Where is the oldest authentic 13-star and stripes flag?

Discussion in 'American Flag History' started by NAVA1974, May 5, 2009.

  1. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    The point that some of us are trying to make is that family records prove nothing about the flag. In 1870 George Canby wove a wonderful story about his grandmother, Betsy Ross, but historians have noted numerous flaws in the story of her connection with the first flag of Stars and Stripes. Canby only proved that his family made flags. The connections with Washington and a "flag committee" and making of the first flag were just conjecture. We know a great deal about Betsy and her family, but that information does not prove her connection with the first American flag.

    By documentation about the age of the flag we mean a 1780's or 90's newspaper article, a reference in a book of the period, a bequest in a will that obviously describes the same artifact. Something from the period that connects the flag to that period. Or physical examination of the flag itself to determine when the cloth, the dyes, the sewing threads, were made. (Even then, you could hand-make all those components today from natural sources and create a very convincing replica of a period flag. The famous Civil War surplus dealer Bannerman took war surplus American Flags and created Confederate First National Flags using a dozen or so stars and a few stripes - all the materials were "period" the the resulting product was a fake.)

    A document stating that the flag was made by an ancestor but written generations later "based on family history" is not adequate documentation. Historian John Spargo was convinced in 1928 that the Bennington Flag was present at that Revoutionary War battle in 1777. A late 20th century forensics analyisis showd the flag's fabric to be woven on a power loom - a contraption invented in the 19th century.

    One of the stories on these 13 star flags mentions a hand-written date from the 1790's on the flag, if I recall correctly. If a forensic analysis showed that the inscription and the flag were of 18th C vintage, I could belive the story.

    And yes, this is an extremely high burden of proof. I am trying to find a 13-star and 13-stripe American flag that would be guilty, beyond a shadow of a doubt, of exising prior to May 1795.

    I am still looking.

  2. Captgio

    Captgio New Member

    Hey Nick,

    The entire Ames, Eames branches of New England could never had anything to do with knowing anything about the East India Company or its flags flags!

    Following the example of his gallant commander, Capt. Ames asserted. that "state affairs were not his provence, and. that it was his business to do his duty to his country, whatever irregularities there might be in the counsels at home." He commanded. the ship which brought Charles II. to England., and which was thence-forth called the Happy Return. He descended from Lancolot Ames of Norwich. whose son, John, died in 1647, aged 70, the latter being the father of Capt. Ames, instead of John Ames, an officer in the Trained Bands, as mentioned in vol. ii., p.p. 118, 401, the latter being probably the captain's elder brother.
    See a letter from Ames the antiquary to Blomfield. the historian, published in the appendix to the Foundacion and Antiquitye of Greate Yermouthe, p. 120. His daughter, Mary, married Capt. Edward Dampier, Deputy-Surveyor of Shipping to the Honorable East India Company. The name of Ames was and is to be found in many of the villages of Norfolk. In a chapel on the south side of Barton Church is a quaint epitaph to the memory of Thomas Amys, commencing. with
  3. Captgio

    Captgio New Member

    Nick and Peter,

    Let me give you some advice, if you had 10 authentic period stars and stripes flags fully documented, the histories combined will never teach you the truth to everything about freedom and origins to the Flag, Church, Goverment and Royal families.

    In order for you to better yourself in learning the history, start with the English Civil War history and the church. You may see the light.

  4. Vexman

    Vexman New Member

    Re: "The entire Ames, Eames branches of New England could never had anything to do with knowing anything about the East India Company or its flags flags!"

    Actually anyone with access to a well-used seaport would have known about the East India Company and its flag as it was always clearly emblazoned on those many flag charts of the day, any number of which could be seen in any number of seaports at any time in the 18th or 19th centuries. To make the above statement true you would have to be able to prove conclusively that no one from these families ever went to any seaport any where in the world, which seems pretty unlikely.
  5. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    They would tell us much. They would tell us under what situations they were considered worthy of preservation, and what the flags meant to their owners and/or observers. Conversely, their absence tells me a lot. Flags were considered so utilitarian and disposable that no one thought to "put one aside." Flags were just signals, some signifying nationality, some used to transmit specific tactical messages.

    Compare flags to coins, furniture, books, any number of items that have been preserved from the late 18th century. Yes many are scarce and valuable, but they were thought worthy of preserving. They have the distinct advantage that they are considered durable goods, and can be used over and over again, whereas flags wear out and replaced frequently, but one would expect that wornout 13-star flags would have carefully preserved if they carried the same power that the American Flag did beginning with the US Civil War.

    And my original question had very little to do with "Church, Goverment and Royal families." It had to do with flags as artifacts. There is already much written about flags and their meaning and I saw no need to discuss that issue.

  6. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    They would tell us under what situations they were considered worthy of preservation, and what the flags meant to their owners and/or observers.

    Reinforcing Nick's point, it's probably not an accident that there are many surviving US unit colors from the 18th century. Unlike national ensigns, these were considered to be worthy of preservation because they were part of the identity of their units. They also tended to be less exposed to the elements (they were cased when the unit was not in battle or on parade), and to be made of more durable materials.

    Peter Ansoff
  7. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hello, Everybody! :D

    I realize that I am somewhat under-educated in this matter, so please excuse me for asking the following question (or two...).

    Is it just me or is this most recent protracted discussion in this thread happen to be about a Flag that ONLY the owner(s) and his/her acquantances have seen and examined?

    I mean, if that is so, then why not have the Flag in question submitted to rigorous testing and examination by all of the appropriate "experts", scientists, and technicians? Then we can all go wherever the evidence takes us, if you know what I mean.....
    It's no skin off my nose. I'm just asking. :cool:

    Happy Holidays & GO DUCKS!!! :D

    Robin Hickman
    Eugene, Oregon, USA
  8. Captgio

    Captgio New Member


    The Flag in question HAS BEEN submitted to rigorous testing and examination by all of the appropriate "experts", scientists, and technicians? WHO not only study flags, but 18th century textiles and methods of construction.

    The problem is that the textile history is wrong based on Grace Coopers work which allowed "EXPERTS" to misidentify Authentic 18th century flags by the dozens in the last 60 odd years. The point is that a group of textile professors will in due time challenge the damge that Grace Cooper and her following had done.

    Imagine, being very correct on what I wrote above. All the historic flags that were 18th century and debunked as 19th century, all the persons who debunked the flags have to anwser to the damage they had done. Would not want to be in the shoes of these "SAID" experts getting paid as consultants to auction houses, MAJOR MUSEUMS? People who have to anwser for some of the greatest damage to our National Identity, to the people who owned these debunked relic flags that were authentic 18th century flags to begin with. MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, upon Millions of dollars for relics sold for chump change so these experts can pocket money for their expert advice that is incorrect. Imagine the years of work done by flag experts to only find out their work was wrong.

    Would you like me to list a dozen, NEW ENGLAND FLAGS debunked by specific experts? Flags of great importance to the Nation, debunked by famous Goverment PAID historians? Same people who get to write books on the tax payers dime, so we have to pay to read their work that we paid for in tax money, sending them where ever they want to go to collect, correct information that becomes incorrect and destructive to our Nations identity? How about the private sector who are experts, what would it do to their reputations as authorities? Maybe I should contact their clients, which I know of several and take the flags they bought as early 19th century, but are really 18th century? What would be worth to them to prove their flags 18th century?

    Best Regards and Happy New Year!

  9. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    I have no prejudice aginst the Ames flag or the Shaw flag and would be very happy to see both proven to be 18th C relics. However, the primary article that I can find on line for the Shaw flag

    ( The Day - Historic Flag Could Travel to Groton | News from southeastern Connecticut)

    and the one you quoted earlier in this string on the Ames flag just do not do that for me.

    In the article about the Shaw flag it states:

    "So why haven’t we taken our flag to the Smithsonian to be authenticated? Well, the Smithsonian, can’t really do that. They can examine the stitching, take samples of the material and perhaps rule out an 18th-century existence – for example they could identify a dye in the fabric which wasn’t available at the time. However, even if the materials proved to be authentic to the 18th century by scientific examination, it is the provenance of an object such as this, that is, the physical history of where the object came from, which can best provide authentification. The provenance of this flag is impeccable; however, we will admit that it is not unassailable."

    That isn't very convincing.

    What info do you have on the Ames flag itself? I think the textile examination report would be fascinating. Can a copy be made available to Forum members? I know that Grace Cooper's research was based on knowledge that is now more than 40 years old, but she was curator of textiles not curator of flags. She was a textile expert first. However, she would be the first to adopt new research findings regarding proven textile techniques, as she did when I told her about my 44-star US flag with stars sewn on by zig-zag stitching. In her book she stated that 45-star flags were the first to be made using that method, but was quick to accept new findings by myself and others.

    As far as flags being "debunked by experts" I know of the Bennington flag, Guilford Courthouse flag, and Maryland's Cowpens flag, to name just three. The Bennington flag could not be examined close enough, but Grace believed it was made from fabric woven on a power loom. Obviously that technolgy wasn't available until the early 19th C but a more careful examination could tell us more. The Cowpen's flag is identical in materials and manufacture to a very similar flag known to have been made in the 1840's.

  10. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hello, again, Captgio (Gary) ! :D

    I stand corrected. I was thinking that the Flag in question was the same Flag you talked to me about early this year or late last year. You were planning on presenting it for inspection and discussiion at a Flag convention of some kind (New England or NAVA or something).

    I apologize for my confusion.

    GO DUCKS !!! :D:eek::D

    Robin Hickman
    Eugene, Oregon, USA
  11. 1stSgt

    1stSgt New Member

    I am not 100% positive, but I believe it is in Annapolis Maryland in the State House, also first State House of The United States of America. I this helped you.... God Bless & God Bless the United States of America.
  12. AmericaHurrah

    AmericaHurrah Member

    Hi. I would echo what Nick just said. It is very possible that the New London flag is 18th century, although there is no proof just yet. One was just sold at Freeman's Auction that was claimed to be, but I viewed it in person and it was not. I would date it 1840 and told them so twice in writing, though they ignored the correspondence entirely. There was a stack of paperwork with it 1/2" thick, but none of it proved an 18th century date and when I viewed it in person it was clear to me that the fabric probably did not pre-date the mid-1830's. It's not what I have examined in flags made prior to that time that bear the full star count. I have owned hundreds of 13 star flags made between the 19th and early 20th centuries. Still, they can be challenging enough to date for someone who knows them, let alone an auction house that does not know them.

    Here is an article on known 13 star examples in both physical form and illustrations that is quite good. But note, like Nick said, that some of the ones that physically exist that are shown here may not be 18th century. They are, instead, candidates for such a date.

  13. AmericaHurrah

    AmericaHurrah Member

    p.s.: Grace Cooper from the Smithsonian disproved the 18th century date of the flag in Annapolis in the 1970's. It probably dates to the Mexican War era.

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