Flag Stars & Material

Discussion in 'US Flag Specs and Design' started by csaanv, Apr 10, 2010.

  1. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    This is my first post but I have been a member for awhile. I collect all kinds of flags but the bulk of my collection has been older US flags, mostly 48 stars. Like UK (Robin) I love G-spec flags and even wished that all American flag makers would make US flags accordingly to the government specs. The larger stars and longer fly makes for a better visible flag in my opinion. Also I wished they would go back to appliquéing stars too. I understand the economics of the machine made flags but before long all we will have is printed flags if the trend continues. Anyway, enough of my grandstanding. I do have a couple of questions about flag materials that maybe my NAVA buddies, Nick and Peter could answer. First, exactly when did the Annin Company start mass embroidering of the stars on their US flags. I have a US Naval Jack and Ensign maybe from the 70's that the stars are appliqued but everything since has been embroidered. I am trying to nail down a precise date. Also I noticed that Annin started using a different type "cotton" in the last 10 years or so. It is lighter but very stiff and rough. My older cotton flags were supple and soft to the touch. I mentioned Annin since they were usually the leader in these trends but any major flag company will do. Is there a resource that would give a history of these types of trends?
  2. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    My second question was when did Annin go to this new type of "cotton"?
  3. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Hello csaanv,

    We have met before on eBay so welcome to the USA Flag forum.

    I will have to check my Annin catalogs to see when they started touting their huge Swiss embroidery machine that could stitch a large number of cantons at a time. It may give some clue to when they made the switch, but I suspect they used embroidery on a smaller scale before then.

    As far as the use of various fabrics I don't think you'll get much useful info from the flagmakers themselves. Oddly enough, I've only found one who had any sense of history, and that was Bill Spangler of Dettra. I visited his factory in the 1980's and had a nice chat about the business and how it has changed over the years. I should have brought a tape recorder with me.

    But Jim Ferrigan has dealt very closely with both Annin and Dettra over the years and he, too, bemoans the fact that flagmakers record very little of their history for posterity. When Annin moved from NYC to NJ they trashed their entire 1847-1960's material as so much waste paper.

    If you are lucky you may be able to contact the company and find a person who recalls the change in cotton fabric and give you some details.
    Good luck.

  4. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    Thanks Nick for your informative reply. I suspect we have made bids together or should I say against each other more than once on ebay as we seem to have the same flag interests. Also I have seen you on the CWflags forum too. I agree with you that it is a shame that flag makers don't keep their history. With Annin gobbling up Dettra there are not too many older companies left out there. I can think of Valley Forge, Collegeville, Chicago Flag and US Flag and Signal which has been here in Tidewater, Virginia since the 1930's. Maybe you know of others. I do have a friend in Danville, Virginia who has a patient that works in Aninn's South Boston plant who says he can try to give me some information. You bought up the fact and I have seen a few embroidered 48 star flags on the consumer level and but after 1960 with the addition of 2 new states all consumer flags switched to embroidered stars except I have found an appliquéd 50 star 3' x 5' US. It seems the government/military switched from wool bunting or a wool/rayon or wool/nylon blend to all nylon after the Korean War and waited later until the early 1970's to go embroidered. I have a couple of 48 star nylon ensigns (I believe to be mid-late 1950's) and I have a 50 star jack and a few 50 star naval ensigns that are appliquéd (from the 1960's or 1970's). Of course I am just speculating and I was hoping to get some hard factual evidence for an article I am writing for my local paper. I still see a lot of 50 appliquéd cotton coffin flags on ebay but not in the smaller flags. Again, thank you.
  5. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hi, csaanv ! :D

    Welcome to the USA-Flag-Site Forums !

    I hope you don't mind my briefly butting in, but I have a similar concern regarding "dating" a flag's year of manufacture using the manufacturer's tags, labels, stenciling, and/or other marks.

    I asked about it in a thread but there have been (so far) no replies.


    I thought that because SO many other areas of "antiques" and "collectibles" have manufacturers' marking guides that maybe someone had done the same thing for Flags.

    Anyway, sorry for butting in !

    Thank You for bringing your flag-related question to our Forums !!!

    Robin Hickman
    Eugene, Oregon, USA
  6. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    I am so glad you jumped in. I totally agree it would be wonderful if there was such a reference guide to identify a flag's age, manufacture, etc. but as Nick has said it is unlikely we will get much help from the flag manufacturers or the ones that remain. Grace Rogers Cooper's book "Thirteen-Star Flags" is an excellent resource on 19th century flags but nothing like it has been done for the 20th century to the present. I give "flag talks" to various heritage, civic and patriotic groups in my area and wanted to give more accurate information on dating and accessing the value of a flag. I think we are on the same page. I hope we hear back from Nick and maybe others will join in this thread.
  7. I wondered that too about flag material

    I also have some older Annin flags, and the cotton is sooooo soft!... Maybe I shouldn't admit it, but I am very tactile and i have loved running my hands over the material

    I have noticed very much how the cotton material in more recent flags is not this soft, and its harder almost and a bit rougher too

    I love G-spec flags and have several in my collection.. their nylon ones I have are also very nice to the touch, and fly very well.. they look gorgeous on a pole, and they need very little wind to come to life
  8. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    Hi American_Flag_UK,
    I love G-spec flags too! The nylon bunting that Valley Forge uses (Perma Nyl) is a tight weave process that gives it a nice feel and is light weight too. I am not sure what the process Aninn uses for it's cotton bunting but it is far too stiff and does not flow with the wind. I would like to know what the Bulldog bunting is like since Aninn took over Dettra. Maybe Coasterville can comment?
  9. coasterville

    coasterville Member

    It's not as plush as I remember old flags being. It's actually rough if you rub your hand on it. Also if you hold it up to the light you can see through it, not as dense as it could be. Compare to my cotton Betsy Ross, not annin but a lot heftier and softer to the touch

    Here, let me pass around my annin bulldog star spangled banner for show and tell. :).
  10. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    I honestly don't know if or why Annin's (or anyone ele's) cotton Flag fabric is of a different "type" or "formula". But if it is NOT because of using a different manufacturing (weaving) process (or lowered the thread count), the one thing that popped into my head was the possibility that perhaps the "softer" cotton Flags might be from a higher grade/model. Much like Annin's "Nyl-Glo" Flags compared to their "Signature Series" Flags.

    Or, now that I think of it, maybe it's the difference between an INDOOR Flag and an OUTDOOR Flag?

    Like I said, I don't know, but it's a thought..... :cool:

  11. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    Hi Robin,
    I guess it is possible that Aninn has adopted a cheaper cotton fabric but on their website they even admit:

    "Bulldog cotton U.S. flags are made in the U.S.A. from an extra-strong cotton weave designs to withstand the elements."

    It seems that they kept their cotton product line intact and just renamed it "Bulldog" from the Dettra.
  12. coasterville

    coasterville Member

    I fly the Annin Nyl-Glo for my official flag. How much of an upgrade is the signature series? What's different about it?
  13. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member


    LARGER, Shinier Stars and a few other things. More expensive, of course!

    To prevent this posting from getting snagged by the "Posting Gremlins" ( :mad: ), I'm going to post it WITHOUT the link to the "Signature" page on the Annin.com website. THEN, within the five minute deadline, click the "EDIT" button to re-open it and add the Signature link. :D

    LINK : http://annin.com/products/cat_usflag_signature.asp

    Robin Hickman
    Eugene, Oregon, USA
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2010
  14. coasterville

    coasterville Member

    Thanks for the link. So larger, brighter stars is the big difference. I think even the NYL-GLO has the colorfast and 4 rows of stiching.

    Interestingly I think I have an Annin flag not in the current llineup if you look at the page where they compare their different lines of US flags. It has the Annin imprint on the flag, but instead of Nyl-Glo or Sun-Glo it just says NYLON, the other big difference is that it doesn't have color-matched thread, it's all white thread throughout for the stitchwork. It came from one of thoe big box stores in a plastic blisterpack instead of the usual box they come in at the local flag dealer.

    Also Robin - I see you think you found a way around the "Flag for Moderation" detector, I was wondering why this forum didn't appear to have an Edit button on your own posts. Hadn't heard of the 5 minute window to edit on a forum before.
  15. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hi, Dave !

    In bringing up the "Signature Series", my thought was to show that Annin does sometimes create different "grades" of flags.

    Maybe they did the same thing with the cotton flags? Was it the "grade" of cotton used, the "weave", the "thread count", or what? Did they used to make their own cotton bunting and then out-sourced it, or vice-versa? Maybe it was just a simple corner-cutting cost reduction of using 25% less cotton in their bunting, or something?

    Like I said, I don't really know!

    QUOTE (Coasterville) : "I think I have an Annin flag not in the current llineup..... It has the Annin imprint on the flag, but instead of Nyl-Glo or Sun-Glo it just says NYLON..... It came from one of thoe big box stores in a plastic blisterpack instead of the usual box they come in at the local flag dealer."

    I have one of those too. I Got it at Wal*Mart in a sealed heavy-duty clear plastic bag with a hook on top. Priced at $23.00. The threads are, for the most part, color-matched, and it does have the Annin color stamp on it. However, it is identified as a NYLON Flag but it does NOT say that it's "SOLARMAX" nylon. Oh, and it has size #1 grommets instead of Nyl-Glo's size #2 grommets.

    QUOTE (Coasterville) : "Also Robin - I see you think you found a way around the "Flag for Moderation" detector, I was wondering why this forum didn't appear to have an Edit button on your own posts. Hadn't heard of the 5 minute window to edit on a forum before."

    The next time you make a post, after you've posted it, look at it. Along the bottom, in the lower right-hand corner, there should be two buttons. The one on the outside is labeled, "Quote", and it's always there. The one to it's immediate LEFT (inside) is labeled "Edit". YOU are the ONLY one that will be able to see it, and it will only be there for about five minutes or so. I found that out by accident.

    I don't know if I've found a way around the "Posting Gremlins", or not. It seems to have worked both times that I've tried it. I tried it because the only thing I could think of that might have alerted the Gremlins, was that I put an "outside" link in the "problematic" post, or it was an outside link AND a price/prices. So, I did a "regular" post, submitted it, and when it posted I immediately re-opened it to insert the link.

    I guess the only way to see if putting an outside link and a price into a post is what catches the Gremlin's interest, is to do it.

    Which I guess I'll try to do after posting this. I think I'll use the Ruffin site and include the price of one of their flags. It won't necessarily be an endorsement, but more like a TEST!

  16. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member



    GEE !!! :eek:

    The Ruffin Flag Company just doubled the price of their "Arizona Gadsden Flag" (AKA : BITE ME) from $2.00 each to $4.00 each!

    Don't believe me? GO see for yourself!


    ( While this really is a TEST to see if the "Posting Gremlin" will re route this to the moderator - due to the inclusion of an outside link and prices - the Ruffin Flag Co. really DID double the price of the "Arizona Gadsden Flag" !!! )

    OKAY! NOW to see if this will be posted WITHOUT having to get moderator approval.

    IF it gets posted the regular way (WITHOUT getting re-directed to the Moderator) I will re-open it (EDIT BUTTON) immediately after posting and ADD something to that regard right below this paragraph. IF it gets re-directed, then there will be a BIG gap between this and my name!

    EDIT : This entry was posted IMMEDIATELY without being re-directed to the moderator! Oh, Well!!! The "Mystery" is STILL not solved !!!

    Robin Hickman
    Eugene, Oregon, USA

    PS. I forgot to add a picture to this post! Well, maybe it's too late now, but I'll go ahead and do it anyway! BTW : This PS was added AFTER this post was editted the FIRST time. So this is actually the SECOND "EDIT" !!!


  17. coasterville

    coasterville Member

    Since the group likes photos - I see I have the NYLON close at hand, and I have a new NYL-GLO still in its box. If I get around to it, I'll try to do some comparative photos.

    Actually, it looks like I have some:
    NYLON on left, NYLGLO on right - you can clearly see a difference in the stars.
    In the bottom photo,notice the thread on the red stripe is white on the nylon, but is red on the nyl glo. Also the thread around the edges of the union is white, on a NYLGLO its blue. Other changes are the grommet size as Robin pointed out, and I think the NYLGLO header feels sturdier.
  18. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    Thanks for the photos! Love the photos! This is also good information. Since we are discussing different grades of nylon and flags I must comment that Aninn's Signature brand is intriguing with it's bigger stars, etc. Lately I have stayed away from buying commercial US flags as they seem "inferior" to the G-spec flags from Valley Forge (I know, flag snobbery!), which are mandated with big stars and longer fly. However this Signature line looks very appealing.
  19. coasterville

    coasterville Member

    That's okay, I think I have a case of flag snobbery myself, I just don't like an all printed US flag. For me the stars and stripes have to be real.

    I have a 2008 Annin catalog here, okay its actually the catalog from my local flag shop, which is an Annin dealer. It's the same catalog they had online with no prices, except in the one I got from the flag shop, it had their prices in it.

    In their catalog, a 3x5 Signature flag is $42 outdoor style, $75 for indoor style with gold fringe and pole hem.

    By contrast, the NYL-GLO equivilant is $39.30 outdoor style, $65.50 for the pole hem and fringe - $55 pole hom and no fringe.

    So anyway, there really isn't that big of a price jump (in 2008 price world) between nyl-glo and Signature. Might have to take a look at that.

    ETA: At least those are the catalog prices, I think that's the full rack rate if they have to special order something for you, I know I have never paid them anywhere near $39.30 for the nyl-glo...
  20. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    I am the same way, I try to purchase flags that are all sewn. They seem to be of better quality.

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