Handmade 13 Star Flag with a Betsy Ross Pattern | Circa 1953-1976

Handmade 13 Star Flag with a Betsy Ross Pattern
2. Antique Betsy Ross Flag.jpg
3. Antique Betsy Ross Flag.JPG
Handmade 13 Star Flag with a Betsy Ross Pattern
2. Antique Betsy Ross Flag.jpg
3. Antique Betsy Ross Flag.JPG

Handmade 13 Star Flag with a Betsy Ross Pattern | Circa 1953-1976

495.00

Frame Size (H x L): 28” x 19”
Flag Size (H x L): 21” x 13”

Offered is a handmade thirteen-star flag with a Betsy Ross star pattern.  It belonged to E.J. Spring, who was a soldier in the 30th Infantry Division, Signal Corp.  He fought in World War I, and this flag was discovered in his estate.

The stripes, the canton, and the hoist of this flag are made of either nylon or polyester.  Nylon is not particularly resistant to UV light, and thus the fading of the canton and hoist indicates that they may be nylon.  Polyester is resistant to UV light, and thus the brighter colors and slightly different texture of the stirpes indicates that they may be made of polyester. 

The stripes are handsewn to one another, and they are handsewn to the canton.  The hoist is machine sewn to the stripes and canton.  The stars of this flag are silver and commercially made.  They may be stickers or alternatively they may be cutouts that were glued to the canton.  The bottom of this flag includes a yellow fringe that is machine sewn to the stripes.

Nylon was first commercially produced in 1939, while polyester was first commercially produced in 1953.  From this, we believe that this flag was made after 1939 and more than likely after 1953, as the stripes appear to be made of polyester (as discussed above).  We believe that this flag may have been made in 1976 to celebrate America’s bicentennial, a time at which flags were made in volume (though not with the traits that make this flag so interesting). 

While many of us were taught that Betsy Ross designed and made the first flag, and that it had thirteen stars in such a pattern, it is a myth.  It took hold, in 1870, when William Canby, the grandson of Ross, told the Historical Society of Pennsylvania that Ross designed and made the flag at George Washington’s request.  His only evidence was in the form of self-serving family affidavits.  The myth was further propagated by Rachel Albright and Sarah Wilson—Ross’s granddaughter and great-granddaughter, respectively—when they began making and selling “Betsy Ross” flags in Independence Hall in Philadelphia.   

It is clear that Betsy Ross made flags in in Philadelphia in the 1770’s, but 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 accept that Francis Hopkinson was the first to design 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 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. 

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 Conservation Clear Acrylic (standard) or behind Optium Museum Acrylic (per request).

Frame: This offering is in an antique frame.  It includes a walnut outer layer and gold inner layer.

Condition: This flag exhibits some fading, and the arms of the stars are not entirely intact.  In other respects, this flag is in excellent condition and presents well.   

Collectability Level: The Good – Perfect for Beginning Collectors and Gifts
Date of Origin: 1953-1976
Number of Stars: 
13
Associated State: 
Original 13 Colonies

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