Thirteen star flags have been produced throughout our
history, and are symbolic of our original 13 colonies
and 13 states at the time of our nation's founding.
Because of this symbolism, Americans are always drawn to
early antique 13 star flags. One might think that
there are many surviving original 13 star flags which
dating to the time of the Revolution, but that is not
the case. In fact, scholars of the American Flag
are not certain if, in fact, any actual period 13 star
flags, from the time of the Revolution, have survived.
Some collectors believe that there are flags that date
from this era, and within the Rare Flags collection, it
is possible that at least one flag, a very rare flag in
the Trumbull pattern,
IAS-00225, dates to this early period. Even
into the 20th century, 13 star flags were produced for
common use, most notably as a maritime ensign aboard
private, commercial and military vessels. The
patterns used for this purpose are varied. Prior
to the Civil War, 13 star flags used for naval ensigns
varied in pattern, but the most common was the 4-5-4
pattern, which was known to date as early as the
Revolutionary period. During the Civil War, a
transition to the Hopkinson pattern of 3-2-3-2-3 stars
emerged in the official regulations, and this pattern
prevailed through the 1870's and 1880's. Another
pattern, the 13 star medallion pattern, emerged during
the period of the American Centennial in 1876.
This pattern is seen on the flag showcased here.
There are a few examples of the pattern that pre-date
the Civil War, but by the 1890's and into the early 20th
century, the medallion pattern 13 star flag became
popular with Americans who apparently wanted some
variation from row patterns that prevailed on the 45,
46, and 48 star flags. Early thirteen star flags,
even from the early 20th century, are scarce.
Flags from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such
as this flag, are usually machine stitched with stars
affixed using a zig-zag stitches.
This particular flag is
especially fine among later period 13 star flag.
It is well proportioned and nearly completely intact,
with only minor mothing. It features a large
center star, which is visually appealing and
interesting. Also, the stars of the flag are
allowed to rotate on their axis--notice how the top
corner stars point in different directions form the
bottom two corner stars. The colors of the flag
remain vibrant. Overall, this rare flag well
represents those later period antique 13 star American
flags produced for modern purposes, but evoke the memory
of the earliest flags of the American Republic.