13-Star WWI U.S. Navy Ensign, 1907

Presented is a very large and rare 13-star Naval Ensign, dating to 1907. The navy blue canton has 13 double-appliqued white cotton stars arranged in a 3-2-3-2-3 configuration. The design is completed with 13 cotton stripes, alternating in red and white. The white hoist has five metal grommets and is stenciled, "US Ensign No. 6 Navy Yard New York July 1907 7927" on the back.

The 3-2-3-2-3 pattern, which looks like a diamond of stars surrounded by four corner stars, is sometimes referred to as the Francis Hopkinson Pattern. Francis Hopkinson's submission of designs to the Continental Congress, which included the design of the first Great Seal and a representation of the American Flag, included the 3-2-3-2-3 pattern of stars. The pattern was a derived variation on the Scottish white saltire and the Russian navy flag. For his design, Hopkinson asked to be paid in "a Quarter Cask of public wine" and later asked to be paid $1,440 in Continental paper. Congress, however, refused both payments. Congress agreed that Hopkinson had a role in the design, but refused to pay him because he "consulted" other men. The 3-2-3-2-3 pattern is one of the most popular variations of 13-star configurations.

The original use of the 13-star flag dates to June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress adopted a resolution that created the first official United States flag. The resolution stated, “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be made of 13 stripes, alternate red and white, that the union be 13 stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.” 13-star flags were official from 1777-1795, but were still used long after that.

13-star flags had a large resurgence in popularity during the late 1800s. In the lead up to the nation’s Centennial in 1876, flag makers and individuals looked to the past for designs to produce as part of the country’s celebration. Popular interpretation of the stars and stripes undoubtedly reached its climax in variety and originality at the time of the first Centennial.

13-star flags were also commonly produced for use on U.S. Navy ships up until 1916. During the late 18th and into the 19th century, the flag's appearance was constantly changing as a by-product of the nation’s western expansion and the addition of new stars to the flag’s canton. The U.S. Navy enjoyed the privilege of placing only 13-stars rather than the full complement of the day.  This practice was discontinued by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, with a mandate that stated all flags were designed to represent the actual number of states in the Union, with specific guidelines outlining the position of stars in the canton.


Very good condition. Two-sided cotton construction, with 13 double-appliqued stars on the blue background. The hoist is folded over and sewn with metal grommets and stenciled “US Ensign No. 6 Navy Yard New York July 1907 7927” along the back. Flag is moderately worn, with several scattered small holes and stains due to past use on a boat. But overall, the flag is still very attractive and color is vibrant. Flag measures: 42”H x 82”W. 

Flag has been artfully framed to the highest archival standards. The flag is mounted and folded along the fly to reduce overall framed size, with acid-free mats and backing, silk mounting, UV Plexiglas, and a custom-built wooden frame. 

Framed Dimensions are: 51 1/2" H x 74 1/8" W x 3 3/4" D.

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