Book Photo

Book Photo

Obverse - 2

Obverse - 2


U.S. 13 Stars flag - Privateer Minerva.

Sub-collection: Mastai - Early American Flags

13 Star US Flag, Privateer Ensign, Revolutionary War Period.
This flag belonged to Revolutionary Privateer Minerva and it is believed to be the only named ensign to have survived, it became part of the acclaimed collection of noted antique dealer Mr. Boleslaw Mastai and his wife Marie-Louise d'Otrange Mastai, formerly of New York City, and later Amagansett, Long Island. Their collection was the result of fifty years of collecting, research and study by the late husband-wife team. Mastai, started collecting in the mid 20th century and amassed to greatest private flag collection in the United States; which he detailed in his ground breaking 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 was hailed as a revelation of the American Flag as art and as social history.

According to Mastai this was an early Stars & Stripes from the famed Revolutionary War privateer Minerva . When the 13 United Colonies declared their Independence, the infant Continental Navy had few ships, and would only commission a meager 31 ships. To augment their small fleet Letters of Marque were issued to private armed merchant vessels. Commissioned as privateers, they were to prey on enemy merchant vessels.

On July 1781, the merchantman Hannah, flying the British flag, was captured. It was sailed to New London, CT as a privateer's prize of the Connecticut ship Minerva , under the command of Captain Dudley Saltonstall. She was the largest maritime prize captured during the Revolutionary War. Her manifest was West India goods and munitions. But perhaps most galling was her additional cargo of personal supplies and baggage for the British officers stationed in New York City. The value was estimated at 80,000 pounds sterling.

Dudly Saltonstall (1738-1796) was a Boston captain, merchant, and privateersman in the French and Indian War. As a Captain of the Continental Navy during Revolutionary War he was given command of the Alfred, Commodore Esek Hopkins' flagship which successfully attacked New Providence in the Bahamas for munitions. In 1779 he was made Commodore of the Penobscot Expedition, which ended in a disaster for which he was blamed and dismissed from the Navy. He then turned profitably to privateering.

The capture of the Hannah spurred the British to punish New London for its success at privateering it was ruthlessly attacked by troops lead by the traitor Benedict Arnold, who had been born only a few miles away, in Norwich, CT and was eager for a command to demonstrate his recently rediscovered allegiance to King George III.

After the Revolutionary War this flag passed to a shipmate and friend of Saltonstalls, Captain John Spear who preserved it.

Exhibition History:

First Presidio Exhibit

Second Presidio Exhibit
Gallery One Copy 2003

Private Showing
Night of Flags
In celebration of George Washington's Birthday
The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in California
Patriotic Services Committee
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Octagon House, San Francisco
5:30 pm 7:30 pm

Publication History:
The Stars and The Stripes; The American Flag from Birth of the Republic to the Present, published by Alfred Knopf, New York 1973

• Flown on the Privateer Minerva
• Gifted to Captain John Spear by Captain Dudley Saltonstall, 1781
• Acquired by Boleslaw Mastai of NYC.
• Exhibited in 1973 at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth Texas, and in 1978 at Building 6, World Trade Center, New York City.
• Part of the Mastai Collection until 2002
• Acquired by ZFC at auction from the Mastai Estate via Sotheby's in NYC, 2002.


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

Goody, Rabbit, ZFC0707 Analysis Notes, examination and research for Ben Zaricor, April 2009, Zaricor Flag Collection Archives

The Burning of New London, The Battle of Groton Heights & The Burning of New London, September 6, 1781, 24 October 2011, from:

Brodrick, Sean, August 21, 2009 The Stormy Seas of Liberty, Uncommon Wisdom Daily, 24 October 2011, from:

Dudley Saltonstall, Wikipedia, 24 October 2011, from:

Dudley Saltonstall, Penobscot Bay History Online, 24 October 2011, from:

Image Credits:
Zaricor Flag Collection

Hoist & Fly

Width of Hoist 47
Length of Fly 84





Is it framed? yes


Number of Stars 13
How are the stars embeded? Single Applique
Are there stars on obverse? yes
Are there stars on reverse? yes
Comments on Stars Single Applique, larger star on the "Obverse"
Star Pattern 4-5-4 horizontal rows


Number of Stripes 13
Color of Top Stripe Red
Color of Bottom Stripe Red
Has a Blood Stripe? no


Nation Represented United States


Fabric Wool
Comments on Fabric Bunting


Stitching Hand


Type of Thread Combination of Threads
Thread Material Cotton
Comments on Thread Material Multiple Threads
Field Thread Hand Spun


Type of Weave Plain


Comments on Method of Attachmen Hand sewn
Eyelet or grommett through header
Method of Attachment Whip-stitched


Applique Sides Single Faced = Mirror Image Reverse



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

Public Copy & Signs
All original documents and drawings are held in the Zaricor Flag Collection Archives.


Condition Good
Damage Used, worn. repaired and patched.
Displayable yes


Date 1782


Publication Images




Frontispeice detail

Frontispeice detail

Frontispeice detail 2

Frontispeice detail 2

Page 66

Page 66

Page 67

Page 67

Flag Books
The Stars and The Stripes - Mastai

The Stars and The Stripes - Mastai