13 Star Antique US Flag with R.H. Macy Stencil along the Hoist | Circa 1895-1920s

Framed 13 Star Antique US Flag with R.H. Macy Stencil
Closeup of 13 Star Antique US Flag with R.H. Macy Stencil
13 Star Antique Flag with R.H. Macy Stamp 3.JPG
13 Star Antique Flag with R.H. Macy Stamp 4.JPG
13 Star Antique Flag with R.H. Macy Stamp 5.JPG
13 Star Antique Flag with R.H. Macy Stamp 6.JPG
13 Star Antique Flag with R.H. Macy Stamp 7.JPG
13 Star Antique Flag with R.H. Macy Stamp 8.JPG
Framed 13 Star Antique US Flag with R.H. Macy Stencil
Closeup of 13 Star Antique US Flag with R.H. Macy Stencil
13 Star Antique Flag with R.H. Macy Stamp 3.JPG
13 Star Antique Flag with R.H. Macy Stamp 4.JPG
13 Star Antique Flag with R.H. Macy Stamp 5.JPG
13 Star Antique Flag with R.H. Macy Stamp 6.JPG
13 Star Antique Flag with R.H. Macy Stamp 7.JPG
13 Star Antique Flag with R.H. Macy Stamp 8.JPG

13 Star Antique US Flag with R.H. Macy Stencil along the Hoist | Circa 1895-1920s

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Frame Size (H x L): 37” x 45.5”
Flag Size (H x L): 27” x 36”

Offered is a thirteen-star antique flag with square proportions and unusually large stars.  Its stripes and canton are made of wool.  Its stars are made of cotton and are sewn to both sides of the canton (i.e., double appliqued), using a zig-zag stitch.  In August of 1889, Henry Bowman filed a patent application for a "method of making flags," which later issued as an enforceable patent in February of 1892 (US 469,395).  His patent covered the zig-zag stitch, a very distinct back-and-forth sewing method used primarily for affixing stars on flags.  One advantage of the zig-zag stitch is that it can be used to bind the edges of roughly cut stars.  The filing date of the patent, 1889, provides a fantastic "not earlier than date" when one encounters this kind of stitching on a particular flag.  In the case of this flag, because of the zig-zag stitching and the weave of the wool, it likely dates to between 1895 and the 1920s. 

Stenciled along the hoist is “R.H. Macy,” the businessman who founded R.H. Macy and Company.  Because of this stencil, it is clear that this flag was either sold by or flown at a Macy’s department store.  The stencil is very difficult to read, but we were able to identify it because we recently handled a similar flag with a similar stencil.  The presence of such a stencil is significant.  Without it, the provenance of this flag would be lost, which unfortunately is often the case with antique flags.        

The 3-2-3-2-3 pattern, which looks like a diamond of stars surrounded by corner stars, is sometimes referred to as the Hopkinson pattern after Francis Hopkinson.  While no one knows for sure, it may have been the star pattern for the first flag (not the Betsy Ross pattern).  While it is clear that Betsy Ross made flags in in Philadelphia in the 1770's, there is no evidence that she made the first flag in the form of letters, articles, journals, or records.  Historians generally do not accept that Ross designed or made the first flag, and instead support that Hopkinson designed it.  Hopkinson was a member of the Continental Congress, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and a lawyer.  The evidence supporting Hopkinson's role includes his claim to Congress, for payment, for having furnished the design of "the flag of the United States of America."  Hopkinson asked to be paid in "a Quarter Cask of public wine" and later asked to be paid in $1,440 in Continental paper.  Both payments, however, were refused by Congress.  Congress agreed that Hopkinson had a role in the design, but refused to pay him because he "consulted" other men.

The original use of the thirteen-star flag dates to June 14th, 1777, the time at which the Continental Congress adopted a resolution creating the first official flag.  The resolution stated, “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, that the union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.”  Thirteen-star flags were official from 1777-1795, but have been in use ever since. 

Small US Navy boats used it as the ensign from 1795 until 1916.  Thirteen-star flags were also flown at the time of George Washington’s death in 1799 and to celebrate the nation’s 50th anniversary in 1824.  They were also flown in 1824 in honor of General Lafayette’s return to the US for his nationwide tour.  Celebrations for his Revolutionary War service were held in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, along with many locations in the southern and western states. 

Further, thirteen-star flags were also common during the Mexican War in 1846-1848 and the Civil War in 1861-1865.  They were both relatively close in time to the revolution, and were very patriotic times, particularly during the Civil War time period when flag use became much more common than had ever previously been the case.  Thirteen-star flags were also flown during the centennial celebrations, which were held across the country and, most notably, in Philadelphia at the Centennial International Exhibition. 

Conservation Process: This flag was hand sewn to silk organza, and both were hand sewn to cotton fabric.  The silk organza provides a strong layer of protection and a professional appearance.  The flag, the silk organza, and the cotton fabric were then hand sewn to a mounting board.  To prevent the black dye in the cotton fabric from seeping into the flag, it was first washed in a standard wash and then in a dye setting wash.  The flag is positioned behind a UV resistant acrylic, and spaced apart therefrom using spacers.  The frame is gold in color, substantial, and beautiful.     

Condition Report: The flag has some minor mothing, tears, and holes.  Some of the holes are masked with white fabric (see the close-up images).  Still it presents wonderfully, and many collectors prefer flags that show their use and age.

Collectability Level: The Great – Perfect for Rising Collectors  
Date of Origin: 1895-1920s  
Number of Stars: 13
Associated War: Spanish-American War (1898)    
Associated State: Original 13 Colonies

 

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