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48 Stars on an Antique American Flag Designed and Commissioned by Wayne Whipple
48 stars on an antique American Flag designed and commissioned by Wayne Whipple, 1911-1912, a rare and highly desired, silk example Many people are not aware that for the first 135 years of the existence of the American national flag, there was no official way to configure its stars. In 1912, that circumstance changed with an Executive Order of President William Howard Taft. Many designs were submitted, but only one today remains common knowledge among most flag enthusiasts. A Philadelphian by the name of Wayne Whipple was one person among the interested artists and the only one who would who would proceed to solidify his name in history, designing and sub-contracting for the manufacture of his own flags, to be made in what would become known as the “Whipple” pattern. These he distributed liberally in pursuit of his goal, taking them to rallies and mailing them to influential parties with many letters of solicitation. Today surviving examples are very rare and desired by collectors. The star configuration that Whipple devised included 13 stars in the center, to reflect the original 13 original colonies, arranged in a six-pointed Great Star like the Shield of David (Star of David). According to Whipple, this was the most logical way to display 13 stars in a star-shaped formation. The same arrangement is present on the Great Seal of the United States, which can be most readily viewed on the back of the one dollar bill. Surrounding the Great Star was a wreath of 25 stars to represent those states that had joined the Union through the year of our nation’s 100-year anniversary in 1876. In the outermost wreath are 10 stars for those territories that gained statehood afterward, including the final two that were ushered in under the Taft administration in 1912. Whipple’s concept was that more stars could be easily added to this widely spaced outer wreath without changing the basic design, so that the pattern was not only beautiful, but also functional for a growing nation with a flag that changed as it grew. Whipple pattern parade flags exist in both cotton and silk. The cotton variety may have been made in 2 different sizes. Only two Whipple pattern flags have thus far been discovered with pieced-and-sewn construction, one of which was presented to President Taft by Whipple in 1913, then returned to Whipple and descended through the Whipple family. According to personal letters that were written by Whipple, along with correspondence between Whipple, the White House, and the War Department, Presidents Roosevelt and Taft both approved of and endorsed Whipple’s design. Whipple befriended both men, yet campaigned with Roosevelt in 1912. When it came to the final selection of an official configuration, the War Department’s recommendations drove Taft to select the rectilinear pattern of 6 rows of 8 stars. This is an example of Whipple’s silk variety, which was slightly larger than his largest cotton parade flags, having larger stars and bolder in color. Based upon their keen similarity to other silk parade flag of identifiable origin, Whipple’s silk flags were probably produced by the Cheney Silk company of Manchester, Connecticut. Mounting: The flag was mounted and framed within our own conservation department, which is led by expert trained staff. We take great care in the mounting and preservation of flags and have framed thousands of examples. The background is 100% cotton twill, black in color. The mount was placed in a gilded French molding with a traditional American profile, to which a ripple profile molding, black with gold highlights, was added as a cap. The glazing is U.V. protective plexiglass. Condition: There are a number of extremely tiny, pinprick-sized holes. The overall condition is extraordinary.
- Place of Origin
- Date of Manufacture1911-1912
- Condition DetailsSee Item Description
- DimensionsH 25.5 in. x W 35 in. x D 2 in.H 64.77 cm x W 88.9 cm x D 5.08 cm
- Seller LocationYork County, PA
- Seller Reference Number48j-1020
- Reference NumberLU849713531922
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Located in York County, PA
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