Last month the museum mounted a 13-star American flag in the west stairwell of Founders Hall. Flags with thirteen stars were authorized from June 14, 1777 to May 1, 1795. Ida Fuller, of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, donated this flag to American Legion Auxiliary Unit 18 in 1938. Many believed it was an original colonial era standard associated with the type carried by the 3rd Maryland Regiment during the American Revolutionary War. However, when examined at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History over a decade ago, textile historians concluded that the materials, sewing methods, and arrangement of stars confirmed it was made sometime between 1820 and 1850. To ensure its preservation and public exhibition, the American Legion Unit donated the flag to the Naval War College Museum in 2008.
| Typical loss and thinning of weave found |
in fifty-six places throughout the flag
The following year, the museum requested examination and treatment proposals from local conservators. The 102 x 54” flag is made entirely of wool except for muslin stars stitched to the canton by reverse applique. Its use over the years led to a moderate amount of loss, numerous small tears, and several large stains. Last fall, ArtCare Resources of Newport cleaned the flag and stabilized fifty-six areas of loss with replacement polyester yarns and silk thread. The entire flag was stitched to a crepeline backing to provide more support.
Gift of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 18, Portsmouth, RI Ac. No. 2009.31.01
Images courtesy of the Naval War College Museum