How to preserve a 38 Star 3*5 Flag

Discussion in 'Flag Identification and Collecting' started by Petesza, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. Petesza

    Petesza New Member

    Hi, glad I found your site!

    My family owns a 38 star flag that has stamped on the strip that holds the brass rings "Patented April 26 1870 and May 2d 1876 5-FT". It has 38 stars with 4 rows of 7 and 2 rows of 5. The stars are not sewn onto the flag, but stamped with dye like the stripes are. The four parts of the flag appear to be machine sewn together (the star section, short stripe section, long stripe section, and the strip that holds the brass rings).

    It is very old looking and fragile and I would like to frame it if it is not too expensive. I measured it and it looks to have stretched over the years to a few inches bigger both length & width-wise, so about 3'2" * 5'4".

    I read a number of posts and looks to be a pretty involved process. I live in Mass. if any of you might know folks who do this kind of work I would like to preserve it in a frame to hang on our wall.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks
    Petesza
     
  2. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Your flag was made using the press-dyeing process patented in 1870 (refined in 1876.) The United States Bunting Company of Lowell, Massachusetts owned the patent rights to the 1870 process. Civil War General Benjamin Butler was a principal of the USBunting Co. He was also a congressman from Massachusetts and got Congress to pass a law favoring flags of US-made bunting - and guess which company was the first to produce wool bunting in the US? Yep, his company. Prior to that bunting was imported from England.

    That was one of the smallest size flags they made using press dyeing.


    Check out the American Textile History Museum in Lowell. www.athm.org
    They have a Conservation Center that may be able to give you some info. However, I suspect that a full conservation project on your flag would cost way more than the retail value of a 38-star flag.

    Nick
    ps: sorry I didn't post earlier but the web site was messed up and lost my replies.
     
  3. Petesza

    Petesza New Member

    Thanks Nava1974!

    Really good information!

    Cool, that makes good sense given where I live (MA).

    I did some looking around over the past few weeks and while I did not find any specifics did find a number of references to the fact that it is very expensive. So I started looking at a few sites where they had do-it-yourself projects and there were a few but looked like you needed to be a retired cabinet maker to do a decent job.

    We have the perfect spot in our house to hang this flag, big wall that does not get direct sunlight. I get the sense that just hanging it will not be good and now wondering if there is a way to display it without costing an arm&leg and at the same time not ultimately ruining the flag....

    Maybe I should just keep it in the closet where it has been for so many years :D

    Thanks again Nick for your reply!

    Pete
     
  4. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    "We have the perfect spot in our house to hang this flag, big wall that does not get direct sunlight. I get the sense that just hanging it will not be good and now wondering if there is a way to display it without costing an arm&leg and at the same time not ultimately ruining the flag...."

    What you can do to both display the flag and minimize the stress on it is to stich the flag to a background of unbleached cotton muslin (you may need to sew two widths of fabric together if the flag is too wide for one width.) Be sure to stretch the muslin out and lay the flag on it - unstreched. Once it is stitched to the muslin the musiln will take the weight of the flag. How long will that last? Well, Amelia Fowler did the same thing to the Star Spangled Banner back in 1914 and that lasted 85 years at the Smithsonian! Ms. Fowler used Irish linen for the backing but you can get unbleached muslin (non acidic, and no nasty chemicals to damage your flag) at nearly any half-decent fabric shop. Leave enough of the muslin at the heading so that you can sew a sleeve in it and hang the flag on a curtain rod.
    Nick Artimovich
     
  5. Petesza

    Petesza New Member

    Thanks so much Nick! Your insight and knowledge have really helped and I truly appreciate your input :)

    Pete
     

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