Presented is a vintage swag of patriotic bunting, dating to the early 20th century. The bunting is constructed in a pleated, quarter circle design, with two white headbands. The five stripes are machine sewn, in a double running stitch with white thread. The stripes are red, white, blue with printed white stars, white, and finally red. The blue stripe features two rows of fifteen five-pointed white stars. Two metal grommets are attached at each end of the top headband. Threaded through each grommet is a white fabric string, for display or hanging.
The use of bunting dates to the 17th century, when British naval forces developed the practice of stringing nautical flags along their vessels. Draped flags signaled to passing ships the allegiance of the vessel. Additionally, various flags and their specific methods of display acted as messages to be conveyed to other ships, without requiring verbal communication. The practice of hanging bunting soon became ingrained in the daily rituals of the British navy, so much so that the “bunting tosser” described the member of the ship charged with the responsibility of hoisting the flags.
The naval practice of bunting continued into the early days of colonization of North America, with bunting materials imported from England. After independence, several American companies emerged to manufacture and supply bunting materials, like cotton and wool and dyes. During the Civil War, flags and bunting were necessary to display allegiance to the Union. This inspired General Benjamin F. Butler, a Union Army major general and former governor of Massachusetts, to start the United States Bunting Company, founded in 1865.
After the strife and destruction of the Civil War, Americans took every opportunity to celebrate a post-war United States by displaying patriotic bunting. Bunting was used at state fairs, Fourth of July gatherings, political rallies, and town events. In addition to serving as spirited patriotic decor, one aspect that helped popularize bunting over time is its simplicity. Unlike the American flag, bunting does not adhere to the U.S. Flag Code, which allows for variation in its construction, design, and display and encourages individual creativity.
Good condition overall. Colors are vibrant, with toning to the whiteheadbands and the white printed stars. Bunting is machine sewn, with white thread. Stitches are secure. Scattered small stains throughout, from past use and display. Two headbands, one with two metal grommets. Small rust stains are present near each grommet.