|Small scale 13 star flag of the type made from roughly the last decade of the 19th century through the first quarter of the 20th century. The stars are arranged in an oval wreath of twelve stars, surrounding a large center star. This configuration is generally referred to as the 3rd Maryland pattern. The design is very desirable due to both its attractiveness and the scarcity of its use.
The canton and stripes of this flag are made of wool bunting that was pieced with a lineal machine stitch. The cotton stars are double-appliqu�d (applied to both sides of the flag) with a zigzag stitch, which was patented for use in the application of stars on flags in 1892. There is a twill-woven, heavy cotton sleeve with two brass grommets for hoisting, along which the name �Shuttlett� or �Shuttlott� is hand-written with a dip pen. This either represents the name of the ship for which the flag was intended, or more likely, was the surname name of a former owner. It was very common to mark flags in this manner during the 19th century. This is accompanied by the following text, which is stenciled along the hoist in black ink: �4 FT� and �UNITED STATES ARMY STANDARD�. The first portion is the length of the flag on the fly. The second, �U.S. Army Standard�, in no way indicates military use, but is simply a brand name, intended to inspire confidence in the buyer. It designates the grade of wool bunting that was being used by the manufacturer. While not a military flag, the use of the name does very likely reflect the fact that fabric is the same variety requested by the U.S. Army from the flag-maker in some previous order.
The name "3rd Maryland" comes from a flag that was thought to have been present with General Daniel Morgan and the Maryland Light Infantry, carried by Color Sergeant William Batchelor at the battle of Cowpens in 1781. The �Cowpens flag�, resides at the Maryland State Capital in Annapolis, but in the 1970�s was discovered to be of Mexican War origin (1846-48) at the earliest. A similar flag also resides in the collection of the Smithsonian�s National Museum of History & Technology, carried by the Maryland and District of Columbia Battalion of Volunteers during the Mexican War. In my experience with early flags, I have learned that most of the examples with this star configuration that have survived until the present day were made in the 20-year time frame between the Mexican and Civil Wars (1846-1865). For reasons unknown, the design is seldom ever seen in 13 star flags made for the 1876 centennial of our nation�s independence, scarcely 10 years afterward�a period when 13 star flags were made in relatively large numbers�but reappears on a small percentage of small-scale flags, like this one, during the 1890-1920 period.
13 star flags of this era with stars in the 3rd Maryland pattern are very scarce. Approximately seventy-five percent of such flags have stars arranged in a staggered row design, in counts of 3-2-3-2-3, while approximately twenty-five percent appear in a medallion configuration that features a center star, surrounded by a wreath of stars, with a flanking star in each corner of the canton. Less than one percent appear in some other design, such as this one.
Why 13 Stars?
The U.S. Navy had long been using 13 stars on its small-scale flags because they wished the stars to be easily discerned at a distance. This was the original number of stars on the American flag and equal to the number of original colonies. As the number of stars grew with the addition of new states, two circumstances occurred. One, it became more and more difficult to fit stars on a small flag and two, it became more and more difficult to view them from afar as individual objects on a small flag.
For all practical purposes, commercial flag-makers simply didn't produce flags with pieced-and-sewn construction that were 3 to 4 feet in length before the 1890's. There are rare exceptions to this rule, but until this time, the smallest sewn flags were approximately 6 feet on the fly. The primary use had long been more utilitarian than decorative, and flags needed to be large to be effective as signals. But private use grew with the passage of time, which led to the need for long-term use flags of more manageable scale.
Beginning around 1890, flag-makers began to produce small flags for the first time in large quantities. Applying the same logic as the U.S. Navy, they chose the 13 star count rather than the full compliment of stars for sake of ease and visiblity. Any flag that has previously been official, remains so according to the flag acts, so 13 star flags were and still are official today.
13 star flags have been used throughout our Nation's history for a variety of purposes. In addition to their use on the small scale flags of the 1890-1920's era, the U.S. Navy used the 13 star count on small boats, both in the 18th century and through most or all of the 19th century, particularly the second half. The Navy�s use of the 13 star flag ended in 1916 following an executive order written by President Woodrow Wilson. Among other uses, 13 star flags were carried by soldiers during the Mexican and Civil Wars, used at patriotic events, including Lafayette�s visit in 1825-26, celebration of the Nation�s centennial in 1876 and the sesquicentennial in 1926.
Mounting: the flag has been hand-stitched to 100% silk organza for support on every seam. It was then hand-stitched to a background of twill cotton, black in color, which was washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The front is U.V. protective acrylic.
Condition: There is minor mothing throughout, accompanied by minor foxing and staining. Many collectors prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. |
Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
||Phone: (717) 502-1281
||19th Century (1801-1900)|
||See Item Description|
||flag: 26.75" x 47.25", frame: 38.5" x 58.5"
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