48 STAR U.S. NAVY JACK, MADE AT MARE ISLAND, CALIFORNIA, HEADQUARTERS OF THE PACIFIC FLEET, DURING WWII, DATED 1941 United States Navy jack with 48 stars, made during WWII (U.S. involvement 1941-45) at Mare Island, California, Headquarters of the Pacific Fleet. A black stencil along the hoist on the reverse side reads as follows: "Union Jack No 9 Mare Island April 1941." Located on the western edge of the City of Vallejo, about 23 miles northeast of San Francisco, Mare Island (actually a peninsula) served as a principal seat of U.S. Navy defense, beginning in the mid-19th century. The site was originally chosen following an expedition that set forth in 1850, when Commodore John Drake Sloat was ordered to lead a survey party in quest of a logical site for the nation's first Pacific naval installation. Sloat recommended the island across the Napa River from the settlement of Vallejo; it being "free from ocean gales and from floods and freshets." On November 6th of that year, two months after California was admitted to statehood, President Fillmore reserved Mare Island for government use. The U.S. Navy Department acted favorably on Commodore Sloat's recommendations and Mare Island was purchased in July, 1852, for the sum of $83,410 for the use as a naval shipyard. Two years later, on September 16th of 1854, Mare Island became the first permanent U.S. naval installation on the West Coast, with Commodore David G. Farragut serving as Mare Island's first base commander. The base became home to what was known as the Pacific Fleet, and remained so until the threat of Japanese expansionism caused the shift to a more advanced position at Pearl Harbor. It was very active in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, but would eventually close in 1993 after Congress approved the findings of the Base Realignment and Closure Report. Like the British Royal Navy, American vessels flew three flags. When at anchor or moored, the jack is flown at the bow (front), the national flag or "ensign" is flown at the stern (back), and the commission pennant is flown from the main mast. When under way, the Jack is furled and the ensign may be kept in place or shifted to a gaff if the ship is so equipped. The American Navy jack is a blue flag with a field of white stars. The design is the mirror image of the canton of an American national flag. In scale, the jack was meant to be the same size as the canton of the corresponding Stars & Stripes ensign with which it was flown. This particular example is made of wool bunting that has been bound with machine stitching. The stars are made of cotton and are double-appliquéd (applied to both sides) with a zigzag machine stitch. There is a heavy canvas binding along the hoist with four brass grommets. While the technical name for this type of flag was a "union jack," the confusing verbiage, being the same as the nickname of the most recognizable British flag, has resulted in a common shortening of the term to simply "the jack". Interestingly enough, the British Union Jack is not the proper name for that signal either. The design commonly called the "Union Jack" is actually the "Union Flag," though practically no one uses or is even familiar with the term. The only time that it can be properly called the "Union Jack" is when it is, in fact, flown as the jack on a British Navy ship. Because the British fly various national flags: the white ensign (Royal Navy), blue ensign (non-navy ships in public service), and red ensign (merchant ships), each of which is composed of a wide field the corresponding color, with the Union Flag design as its canton, the use of the Union Flag as the jack on Royal Navy ships employs the same logic as using the blue field with stars, without the red and white striped field, as the American jack. The 48 star flag became official in 1912 following the addition of New Mexico and Arizona. 48 remained the official star count throughout WWI (U.S. involvement 1917-18), WWII, and the Korean War (1950-53), until Alaska gained statehood in 1959 and the 49th star was added. Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to a background of 100% hemp fabric. The mount was then placed in a black-painted, hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Condition: The flag has many losses within the blue wool bunting. Period fabric of the same basic kind was placed behind it during the mounting process for masking purposes. There is modest oxidation and soiling of the white cotton. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. Frame Size (H x L): 37.5" x 47.25" Flag Size (H x L): 25.5" x 35.25" About Jeff R. Bridgman Antiques, Inc.: As an advisor to top museums and collectors alike, Jeff Bridgman is the world's leading expert and source for antique American flags and political textiles. In this field there are many fakes, forgeries, and misrepresented items, and there is no substitute for experience. As the nation's leading buyer and seller, Jeff R, Bridgman Antiques, Inc. has handled more material than anyone in the field. He has also operated a textile conservation business for 18 years, where expert staff have conservation mounted, framed and restored thousands of examples, more than anyone world-wide.
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