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An Unusual Revolutionary War Flag


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#1 daniel griffin

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 03:04 PM

This flag came from the Webb family in central Pennsylvania, it was purchased at an estate auction for very little money by a very sharp general-line antique dealer who offered it to me within 24 hours  of its discovery.  It is white linen with polished cotton stars and stripes, partial blue wool fringe. The inked motto speaks for itself. Please excuse the glare in the photo.

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#2 Leatherneck72

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 03:08 PM

What makes it Rev War?



#3 Red Devil

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 04:02 PM

That is an amazing item!



#4 heftaa01

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 04:23 PM

The stars look a lot like "Moravian Stars", wonder if there is any connection there?



#5 Patchcollector

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Posted 05 December 2013 - 09:33 PM

Very cool item.I like the "stars" and the motto.It reminds me of some folk art I've seen.



#6 vintageproductions

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 12:20 PM

Killer piece



#7 Will

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 12:59 PM

I told Dan that this was merely the family flag of "The Webb Family Singers", who escaped from Austria before the Revolutionary War and found musical freedom here in their new country. I therfore offered him $50 for the flag. Amazingly, he declined. :D



#8 Jack's Son

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 01:15 PM

It would be fun to research.

#9 gwb123

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 07:22 PM

Do you think this was original to the Revolution, or a commmorative item made for later celebrations?

 

The stars do look like some of the quilting or hex signs that you see in Pennsylvania Dutch country. It will be great to get the full story on this one.



#10 KurtA

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 07:34 PM

Do you think this was original to the Revolution, or a commmorative item made for later celebrations?

 

 

 

To me, the word "soon" implies Freedom hasn't happened yet, so it probably wasn't made after the fact. And, I would think a later commerative item would have more of a recognizable US flag appearance.  The wording, the 13 stars, and just the overall "look"  makes a strong case for it being Rev War era.

Quite a find! 



#11 sundance

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Posted 07 December 2013 - 03:59 AM

It's amazing how precise that lettering is. One beautiful item.  



#12 cefiler

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 05:45 PM

Very nice.  Unusual for a color(s) to be made out of linen.



#13 gwb123

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 07:00 PM

 

 

To me, the word "soon" implies Freedom hasn't happened yet, so it probably wasn't made after the fact. 

 

 

 

Good catch.  I see it now and I agree with you.



#14 manayunkman

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 07:26 PM

Amazing and Revolutionary finds you have had as of late.

 

According to the book if the voices don't cry the rocks will.



#15 Bob Hudson

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 08:53 PM

The flag is not from the Revolution. The phrase on it is from an 1834 poem "Independence" by abolitionist/writer/editor/poet Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, best known as the author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and  as the individual most responsible for making Thanksgiving a national holiday.

 

The future tense expressed by the word "shall" refers to a freedom yet to come for AmerIca's slaves. 

 

She was also the editor of the most prominent women's magazine of that era, one that established many of the fashions of the day.  She had quite a wide range of interests and influence: http://en.wikipedia....ah_Josepha_Hale



#16 Bob Hudson

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 09:14 PM

It would probably be called an abolitionist or anti-slavery flag, maybe from the 1840's or so. It seems as though as it got closer to the Civil War, anti-slavery flags were more apt to look like the normal red, white and blue American flag, except they only had 20 stars, denoting the non-slave states.

 

Here it is with some other examples, all with slogans and one with a similar heavily stylised take on the American flag.

 

abflags.jpg



#17 Bob Hudson

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 09:24 PM

By the way, the one with "NO UNION WITH SLAVERY" was on the History Detectives  and sold in  November 2005 at Cowan's Auctions for $46,000.

 

I think the one featured in this thread is also probably worth what the experts call "a bundle." I would imagine a textile expert could help narrow down the date. 

 

As for the question about "Moravian stars," well they didn't start using those until the 1830's in Germany - later in the US -  and the Moravian Church itself was not anti-slavery then.



#18 Patchcollector

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 10:14 PM

Interesting.Thinking it may be from a song,I initially had "Googled" the phrase,but had come up with nothing.Good detective work.



#19 ludwigh1980

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 10:27 PM

Fascinating and well beyond my collecting knowledge. Great piece of American history anyhow.



#20 KASTAUFFER

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 10:38 PM

This is from a book of songs printed in 1852

 

 

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#21 KASTAUFFER

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 10:42 PM

and Hale's poem

 

 

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#22 Patchcollector

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 11:15 PM

Yes still an amazing artifact!As hot a collectible as the anti slavery stuff is,it may turn out that the flag is worth more now than had it been a Revolutionary war piece!



#23 KurtA

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 04:20 AM

Some excellent research here!  The evidence posted does strongly suggest it being an anti-slavery flag. Interesting that 13 stars were used rather than going with the number of stars corresponding to the number of states in the Union at the time this flag was made.  With a single star surrounded by 12 others,  perhaps this is meant to indicate the flag was from a state that was one of the "Original 13".  Being that this flag came out of Pennsylvania and that the state colors of Pennyslvania are blue and gold, that's the state I think that center star (and this flag) designates.



#24 Bob Hudson

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 06:19 AM

Some excellent research here!  The evidence posted does strongly suggest it being an anti-slavery flag. Interesting that 13 stars were used rather than going with the number of stars corresponding to the number of states in the Union at the time this flag was made.  With a single star surrounded by 12 others,  perhaps this is meant to indicate the flag was from a state that was one of the "Original 13".  Being that this flag came out of Pennsylvania and that the state colors of Pennyslvania are blue and gold, that's the state I think that center star (and this flag) designates.

 

I discovered this morning that from 1837 to 1845 there were 13 free states and 13 slave states, so this has a star for each free state. As noted above, it was common for anti-slavery flags to show stars only for the free states. The numbers changed in 1846, so we can date this flag to before then.



#25 Patchcollector

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Posted 20 December 2013 - 06:26 AM

Wow,that is pre Civil War by a long shot.Early anti slavery stuff must be very hard to find.Thanks for all the great info that you found.




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