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Flags that pre-date the American Civil War are very rare.  Those in certain star counts, such as this flag of 24 stars, are almost non-existent.  This beautiful ship's flag dates to as early as 1821, representing Missouri statehood, and it is a treasure of the collection.  In 1836, following the admission of Arkansas, a large 25th star was added to the flag to update the star count.  Both 24 and 25 star flags are exceedingly rare, with just a small handful known to survive.  Although among collectors smaller flags are generally more sought after, I'm personally very attached to these majestic large ship's flags from the early-to-mid 19th century.  Flags of this period were almost never made for personal use.  The few survivors of the period were typically made for maritime or Navy use.  They show the age and character of that time in American history where our sailing ships traveled the world, building up our nation's trade and influence.  These large flags were grand signals of our national presence, and they were often the first recognizably American symbol that people in foreign ports, unfamiliar with America itself, came to recognize as the symbol of our nation.  This flag, like others of the type, show the character of the sailors who maintained these flags.  There are numerous expert repairs to the flag, all entirely hand sewn.  The wool bunting of the flag has survived remarkably intact.  In fact, the flag exists in the exact same state and condition as when it was last handled by the sailors who originally cared for the flag.  Writing on the hoist indicates "5 yrd", indicating that the flag is 5 yards long on the fly (15 feet).  While this is one of the largest flags in the collection, its rarity and early age still make it an extremely desirable example. This wonderful flag, as well as other early 19th century ship's flags in the Rare Flags collection, are among my favorite sub-type of in the collection.  These flags are also important from a scholarly perspective, since their star counts allow them to be accurately dated to relatively narrow periods of time.  The wool bunting, cotton stars, dyes, threads, whip stitched grommets, patch materials, and other qualities of the flag help to compare these earlier period flags as a point of reference to later period flags of the Civil War era or Centennial era.


 
Click here to learn how Americans update their flags with additional stars. Star Count:  24 Stars, Updated to 25 Stars

Dates:  1821-1836

War Era:  None

Statehood:  Missouri, Arkansas

Construction:  Wool Bunting with Cotton Stars

Catalog Number:  IAS-00319

Click here to learn about how Americans repair their flags.

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13 Stars, Bennington Flag
Homemade Hand Sewn, Circa 1976


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