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Lot 141: 21 Star Silk American Flag 1818-1819

Est: $8,000 USD - $12,000 USDSold:
J.T. Francis AuctionsDecember 05, 2015Wilmington, NC, US

Item Overview


21 Star Silk American Flag 1818-1819 Very rare 21 Star American National Flag circa 1818-1819 made entirely of silk, boasting peek-a-boo stars with a Great Star pattern, is conceivably one of only a few known flags of this kind in existence today. There are only five or six known period examples of the 21 Star Flag in existence to date, and of those only two are identified as being made entirely of silk; one has a snowflake pattern which was sold by American Antiques, the only other known example is this flag which is designed in the Great Star pattern. The Great Star pattern also known as the “Grand Luminary” is one of the most sought after designs among distinguished American Flag Collectors today. Captain Samuel Reid circa 1815-1820 proposed the Great Star pattern as a way to promptly identify the flag at sea, and at the same time it permitted stars to be added more easily as more states entered into the union. Reid’s proposal was rejected by then President Monroe, however, despite the pattern not being officially adopted, the practice of making flags with the Great Star pattern continued and displayed on flags as early as 1818. Illinois became the 21st State to enter into the Union on December 3, 1818 and became official on July 4, 1819. Before long the 21 Star Flag was replaced by the 23 star flag on July 4, 1820. The 21 Star flags that were made before the addition of the 22cd state, (December 14th, 1819) were more likely homemade and not manufactured by a private company due to the fact the pattern was never approved. There are additional examples of patterns for the 21 Star flag that have been made to represent the Confederacy prior to and during the Civil War, which are called Exclusionary and Succession flags-also classified as very rare. The hand sewn silk peek-a-boo stars are visible and displayed on both sides of the flag. In this example the canton is cut out in order to display the same star on the reverse side creating the peek-a-boo design. This was common practice in early American Flags primarily due to the lack of available material at that time, however, this flag made entirely of silk including the stars were more likely made for a wealthy family. If this were the case the family may have chosen the peek-a-boo star as a choice rather than necessity. HISTORY: According to the previous owner the flag was discovered in a barn in Ohio following a fire that had engulfed the family home and barn. When the flag was uncovered it was found to have sustained damage from the heat of the fire primarily where it was folded along the edges on one side. CONDITION: Very good condition taking into consideration the flag’s typical ageing along with damage sustained due to the fire, there are three vertical scorch marks from the top of the flag to the bottom resulting in fracturing, the flag is entirely made of silk-tested and confirmed by experts in textiles using microscopy, the stripes display minor stains but maintain a wonderful crisp color, the canton has sustained scorch marks due to the fire but is a deep rich blue color containing 21 silk stars.

Payment & Shipping


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Auction Details

Fall Americana

J.T. Francis Auctions
December 05, 2015, 11:30 AM EST

7017 Old Field Rd, Wilmington, NC, 28411, US


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CONDITION OF ITEMS SOLD - All items are sold as is, where is, with all faults. All items should be examined in person prior to bidding. Descriptions of items appearing in prior advertising are believed to be correct. However, descriptions or any oral statements made by the auctioneer or his agents or officers concerning any item shall not be construed as a warranty, either expressed or implied. Your bidding will signify that you have examined the items as fully as you desire, or that you have chosen not to examine them.

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Auction House will ship, at Buyer's expense