An Extremely Rare 13 Star Antique US Flag with a Six-Pointed Great Star or a Star of David | A Very Early Example and in a Large Scale | Circa 1848-1865

An Extremely Rare 13 Star Antique US Flag with a Six-Pointed Great Star or a Star of David
13 Star Antique American Flag with a Star of David Configuration on the Canton 2.jpg
Great Seal of the United States 1890.jpg
An Extremely Rare 13 Star Antique US Flag with a Six-Pointed Great Star or a Star of David
13 Star Antique American Flag with a Star of David Configuration on the Canton 2.jpg
Great Seal of the United States 1890.jpg

An Extremely Rare 13 Star Antique US Flag with a Six-Pointed Great Star or a Star of David | A Very Early Example and in a Large Scale | Circa 1848-1865

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Frame Size (H x L): 14.5” x 19”  
Flag Size (H x L): 8” x 12”  

Offered is a thirteen-star antique flag printed on glazed cotton, and dating to between 1848 and 1865, the former date being based on the early use of flags for the presidential election of 1848, and the latter date being based on the conclusion of the Civil War.  Printed parade flags exhibiting this pattern are extremely rare, and come in what we refer to as small, medium, and large varieties.  The small variety is the most common of the three, but still quite difficult to encounter relative to other 19th century flag configurations.  The medium variety is limited to just four known examples, one of which includes a “Lincoln & Hamlin” overprint.  And the large variety includes the flag being shown and offered, which is the only one that we have ever encountered or are aware of.  The extreme rarity of flags exhibiting six-pointed stars, plus their construction and dyes, indicates that these flags date to the Civil War or earlier (i.e., a time at which flags were rarely used for patriotic purposes).     

The reason for including a six-pointed star is unknown, but can likely be explained in one of the two following ways: 

As a first theory, the six-pointed star may represent the six-pointed star over the Great Seal of the United States.  The Great Seal, as shown in the image, is meant to authenticate documents issued by the Federal Government and dates to 1782.  Francis Hopkinson played a key role in designing the Great Seal, and is also credited by most historians as being the designer of the United States’ flag (in contrast to Betsy Ross).  Original sketches of the stars on the Great Seal were randomly placed, but the engraver of the original Great Seal die chose a six-pointed star design, based on English Heraldry.

As a second, alternative theory, the six-pointed star may represent the Star of David, a symbol of modern Judaism, and a reference based on the Biblical King and his shield.  The original use of the Star of David dates back hundreds of years, and was used to mark ancestry and decorate books, for example.  Beginning in the 19th century, however, European Jews began using the Star of David as a religious symbol, particularly after integrating into Christian communities.  This timing is consistent with the age of this flag (1848-1865).  In addition, the shade of the blue canton is consistent with the shade of the standard Star of David.  While antique flags exhibit a variety of unique colors, this particular shade of the blue canton is quite unique in our experience, and provides support for this second theory. 

While we may never know whether this flag was made to align with our first theory or our second, what we can say for sure is that this flag is among the rarest that we have ever offered, and likewise among the most beautiful.  It will meet the demands of even the most selective collectors and designers.      

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 cotton fabric, and both were 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 antique frame includes a walnut outer layer and a gold inner layer.  It dates to between 1860 and 1890.     

Condition Report: The flag exhibits some minor tears and losses, and appears to exhibit its original adhesive along its hoist strip.  The stripes of this particular flag are faded, and are closer to orange than red.  Such a color is a result of the use of either madder or cochineal to create the red dye, and is common in flags dating to between 1848 and 1880.  Flags made with these crude dyes tend to exhibit what may be perceived as condition issues.  Many collectors, however, view this aging as a positive attribute that is to be celebrated.              

Collectability Level: The Best – Perfect for Advanced Collectors  
Date of Origin: 1848-1865  
Number of Stars: 13
Associated War: The Civil War (1861-1865)   
Associated State: Original 13 Colonie 

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