Presented is an original 13-star Coast Guard commissioning pennant flag with blue stars set against a white canton. The pennant features alternating red and white stripes and a forked fly end, all stitched together using an iconic zig-zag stitch.
This long pennant flag served as a U.S. Coast Guard commissioning pennant for an active vessel under commission. The pennant would be hoisted on the masthead and fly both day and night, unless temporarily replaced by a command pennant. Unlike the Naval commissioning pennant, the Coast Guard’s has thirteen blue stars against a white canton. The red and white alternating stripes are vertical and finish with a forked fly end. The U.S. Coast Guard originally used this design in the years before the Civil War. Sometime afterwards it changed to more closely resemble the Naval commissioning pennant with white stars on a blue canton and two horizontal stripes, however, beginning in 1938 the design changed yet again to revive the original design as shown here.
Beginning in the early 1890s, flags started to use zig-zag stitching. On February 23, 1892, Mr. Henry Bowman, an African American, was awarded patent #473,653, Device for Making Flags, in which he patented the use of zig-zag stitching specifically for sewing stars onto American flags. As Bowman’s patent describes, the approach was to sew the white fabric blanks to each side of the canton, using zig-zag stitching, and to then cut away the blanks and leave the stars. Although this was not the most efficient use of raw materials, the method was a significant improvement in speed versus cutting stars separately. The rough edges of the stars were more secure with the zig-zag stitching, making it the perfect sewing technique for flags on boats.
Overall good condition, with dark red coloring. Blue stars set against a white field, with some darkening to white color. Framed according to the highest conservation standards in a custom frame.
Framed Dimensions: 14 1/4" H x 42 1/4" W x 1 1/8" D
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