American Flags Made From Hemp

Discussion in 'American Flag History' started by EmailPoster, Jun 6, 2006.

  1. EmailPoster

    EmailPoster New Member

    I doubt that this will be seriously taken into consideration given the sad...
  2. jproffitt10

    jproffitt10 Guest

    Perry Boero,

    It is sad that a viable, commercial agricultural product has been lost due to abuse by some, as its loss harms many financially. While I understand that in the past, hemp has been used for hundreds of commercial products--including American flags, it is now for the most part, a non-issue as its use is extremely limited and more often than not, frowned upon in the production of consumer goods. Currently hemp products are more of a novelty than anything else.

    With that said, the American way is to lobby for change if you do not like a particular law. It seems like you are doing that and if that is what you believe in then keep it up. As a citizen of a "nation of laws, not men" all you have to do convince enough people of your viewpoint and then get them to the polls. Good luck with your endeavor.
  3. atcoleness

    atcoleness New Member

    Does anyone know where it is possible to buy an american flag made from hemp? there is one site i found that claims to sell them; however, it appears that they are out of business or something, i tried to call the number but the line is out. If anyone knows anything on this it would be greatly appreciated.
  4. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    I came across that same company. What a shame, as they were actually making their flags according the to the official specs. If you are able to contact them let me know as I would love one of their flags.
  5. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    I read on the site "Betsy Ross made the first flag of the United States of America out of the finest, strongest fiber available, hemp fabric."

    That's a load of BS. Betsy Ross, like all the other professional flagmakers in Philadelphia at the time, used English wool bunting to make her flags. So was the Star Spangled Banner in the Smithsonian that the hempmuseum thinks is made of "linen." (At least it was not made of linen, according to the British WOOL expert/consultant that the Smithsonian brought on board during the early stages of the flag's conservation. I was standing next to him when the staff was rolling the SSB up in order to take it out of the main hall to the conservation lab a few hundred feet to the west. I could almost feel him cringe over the way they were handling that delicate WOOL flag.)

    Since bunting was not made in the USA until the late Civil War era, all American flags, from 1776 to the 1860's, were made of imported English bunting (except for those few home made flags of linen or standards of silk.)

    A more reputable site says "There are no existing 18th-century American flags made of cotton, since this fiber was not readily available in America until after 1800. Cotton sewing thread was not manufactured commercially until the 19th-century. Eighteenth-century documentation, bills, invoices, and descriptions, and examination of all the surviving flags from this period indicate that they were made of silk, linen, or wool bunting. "

  6. TomBrooklyn

    TomBrooklyn New Member

    What materials were English and American bunting made from?
  7. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Hello Tom,

    Thanks for your question. The short answer is "wool."

    In my previous message in this string I stated, "Betsy Ross, like all the other professional flagmakers in Philadelphia at the time, used English wool bunting to make her flags." "Bunting" was a lightly woven woolen fabric that floated easily with the slightest breeze.

    Here is an example of a hand-sewn wool bunting flag:
    13 Star US Navy Boat Flag1882 Hand Sewn Stars and Stripes - Size 7 Ensign | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Most commecially made flags through the 19th century used wool bunting. Note that the vast majority of flags made at that time were signal flags - ships needed relatively few national ensigns compared to the full suite of signal flags. Some larger flagmakers also dyed flag designs on wool bunting but these flags are relatively scarce compared to sewn flags.

    Here is an example of a dyed wool bunting flag:
    37 Star Flag U.S. Bunting Company Clamp-dyed | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Regarding American flags, many home made flags used cotton sheeting as that was a common fabric for making clothing. Cotton sheeting was also used by flag manufacturers to make smaller printed flags, but it really wasn't until the early 20th C that cotton bunting came on the scene. It was usually termed "moth proof bunting" as moth larvae ate wool fibers, not cotton.

    Here is a detail of a 48star flag made of cotton bunting:
    48 Star Flag of Dreadnaught cotton bunting | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Linen was very rarely used for flags. In the early days before the cotton gin was invented, stars applied to wool flags were often made of linen, but very few of those flags exist today.

    Antique wool bunting flags are somtimes erroniously referred to as made of "hessian" fabric, but hessian is burlap cloth and was not used for flags.

    For a full treatise on flagmaking, google "Thirteen Star Flags Keys to Identification" by Grace Rogers Cooper. The Smitsonian has that publication on line in PDF form.

    Nick A
    Columbia Maryland
  8. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    Hi Nick,
    You really ought to consider putting together a photographic album of your collection. With so many historic flags, it would be a great educational tool.
  9. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Kind of you to say that. I do, indeed, plan to write a book on collecting flags and flag ephemera. The lessons that you learn from collecting these artifacts will be the primary focus of the book.

    Nick A
    Columbia MD
  10. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    :) Great! Can't wait!
  11. vcpiliponis

    vcpiliponis New Member

    Hi I am wandering what the very first American flag was made of. I would like to start making the American flags myself. I have always heard for years that George Washingtons Wife made the first american flag out of hemp. Then I read on here that some lady named Betsy made it. I am so confused now after reading the posts on here. Do you have proof to back it up that the old flags you are viewing are not hemp fibers? They are wool?? I need to know the real and true history behind this if I am going to make an Americian flag how it used to be made originally. I also need to know the true history to share with people.


  12. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Hello Vanessa,
    The absolute truth: We don't know
    The likely answer: wool bunting

    Since there is no record of who really made the first USA flag of 13 stars and 13 stripes, or when or even where it was made, we don't really know anything absolutely about it. However, what we DO know is that nearly all flags were made of one of two materials: flags for use on ships were made of wool bunting (and until the 1860's, all wool bunting was imported from England.) Flags used by land forces were generally made of silk, and most often had hand-painted symbols on them. Since the 1777 resolution by Congress that established the Flag of the United States on 14 June was passed while they were considering Naval matters, it is very likely that the flag of 13 stars and 13 stripes was concieved as the national Ensign for use at sea. Therefore, I have to assume that the first USA flags of 13 stars and 13 stripes were made of English wool bunting. Furthermore, the US Army was not authorized to carry the stars and stripes into battle until the 1840's. Land forces used different flags, generally blue silk with the US Eagle and shield painted on them.

    Nick A
    Columbia Maryland
  13. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    Hi Vanessa,
    Concerning the legend of Betsy Ross making the first flag you may find this link very informative:
    The Legend of Betsy Ross
  14. Gaven32

    Gaven32 New Member

    The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper too.Hemp products are not illegal. What is illegal is growing it. There are countries who export hemp products to the US and companies that sell them here.Hemp is a low grade material that is very different from the pot people smoke.
  15. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Welcome to the USA Flag Forum, Gaven32.
    However your statement that the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper is an "urban legend" or myth. It is written on parchment, which is animal skin.
    Nick A
    Columbia Maryland
  16. Gaven32

    Gaven32 New Member

    Ok thanks for correction Nick....
  17. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Apparently the DRAFT of the Declaration of Independence was written on paper made from plant fibers, but they haven't yet conducted a forensic analysis to determine exactly which plants were used in that paper production.

    Nick A
  18. burtiswalker

    burtiswalker New Member

    The first flag and all flags for many years were made from English bunting, a light weave of wool which would pick up the slightest breeze. Wool, not hemp! Those hemp revisionists have a political axe to grind!
  19. AmericaHurrah

    AmericaHurrah Member

    Hemp may have been used in some hoist bindings, but not in the body of the flag.
  20. Jacquepogo

    Jacquepogo New Member

    If still looking I have one that I'm trying to get info on

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