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June 14, 2013

Happy Flag Day!  Did you know that at the signing
of the Declaration of Independence the Continental
Congress adopted a temporary official flag of the United States, referred to as 'the Continental Colors" (left)?  Ironically, it kind of looks a little British.

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution which adopted a permanent official flag.  It was the perfect symbol of the new country: 13 stripes, alternating red and white, representing the 13 new states; and 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

Surprisingly, the Flag Act did not specify the exact configuration of the stars.  For the next 135 years a variety of flags were created showing the stars in circular patterns or staggered in random order.  In 1912 President Taft signed an executive order stating that American flags should have 5-point stars arranged in horizontal lines.

Although folklore credits Betsy Ross with creating the first American flag, history shows that Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, designed the first official flag for the new republic.  The design of the flag has been modified 26 times since 1777 to reflect the addition of new states.

Jeff Bridgman is the world's largest dealer of antique American flags.  His vast
inventory of authentic flags is impressive and a fascinating pictorial story of the
history of the United States.  

Created during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War,
the flag, above, celebrates the statehood of Mississippi, c.1876.

The 28-star antique flag, above, is extremely rare
because it not only commemorates the statehood
of Texas, it was the U.S. official flag for only
one year, from 1845 to 1846.

According to Steve Winters, owner of Historical Americana, antique American flags from the pre-1800s can bring over $60,000.  But, as in all fields of collecting, "buyer beware" is advised in determining the authenticity of vintage flags.

This 35-star Civil War period flag sold for $55,000 in 2010.

Still relatively common, flags from the late 19th Century can be
purchased for under $500 but are usually printed, not hand stitched.

As you're contemplating the fascinating history of our country's flag,
remember - an American flag has been planted on the moon for 44 years.

Have a great weekend as you celebrate the great Dads in your life!


  1. How interesting! I like the way the flag has almost become a piece of social history. Jx

  2. A most interesting and appropriate post for this Flag Day! Thank you, and enjoy your Friday!

  3. I did not know that our first flag looked so much like the British flag. I knew about the second flag from 1777 from history class. I think that this is amazing to see how our flag has changed throughout the history of our country. Thank you for such an informational post.

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