SOLD! for $5,800.00.
(Note: Prices realized include a buyer's premium.)
- Low Estimate: $6,500.00
- High Estimate: $8,500.00
- Realized: $5,800.00
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16 star American national flag. Double ply bunting, hand sewn with a cotton or linen canvas hoist, 3 whipped eyelet grommets. 16 single-appliqued cotton muslin stars. Exhibited Cheekwood Museum of Art, “Nashville collects, circa 1990. Provenance: Estate of A. Welling LaGrone, Jr., Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee was the 16th state admitted to the Union on June 1, 1796 and the flag of the United States was altered with their star not long afterwards. While this flag bears 16 stars, it does not date from the late 1700s. Rather, this is most likely an example of a 16 star Boat Flag for the U.S. Navy. Boat flags were issued to warships to be flown on the smaller launches of the vessels, officially called gigs. They were the smallest of the flags issued to warships, and, as with the larger banners, the sizes varied with the rating and class of the warship. The U.S. Navy regulations, by 1863, allowed for fourteen classes of ships and flags with the lowest five classes (ten through fourteen) being boat flags. According to flag historians Howard Madaus and Whitney Smith, 16 star boat flags existed between 1857 and 1861. Between 1798 and 1856, Navy boat flags carried the same number of stars as there were states in the Union. By 1855, the sheer number of stars on the flag of the time (31) being placed in the cantons of such small flags made them very difficult to discern from a distance. Indeed, when Commodore Perry sailed to Japan in 1853, his boat flag bore 31 stars. Beginning in 1857, the Navy yard in Charlestown, Massachusetts, designed a boat flag with only 16 stars and it is presumed that the other Navy yards followed suit. This design was short-lived, however, for in 1862, the U.S. Navy altered their boat flags to 13 stars, representing the original Continental Navy flags of the Revolutionary War era. While some of the surviving 16 star boat flags bear the markings of the Navy yard that made them, this flag bears no such markings. This suggests that it was privately made but that cannot be confirmed. The stars in the blue canton, made of cotton muslin, are single-appliquéd in four rows of four stars per row with the stars being varied on their axis adding to its folk art quality. This arrangement matches the design of the 16 star boat flag made by the Navy yard in Charlestown that is held in a private collection (which measures 38 inches on the hoist by 71 inches on the fly). The flag is made of double ply bunting that was hand sewn with a cotton or linen canvas hoist edge featuring the three whipped eyelets. This method of attachment matches the Charlestown flag. The flag was featured in an article on the Legrone Collection in Art & Antiques magazine in January 1999, which listed the flag as “commemorating Tennessee’s admission to the Union” (1796). However, everything about the flag shows a mid-19th Century manufacture that is consistent with other flags of the era. The flag was not examined out of frame. The flag measures 40 inches on the hoist by 57 inches on the fly. The flag is floated on a linen mat in a later black/giltwood frame which measures 48 inches by 63 inches. Catalog entry by Greg Biggs. Condition: Tattered edges, losses to right corners, large hole lower left, scattered insect damage and staining, expected fading/discoloration.