Image on porcelain of Commodore Stephen Decatur.

Sub-collection: Decatur Collection of Military & Naval Service - Spanning 100 years

Image on porcelain of Commodore Stephen Decatur.
Commodore Stephen Decatur (1814-1876) was a 19th century American naval officer whose career spanned the years 1829 to 1876. Decatur was born in 1814 in Newark, New Jersey. He was appointed a midshipman in 1829. Prior to 1845, the establishment of the U.S. Naval Academy midshipman in the U.S. Navy was dependant on the officers of the ships or shore establishments to which they were assigned for instruction in the naval sciences. Midshipman Decatur was assigned successively to the frigate USS Constellation home-ported in Baltimore; the U.S. Navy Yard Portsmouth, Kittery, Maine; the USS Vincennes of the Brazilian Squadron until he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1841.

Lieutenant Decatur was assigned to the sloop USS Warren, but in 1842 he took a leave of absence because of problems with his eyesight. In 1848 he married Anna Rowell Philbrick, the woman who would preserve the great bulk of his flags for posterity.

He returned to naval duty in 1851 when he was posted to the sloop USS Saratoga, of the East Indies squadron, where he served until 1854. In 1855 he was transferred to the USS New York, home-ported at the Navy Yard New York. At the outbreak of the American Civil War Decatur was promoted to Commander, the rank he held throughout the war until his promotion to captain in 1867.

Captain Stephen Decatur was promoted to the grade of Commodore in 1869, and served in that capacity until his passing in 1876. It was during this period when Commodore Decatur sat for the Boston photographer J.L. McCormick to have this image taken.

During the 19th century, advances in metallic emulsion (silver halide), was patented in France in 1854 by Leron de Macarson, and enabled photographic reproductions on a variety of surfaces, such as this porcelain ceramic image of Stephen Decatur.

Decatur bore the namesake of his uncle, Commodore Stephen Decatur, Jr. (1779-1820), one of the most memorable figures in American Naval history because of his successes in the Quasi War with France, the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812.

Provenance: Acquired at auction, 2-Day Winter Antiques & Fine Art Auction, 4-5 February 2010, James D. Julia, Fairfield, ME.

ZFC Significant Flag


2-Day Winter Antiques & Fine Art Auction, Artfact, 1 June 2012, from: http://www.artfact.com/auction-catalog/2-day-winter-antiques-fine-art-auction,-day-2-kbmiwmy646

Smith, David, A Million-Dollar Map At Julia's Americana, Antiques and the Arts Online, 1 June 2012, from: http://antiquesandthearts.com/Antiques/AuctionWatch/2010-03-02__14-22-30.html

Stephen Decatur, Wikipedia, 1 June 2012, from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Decatur_(1815%E2%80%931876)

Parsons, William Decatur, LLB, The Decatur Genealogy, Printed for Private Distribution by Stephen Decatur, New York, 1921, Marblehead 2003.

Lawrence, Les, VIEWPOINT CERAMICS: THE PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGE, International Museum of Print and Clay, 1 June 2012, from: http://www.printandclay.net/printandclay/viewpointtext.htm

Image Credits:
Zaricor Flag Collection

Hoist & Fly

Width of Hoist 3.675
Length of Fly 5


Is it framed? no


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


Has a Blood Stripe? no


Nation Represented United States


Fabric Ceramic
Comments on Fabric Ceramic Tile


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 cracked, broken and repaired.
Displayable yes


Date 1869