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Determining the Age of a Flag

Last modified: 2013-12-23 by rob raeside
Keywords: age of a flag |
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How old is this flag?

This is a very deep subject, one I have studied for many, many years. See also: http://www.vexman.net/antique.htm

As for books, there are not many. The best is probably Grace Cooper's "13-Star Flags: Keys to Identification" published by the Smithsonian back in 1974 (I think it was). Grace went into very minute detail about fabrics and thread and techniques used at various times for US Flags. Probably much of this material applies to Canadian and European flags as well.

The cheap hand-wavers prior to about 1940 were made of glazed cotton and printed, by silk screen at that time and by the press- or clamp-dying method c.1850 to 1900 or so. Dates for this stuff are pretty hard to pin down. I have many US Patents for the equipment for making these. From the 14th century (and probably earlier) nautical flags were made of wool bunting. This didn't change much until the Second World War brought us the invention of Nylon and Rayon as flag fabrics. Polyester bunting came into use about the late 1970s or so. Cotton bunting came into common use following the American Civil War although there are some older flags that used this material. Cotton bunting is not heavy at all, it is usually pretty light in weight or (for more decorative items) medium in weight.
Dave Martucci, 13 March 2013
 
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