17 Star US Flag - Hubbard Family, 1803-1812, former Mastai Collection.
Flags bearing 17 stars and 13 stripes were never an official flag of the United States; however numerous surviving examples confirm both their existence and use. This example was made to indicate the admission of Ohio as the 17th state on March 1, 1803; and would remain accurate until the admission of Louisiana on April 30, 1812; a period of 9 years, 1 month and 27 days later.

As previously mentioned, Ohio achieved statehood on March 1st, 1803 and thereby became the seventeenth state in the Union; the fifteen-star, fifteen-stripe U.S. flag adopted in 1794 was officially the national flag of the nation until 1818. It is known, however, that the United States Indian Department ordered seventeen-star, seventeen-stripe flags in the period 1804-1805 and later. Privately made flags from the same era also tended to reflect the consensus that all of the states be represented in the U.S. flag. This flag, bearing sixteen smaller stars in an oval around and central star (presumably representing Ohio) would seem to conform to that concept. Thirteen-star flags, also dating to the Mid-Federal Period, are also known to survive with this same basic star pattern.

This 17 star flag's early history is speculative; but it eventually became a part of the acclaimed collection of noted New York City antique dealer Mr. Boleslaw Mastai and his wife Marie-Louise d'Otrange Mastai. Their collection was the result of fifty (50) years of collection, research and study by the late husband-wife team. Mastai, started his collection in the early 20th century and amassed to greatest private flag collection in the United States which he personally detailed in his landmark book The Stars and The Stripes; The American Flag from Birth of the Republic to the Present, published by Alfred Knopf, New York 1973, and hailed as a revelation of the American Flag as art and as social history.

The materials and construction of this flag are consistent with others from the 17 star flag period. The most prominent flag of this group is the legitimate 17 star flag currently in possession of the Ashville Area Heritage Society, of Ashville, Ohio. This flag, called the Transitional Flag by the society, has identical star pattern 16 stars in a single ring with a center star.

Exhibition History:

First Presidio Exhibit
Seventeen-Star, Thirteen-Stripe, United States Flag
Date: Mid-Federal Period (1803-1812)

Second Presidio Exhibit, 2003 - Gallery II
Seventeen-Star, Thirteen-Stripe, United States Flag
Date: Mid-Federal Period (1803-1812)

Private Showing
11 November 2008
Tiger 21 Meeting, Muir Room
Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco, CA


Publication History:
Madaus, Howard M., Dr, Whitney Smith, The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict. Santa Cruz: VZ Publications, 2006, p. 36.


Provenance:
• Nehemiah Hubbard & family, Middletown, CT & Hubbard, Ohio, 1803-1812.
• Acquired by Mr. & Mrs. Boleslaw & Marie-Louise d'Otrange Mastai, New York City, and Amagansett, NY, The Mastai Collection, until 2002.
• Sold via Sotheby's Auction in New York City to the Zaricor Flag Collection, 2002.


ZFC Significant Flag
Item is Framed

Sources:



Madaus, Howard M.- Whitney Smith, The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict, VZ Publications, Santa Cruz, 2006.

Mastai, Boleslaw and Marie-Louise D'Otrange, The Stars and The Stripes: The American Flag as Art and as History from the Birth of the republic to the Present, Knopf, New York, 1973.

Mastai, Boleslaw and Marie-Louise D'Otrange, The Stripes and Stars: The Evolution of the American Flag, Amon Carter Museum, Ft. Worth, 1973.

Mastai, Boleslaw and Marie-Louise D'Otrange, Our Unknown Flag: Almost 250 Flags and Artifacts from the famous Mastai Collection, New York, Boleslaw Mastai, Amagansett, Exhibited 14 June -28 July 1978US Customhouse, Plaza Lever, 6 World trade Center.

National 17 Star Transitional Flag, Ashville Area Heritage Society, 25 October 2011, from: http://ohiosmalltownmuseum.org/index.htm
17 Star Flag -unofficial- (U.S.), Flags of the World, 25 October 2011, from: http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/us-17.html

Image Credits:
Zaricor Flag Collection