U.S. 35 Star Jack & Presidential Signal, 1863-1865

Sub-collection: U.S. Naval

Rare 35 Star U.S. Jack & Presidential Signal, 1863 -1865.
This is a rare, hand sewn, wool, 35 star United States Jack, upon whose hoist is marked, 'American Jack'. Jacks bearing 35 stars were current from 4 July 1863 to 4 July 1865 and are extremely rare, despite the fact that the US Navy expanded greatly during the American Civil War, leading to a large increase in the manufacture of yard-made naval flags, ensigns, jacks, commission pennants, signal and designating flags.

The markings on this jack are very similar to and consistent with comparable markings found on flags fabricated at the US Navy Yard in Charleston, MA, near Boston. Such documented flags bear markings Boat Ensign and American Ensign and are known to have been made between 1857 and 1861.

Additionally, this jack is finished with two 7/8th inch brass grommets which were introduced as a finishing feature on flags during the American Civil War. Thus, the combination of construction, finishing and marking details make it highly likely that this is a yard-made 35 star United States Jack.

The jack of the United States is a special usage maritime flag representing United States nationality and generally flown on the jackstaff in the bow of vessels. However, in the 19th century the jack could be displayed at various locations on the ship as a special signal, such as at the mainmast to signify that the President of the United States was aboard or at the foremast to call for a pilot.

Between 1864 and 1865 President Abraham Lincoln was often aboard ships traveling between Washington Navy US positions in Virginia Fortress Monroe, Harrison's Landing and other coastland areas to confer with senior US generals. During these journeys his presence aboard ships was indicated by this special Presidential Signal of hoisting a jack like this to the main mast.

Finally, another use for the jack in this period would have been to place it in the bow of a small boat to indicate that the chief of a U.S. diplomatic mission is officially embarked in the waters of the country to which he was accredited, or when a governor general or governor commissioned by the President is embarked within the waters of the territory of which he or she is in charge.

Final details of the flag that are of note include the additional space on the fly end of the jack which would allow for both additional stars and for potentially necessary hemming repairs.

ZFC Significant Flag

• Sold via Cowan's Auction, Cincinnati, Ohio, to the Zaricor Flag Collection, 2009.


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

Preble, George Henry, The History of the Flag of the United States of America, Boston, Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1894.

National Colors: Ensign, Jack, and Commission Pennant, Sea Flags, 14 November 2011, from: http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeohzt4/Seaflags/ensign/Ensign.html

Jack of the United States, Wikipedia, 14 November 2011, from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_of_the_United_States

Union Flag, Wikipedia, 14 November 2011, from:

Image Credits:
Zaricor Flag Collection

Hoist & Fly

Width of Hoist 36
Length of Fly 52.5


Comments on Star Measurements 7-7-7-7-7 horizontal rows


Size of Hoist 1.5


Is it framed? no


Number of Stars 35
How are the stars embeded? Sewn
Are there stars on obverse? yes
Are there stars on reverse? yes
Star Pattern 7-7-7-7-7 horizontal rows


Has a Blood Stripe? no


Description of Crest/Emblem US 1863-1865 Jack


Nation Represented United States


Fabric Wool
Comments on Fabric Bunting


Stitching Hand


Type of Weave Plain


Comments on Method of Attachmen Two grommets
Method of Attachment Headings & Grommets


Applique Sides Single Faced = Mirror Image Reverse


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 Flag is used, worn and has small tears.
Displayable yes


Date 1863-1865