Collecting Flags

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Flag Discussion' started by FoxValleyMike, Aug 4, 2018.

  1. FoxValleyMike

    FoxValleyMike Member

    So a question for everyone out there. When you guys and gals add to your collections do you collect vintage historic (expensive) flags or do you get modern reproductions that you just like flying?

    Currently i have the flags listed below but they're all either more modern cotton, cotton/poly flags or poly flags. Sadly most were really cheap Chinese made flags. I did that mostly to jump start my collection with the intention of getting at least swen poly or nylon replacements when these wear out.

    So what all do you guys buy when you add to your collection?


    BTW my collection so far:

    2x3 hanging form my garage ceiling

    21 star US flag (Illinois admittance to union)
    St Patrick's cross
    Green Irish Harp \ Ern Go Bragh flag
    Irish tri color
    Polish w\eagle
    French tri color

    3x5 flags that I use for the flagpole

    (2) 50 star US flags
    Grand Union
    Betsy Ross
    First Navy Jack
    Whisky Rebellion
  2. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Greetings, Mike (FoxValleyMike)!

    I'm not sure where to start. I guess I'm much more of a "collecting Flags so I can fly them" person, rather than a vintage/antique Flag collector person.

    When I started my Flag collection years ago, it was mainly for the purpose of actually flying the Flags I "collected". Some were for specific holidays, or specific events or occasions, or countries, or historical anniversaries, etc. I really didn't have a "plan of action" when it came to adding to my collection, nor do I have one now. Although I have collected different Flags, and different groups of Flags, for different reasons, the bottom line is that the basic idea behind collecting the Flags is to eventually FLY them.

    Almost all the Flags I buy are made in the USA. I do own a few imported Flag, mostly from China, but I prefer the beauty, sturdiness (construction), and availability of American-made Flags. I cannot offer any kind of an objective opinion on Flags made in other countries (other than China, Taiwan, Japan, and one other Asian country whose name escapes me right now) because I have not experienced, first-hand, Flags made in those other countries.

    One of the foreign-made Flags that I own is a 3'x5' printed/dyed nylon "Betsy Ross" Flag. I like flying it because the 13 Stars in the Blue Union (canton) are REALLY, REALLY BIG and fill their assigned space quite nicely! American-made "Betsy Ross" Flags use the same size of Stars that are appropriate for the same sized 50-Star Flag. Which means that although that particular size of Stars is of the correct size to fill the Union of a 50-Star Flag with 50 Stars, those size of stars are WAY too SMALL to "fill" the Union with only 13 Stars. If American Flag makers want to properly fill the Union of a 3'x5' "Betsy Ross" Flag with 13-Stars in a circle, they should probably use the same size of Stars that they would place in the Union of a larger 5'x8' or 6'x10' 50-Star Flag!

    I don't know exactly, or even approximately (or "ball park" guess), how many Flags I currently have. I'll just arbitrarily put the number @ 800 Flags. Of those, I'll arbitrarily guess that 200, or maybe 250, are my personal collection. The rest, for the most part, are available for sale. The sale of those Flags helps to pay for any new Flags that I want to add to my personal collection. There's no real profit to the whole thing, but it helps to keep the costs of collecting Flags that I want down to a level that is acceptable to my wife... If you know what I mean!

    There is a lot more I could say/write about my approach to the Flags I have collected, but maybe I should save that until next time. There are plenty of "happy" occasions to fly a number of my Flags, but there are some not-so-happy occasions to fly my Flags too. I am forever grateful that some of the Flags that I've added to my collection were there to be flown/displayed during some of those tragic "Half-Staff" occasions. But, as they say, that a whole other story for some other time.

    It's perfectly OK (with me) to start your Flag collecting hobby with foreign-made, imported Flags, as long as you work to replace them with heavier-duty, longer-lasting American-made Flags. One of the "nicer" things about having American-made Flags in your collection is that when you're showing your collection to somebody, there will be fewer times that you may have to apologize for your cheap "imported" Flags! I'm not trying to be, or even sound , "provincial" about this. It's just kind of the way it is here in the USA. For instance, when people ask me about the difference between flying a foreign-made American Flag versus one made in the USA, I offer up my observation that it all depends on whether you think (or feel) it's more important WHERE the Flag was MADE, or WHAT country it REPRESENTS. Either way, if you're living in the USA and flying a USA Flag, I think you're all straightened-up and flying right!

    Thank you for reading!

    Robin Hickman
    "Your Friendly Neighborhood Flag Man"
    Eugene, Oregon, USA.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
  3. FoxValleyMike

    FoxValleyMike Member

    Thanks for the reply Robin. I started this off with the mentality of "collecting" the flags with the intention of flying or displaying them. So far that's what I've been doing. There seems to be a lot of questions here about collecting vintage/historical flags though so I was curious what everyone else was into. Not that i have room for historic flag displays......or a wife that would willingly permit another collection/hobby.

    I certainly agree with you on the flags being American made. One of my flags, the First Navy Jack, is already falling apart (the grommets are ripping out) and it has only been flown 5 or 6 times maybe, and another has a run in the poly fabric right thru the center of the flag. The First Navy Jack is my first candidate for replacement right now. There's actually a flag maker based out of my hometown (J C Schultz / Flagsource) that I'll likely buy from when I can. So not only would I be buying American made, but I'd be supporting a business in my town, a win-win in my book. I can say my two 50 star US flags are Annin and made in the US at least for the time being.

    I do think it would be neat to have my Irish and Polish flags actually made in Ireland and Poland, but in the end not really that important.
  4. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hi, Mike!

    I happen to have several extra 3'x5' Nylon "First Navy Jack" Flags on hand, as well as a great many other Flags. Here, locally, I sell most of my 3'x5' nylon Flags for $20 each (MSRP = $38-$42 each), but there are a few that are much harder to find (and more expensive to buy) that I sell for $25-$30 each. No matter which Flag, size, or fabric, I do my best to set my price to as close to 50% of the MSRP as I can. I can't always make the 50% price-point, but it's still a good goal. A few of the Flags I have they just don't make anymore, and I would have to think long and hard about setting a price for them.

    If you have any Flags in particular that you're interested in just ask me. Who knows? I just might have EXACTLY what you're looking for!

    Keep On Collecting!

    Robin Hickman
    "Your Friendly Neighborhood Flag Man"
    Eugene, Oregon, USA.
  5. FoxValleyMike

    FoxValleyMike Member

    I need to pull my First Navy Jack out again and see how bad it is. Not sure that thin poly material is very fixable unfortunately.

    I just added two new flags to my collection, got a Polish Underground State flag for my b-day (printed poly flag, cant find anything other than that online), and I just purchased a sewn/embroidered Star Spangled Banner which if I get lucky will arrive a few days before the 9/14 anniversary.
  6. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    I'm displaying my sewn/appliqued 3'x5' First Navy Jack on the front of my house as part of my tribute/memorial for Senator John McCain. I put together a special Flags Display in his honor last Friday (August 24th, 2018) and have kept it up since then (except at night - I don't have a lighting system for it), and will continue to do so until Sundown on Sunday, September 2nd. I taken pictures of the display and I've posted them on Facebook, but not here. Or at least not yet. Soon, I hope.

    I have several SSB's, but I haven't got the "Dancing Stars" version... yet. I have 10 or 12 little 2'x3' SSB's that were made by/for the Ruffin Flag Company. The SSB's have their Stars sewn INTO the Union, instead of ON it. It's like they cut the Star-shapes out, then sewed different material into the star-shaped holes. Weird!

    I managed to get about 10 3'x5' U.S. Flags flown above the U.S. Capitol on September 14th, 2014: the Bicentennial of Francis Scott Key writing his poem "The Defence Of Fort McHenry", which became the words of our National Anthem. Boy! Talk about flying history!!!

  7. Dexter Cole

    Dexter Cole Member

    Mike, you make it sound as if there is no middle ground between the inexpensive flags and those way up in price. I, myself am in the middle area. I will never be able to drop thousands on a flag but I can often find flags around $100 and often, well below that mark. I am a "type" collector and buy what appeals to me. Just today I found a nice, large 45 star flag in very good condition for under $100 including shipping. I think it's a good price for something over 100 years old. I have some that are literally ripped to shreds, it seems they've done their job and I give them a home. Another recent purchase was a 48 star flag, ripped up pretty good. It was grabbed from a VN war protester in the 60's in San Francisco during a protest by an old veteran who didn't like to see our flag mistreated. I paid about $20 for it and I love it. I buy what appeals to me and not with resale in mind.

    Robin, you have over 800 flags? Wow
  8. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hi, Dexter!

    Yes, but the "800" is just a guess on my part. It might only be 600-700 Flags, or it could be over 1,000 Flags.

    Mostly U.S. Flags, but also Military & POW*MIA, States, Foreign Countries, assorted "specialty" Flags. Different sizes, mostly "house" Flag sizes, but also U.S. Flags clear up to 20'x38'.

    If you're looking for a particular Flag, or Flags, let me know. Hey! Who knows? I just might have it!

    FlagAdvocate likes this.
  9. FlagAdvocate

    FlagAdvocate Member

    Fascinating discussion. On some cold and wintery day Robin, you should attempt to develop a digital descriptive inventory and catalogue of your flag collection. With a click of your cursor, you would know exactly what you have at any given point in time...just a thought.
  10. Dexter Cole

    Dexter Cole Member

    Well, if it's only 600-700 then that's hardly a sickness you (we) have.

    Robin, I have a real weakness for WW2 US Navy flags, they don't have to be Mare Islands but since those are dated, I like them. The more torn, worn, ripped, stained, dirty, the better.
  11. FoxValleyMike

    FoxValleyMike Member

    Sorry Dexter, didnt mean to imply that there was no middle ground. I was more curious what everyone else was doing.

    Myself, i more enjoy flying different flags than collecting anything because of historical significance. I'm fine with a modern reproduction of a historical flag just because I like the way it looks.
  12. Dexter Cole

    Dexter Cole Member

    Mike, I occasionally will pull an old large Navy flag out to fly but usually only on special days and only for one day. These are now at least 75 years old and we have to be careful not to damage them.

    Good collecting to you all.

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