Obverse - 2

Obverse - 2

Reverse - 1

Reverse - 1

Obverse - 3

Obverse - 3

Reverse - 3

Reverse - 3


U.S. "The Living Flag" Photo - Mole & Thomas.

Sub-collection: Flag Related Printed Materials

"The Living Flag", U.S. Naval Training Station Postcard, Great Lakes, IL, 1917.
This postcard depicts "The Living Flag", one of a series of patriotic and panoramic "Living Photographs" designed and shot by Thomas Mole and John D. Thomas. "The Living Flag" was shot at the US Naval Training station at Great Lakes, Illinois. The image of the flag was formed by thousands of officers, ratings, and recruits. The stunning stars and stripes effect was created not by distinctive red, white, and blue apparel, as the colorized post card depicts, but rather by simply alternating the white summer and blue winter uniforms of the subjects.

Mole and Thomas began creating and selling these unique photographs during World War I, and this one was done after the US joined the Allies in the war. Mole and Thomas' images have gained significant recognition and are even considered by some to be photographic folk art. Their photographs usually posed thousands of soldiers and sailors in such a way to portray a variety of different US insignia and icons. Shot from a tower and utilizing forced perspective these monumental photographs often took days to prepare and rehearse.
While thier photographs were very popular and widely sold as prints, posters, and postcards, Mole & Thomas did not sell them for commercial purposes but rather donated all the proceeds from their living photographs to charities who helped discharged service personnel.
This postcard's copyright was retained by the US Naval Training Station and is currently unused due to its having never been franked.

Provenance: Acquired through purchase 2004 at Mr. Goodie's Antiques, Santa Cruz, CA.

ZFC Significant Flag


The Living photographs of Arthur Mole and John D. Thomas, 21 October 2008, 6 October 2011, from:

History, CNIC // Naval Station Great Lakes, 6 October 2011, from: http://cnic.navy.mil/GreatLakes/AboutUs/History/index.htm

Living Flag Great Lakes Naval Station 2010, You Tube, 6 October 2011, from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbi-tfQS2Mo

Image Credits:
Zaricor Flag Collection

Hoist & Fly

Width of Hoist 3.375
Length of Fly 5.5


Is it framed? no


Are there stars on obverse? no
Are there stars on reverse? no


Has a Blood Stripe? no


Description of Crest/Emblem Living Flag Post Card


Nation Represented United States


All original documents and drawings are held in the Zaricor Flag Collection Archives.
All original documents and drawings are held in the Zaricor Flag Collection Archives.


Condition Good
Damage Unfrank, worn, fixed
Displayable yes


Date 1917