beautiful 13 Star Flag is one of the rarest in the
collection and is a masterpiece of early American Flag
making and American Folk Art. The flag descended
in the Dyer Family of Rhode Island. According to
family tradition, it was a gift given in the 1840's to
the sons of Elisha Dyer Sr. The age of the flag is
yet unknown and requires further analysis, but the
construction of the flag, with its unusual canton, pink
silk stripes, and all hand sewn construction supports an
attribution of the flag as being pre-Civil War.
Furthermore, the arrangement of the stars to the right
of the canton is intriguing, in that the maker seems to
have intentionally positioned the stars in anticipation
of adding new ones in the future. This would be
unexpected in a 13 star flag made as a later
commemoration of the original 13 colonies, and such a
design decision could indicate that the flag is in fact
a period 18th century flag, perhaps gifted later to the
Dyer family from previous owner. The earliest attributed
flag in the Rare Flags collection, an American National
Flag with 19 Stars Updated to 25 Stars (IAS-00001)
also has this trait, whereby the original stars are
intentionally sewn to the right of the canton with space
left for new stars. It is a period flag,
originally dating to Indiana statehood in 1816.
I am aware of just a handful of early silk American
Flags which exhibit coloration similar to this flag.
Of these, their age attributions range from the late
18th century through the Civil War. (Click
here to see a comparison of these to the Dyer Flag).
It's apparent from the exceptional condition of this
flag that it was not flown outdoors for any period of
time, and the pink coloration is even on both sides,
indicating that either the red dye of the stripes faded
naturally, perhaps in dark storage, or that the fabric
was initially pink in color when the flag was
constructed. In any case, despite all speculation
about the flag's age or flag maker's intentions, the
extraordinarily beautiful flag is an American treasure
and a gem of a flag, carefully preserved by generations
of the Dyer family.
Elisha Dyer Sr. (b. July 20, 1811, d. May 17, 1890) was
elected Adjutant General of Rhode Island in 1840, and
held the post for five years. It seems that while
at this post, the Dyer Flag was gifted to his sons.
He then went on to serve as the Governor of Rhode Island
from 1857-1859. Elisha Dyer Jr. (b. November 29,
1839, d. November 29, 1906) to whom this flag was
gifted, also went on to serve as the Governor of Rhode
Island from 1897-1900 and the Mayor of Providence, Rhode
Island from 1904 until his death in 1906.
Elisha Dyer Sr. According to family
tradition, the flag was gifted to his sons
during the period when he served as Adjutant
General for the Rhode Island Militia, c1840.
He later served as Governor of the State of
Elisha Dyer Jr., one of
the sons of Elisha Dyer Sr., to whom the flag
was gifted as a child. He rose to the rank
of Brigadier General in the Rhode Island
Militia, and later served as Governor of the
State of Rhode Island and Mayer of Providence,