Finding Vintage / antique flags

Red, White and Blue

Red, White and Blue

I don't know when it happened that I fell in love with American flags but it happened. I obviously love navy blue and definitely love stripes so it's no surprise that I love to incorporate vintage flags in design.

More interesting is that the actual history of the American flag goes beyond how many stars are on it and which states were incorporated.  There are many flags from individual state flags, Navy flags, Indian flags and flags for specific regions of the country. We all know that Betsy Ross hand stitched an American flag in 1776 but did you know that in 1775 American ships in New England flew a flag called the Liberty Tree Flag which showed a green pine tree in the center of a white background? I saw one for the first time last summer at an antique show and had never seen one before.

As states were incorporated the pattern of the stars would change and would not be as symmetrical as they are now with 50 states. For instance, a thirteen star flag would have five columns with a 3-2-3-2-3 patter of stars. 

I have a small collection of American flags that I find everywhere. I find many at estate sales that are perfectly folded in a triangle because a family member was in the service. Antique shows have them in abundance - cotton stitched vintage flags, newer nylon flags or cotton with a flag pattern printed on it (these are usually the smaller flags that everyone waves on the fourth of July.)

Although, Ralph Lauren has used Americana in their styling forever, you don't need a big budget to get the look.  Share your American flag designs with me on instagram (@waterandmain)

If you're interested in reading more facts on flags here is a great resource

Tracy Foley
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