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This charming American Flag of the Centennial Era provides an interesting example of how variations of design, construction, age and form can elevate a flag among its peers as true rarity. Americans have made thirteen star flags throughout our history, both as a show of patriotism and also for practical purposes.  Consequently, antique thirteen star flags are not as scarce as one might expect (although actual period 18th century examples are virtually unknown).  Yet traits of this flag are unusual and, taken together, most likely unique.

The medallion pattern on this flag is most commonly found on smaller printed parade flags, and is unusual on larger sewn flags which were more often arranged into the 3-2-3-2-3 Francis Hopkinson pattern.  The presence of a subtly larger center star is another visually attractive embellishment.  Another rare trait is the fact that the canton of the flag only spans six stripes instead of seven and sits on a red stripe, known as the "blood stripe", on speculation that this design was done intentionally during time of war.  My experience with flags makes me skeptical that this was the case, and instead I believe it was merely driven by available materials and the whim of the seamstress.  This flag, for example, is most likely a post-Civil War flag made during peace time.  A clear indicator that the flag was homemade, aside from its all-cotton construction, is the lack of a hoist.  Instead, the stripes and canton are stitched to form a sleeve hoist through which a thin rope is still present.  Although later period wool thirteen star medallion flags were made for maritime use as small ensigns, this flag, given its construction from cotton, which would have been a poor choice for extended outdoor use. This is good evidence that it was made to fly on land, which is uncommon for thirteen star flags.  Overall, the beautiful handiwork, simplicity of design, and folky design and execution makes the flag a rarity among its peers, and a wonderful example of the type. 
 


 
Learn more about the many patterns of 13 Star flags. Star Count:  13

Dates:  c1876

War Era:  None

Statehood:  Original 13 Colonies

Construction:  Cotton

Catalog Number:  IAS-00184

   

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48 Stars, Armistice Day
November 11, 1918


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