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13 star American national flag of the type used by the U.S. Navy on small boats around the turn-of-the-century. I have owned many of these flags, made by the Navy at the Navy Yard in New York (Brooklyn), or at Mare Island, California (former headquarters of the Pacific Fleet), or at the Naval base at Cavite in the Philippine Islands, but this is one of only five examples that I have ever encountered that measures just 2.5 feet on the fly. Such tiny dimensions are about half the size of the smallest I had encountered, which is particularly significant since the 4.5 feet and 5.5 foot versions were among the smallest of all flags in production at the time. Only 13 star private yachting ensigns (usually 3 or 4 feet in length) were regularly produced in smaller sizes.

Among other types of flags, those with sewn stars that measure less than 5 feet in length were extremely scarce until the 1920�s. During the 19th century, the typical sewn flag measured between 8 and 20 feet in length. Garrison flags could be 35 or 45 feet. This is because flags needed to be seen from a great distance to be effective in their use as signals, while today�s flags primarily serve a decorative purpose. Collectors prefer smaller flags because they are easier to frame and display indoors, but 2.5 foot examples, like this one, are extraordinarily rare.

The reverse side of the coarse linen sleeve is stamped with the words �U.S. Ensign No. 10, N.Y.N.Y. [Navy Yard, New York] OCT. 1903, c.9151�. The flag is entirely machine-sewn, constructed of wool bunting with cotton muslin stars that are double-appliqu�d with a zigzag stitch. There is a linen sleeve with two brass grommets. Each grommet reads: �Pat�d Aug. 26, 1884, No. 0�. The presence of this dating is a very nice feature. Grommets on other types of flags are never so specifically marked.

The stars of this particular example are arranged in rows of 3-2-3-2-3, which is the most often seen pattern in 13 star flags and is common to both private yacht and Navy small boat ensigns of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 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. The pattern can also be interpreted as a combination of the crosses of St. Andrew and St. George, which some experts feel could have been the design of the very first American flag, serving as a link between this star pattern and the British Union Jack.

13 star flags have been used throughout our Nation's history for a variety of purposes. In addition to their use on small Navy boats, they were displayed in celebration of Lafayette�s final visit to the U.S. in 1825-26, carried by soldiers during the Mexican and Civil Wars, and made to commemorate American independence during the Nation's Centennial in 1876, the Sesquicentennial in 1926, and other patriotic occasions.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% hemp fabric. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. A deep shadow box was created in order to give the presentation more visual dimension. The front is U.V. protective acrylic.

Condition: There is very minor mothing, accompanied by foxing and staining throughout, but the flags presents beautifully and this is a very rare example. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
Inventory Number:


Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
Contact   Jeff Bridgman Phone: (717) 502-1281
Period: 1st Half 20th Century (1901 -1949)
Date: 1903
Origin: American
Condition: see description
Measurements: flag: 16.5" x 31.5", frame: 26.5" x 41.5"
Inventory Other Inventory by this Dealer
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
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