.
Measurements: Frame: 20.5" x 26" Flag: 10.75" x 16"
Inventory Other Inventory by this Dealer
Web-site: http://www.jeffbridgman.com
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
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