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ZFC0620

U.S. Revenue Marine Ensign 1874.

Sub-collection: Mastai - Early American Flags

13 Star U.S Revenue Marine Ensign & Custom House Flag 1871.
The Act of March 2, 1799, known as the Customs Administration Act authorized that "the cutters and boats employed in the service of the revenue shall be distinguished from other vessels by an ensign and pendant, with such marks thereon as shall be prescribed and directed by the President of the United States."

Oliver Wolcott, Alexander Hamilton's successor as Secretary of the Treasury in 1795, was given the honor of conceiving a new ensign. On June 1, 1799, Wolcott presented his design to President John Adams for approval. Wolcott's concept was an ensign of sixteen vertical stripes, alternating red and white, corresponding to the number of states comprising the Union by 1799. Wolcott was following the stipulations of Congress, which, in 1794, had already modified the national flag to fifteen stars on fifteen stripes, providing for an amendment to the design at the entry of each new state. Wolcott increased the stripes to sixteen, and altered their display to be perpendicular to the horizontal lines of the U.S. Flag.

This new flag was ultimately implemented August 1, 1799, when Secretary of the Treasury, Oliver Wolcott, issued an order announcing that in pursuance of authority from the President, the distinguishing ensign and pennant would consist of, "16 perpendicular stripes, alternate red and white, the union of the ensign to be the arms of the United States in a dark blue on a white field."

Although Secretary Wolcott created a service-wide design it was the responsibility of each collector of customs to make local arrangements for the furnishing revenue cutter ensigns and though conceived as a maritime ensign for revenue cutters and customs vessels, the customs officials began flying it over their customhouses. Because of the locally produced variants there would be no standardization in the manufacture and issue of this flag until the American Civil War.

During the Civil War, the Treasury Department began standardizing Revenue Marine ensigns. In 1874, Treasury Secretary William A. Richardson stipulated that during business hours, the customs ensign would be flown alongside the Stars and Stripes at all customhouses. This particular flag is thought to date from the same period.

Acquired from Sotheby's Auction in New York City on October 10, 2002. Mastai Lot No. 97. 2 pieces. Sleeved for horizontal display.

Exhibition History:

First Presidio Exhibit
(ZFC0620)
United States Revenue Service Ensign

Special Memorial Day Display
Suspended from ceiling of Moraga Room.
Presidio of San Francisco Officers Club
Memorial Day 2003

Baltimore Star Spangled Banner Flag House 3/2004
(ZFC0620)
U.S. Revenue Cutter Service Ensign

Publication History:
Madaus, Howard M., Dr, Whitney Smith, The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict. Santa Cruz: VZ Publications, 2006, p. 31.

Provenance:
• 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

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.

Preble, George Henry, The History of the Flag of the United States of America, Boston, Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1894.
Saba, Anne, January 2000, Tradition, Service, Honor - The Customs Ensign, Customs Today, 1 November 2011, from:
http://www.cbp.gov/custoday/jan2000/tradtn.htm

Flag Day: CBP's Ensign Was America's First For Government Agency, 1 November 2011, http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/highlights/flag_day.xml

United States Customs Service. Wikipedia, 1 November 2011, from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Customs_Service

Flags, Logos, Pennants, Seals & Streamers Of the Coast Guard & Its Predecessor Services, United states Coast Guard, 1 November 2011, from:
http://www.uscg.mil/history/articles/Coast_Guard_Flags.asp

Image Credits:



Hoist & Fly

Width of Hoist 80
Length of Fly 145

Stars

Comments on Star Measurements Arranged 4-5-4 in an arc above the eagle

Frame

Is it framed? no

Stars

Number of Stars 13
How are the stars embeded? Sewn
Are there stars on obverse? yes
Are there stars on reverse? yes

Stripes

Number of Stripes 16
Color of Top Stripe Red
Color of Bottom Stripe White
Has a Blood Stripe? no
Comments on Stripes Stripes are vertical.

Crest/Emblem

Description of Crest/Emblem In canton the Coat of Arms of the Uniteds States in blue.

Nationality

Nation Represented United States

Fabric

Fabric Wool
Comments on Fabric Bunting

Stitching

Stitching Machine
Comments on Stitching Straight Stitch

Weave

Type of Weave Plain

Attachment

Comments on Method of Attachmen Roped Header
Method of Attachment Roped-header

Applica

Applique Sides Single Faced = Mirror Image Reverse

Documentation

Research Documents


Public Copy & Signs











Condition

Condition Good
Damage Flag is used, worn and faded
Displayable yes

Date

Date 1870-1880

Exhibit PDFs
Special Moraga Room Memorial Day Exhibit, 2003

Exhibits

Exhibition Copy First Presidio Exhibit
(ZFC0620)
UNITED STATES REVENUE SERVICE ENSIGN
Date: About 1870-1880
Media: Bunting stripes and canton, cotton stars and coat-of-arms; hand sewn.
Comment: On March 1st, 1799, Congress required cutters and boats employed in the service of the revenue for the United States Treasury Department to fly a distinctive ensign and pennant. On August 1st of that year, the Secretary of the Treasury defined those flags: "The ensign and pendant consists of sixteen perpendicular stripes alternate red and white, the union of the ensign bearing the arms of the United States in dark blue on a white field." Until 1915, this distinctive flag identified those U.S. Customs and Revenue Service. After 1915, the same flag, but with the Coast Guard's coat of arms on the stripes was flown by the Revenue Service's successor, The US Coast Guard. When the Revenue Service flags were adopted, sixteen states comprised the Union (Tennessee having been admitted in January of 1796.) Although Ohio became the seventeenth state in 1803, no change was made in the Revenue Service flags. Nevertheless, the utilization of sixteen stripes reflects the pervading concept that the number of stripes be increased with every addition of a new state. The Indian Department, then a branch of the War Department, also adopted a distinctive flag with the coat-of-arms of the U.S. in its canton. Visiting Indian delegations, which received such flags in 1804/1805 bore seventeen stripes, and their cantons showed seventeen stars surrounding the U.S. coat-of-arms.
Provenance: Acquired by the Zaricor Flag Collection (ZFC0620) in 2002 from the Mastai Flag Collection of New York City through auction at Sotheby's.

Special Memorial Day Display
Suspended from ceiling of Moraga Room.
Presidio of San Francisco Officers Club
Memorial Day 2003
13-Star, 16-Stripe United States Revenue Cutter Ensign
Date: About 1870 1880
Comment: On 1 August 1799 the Secretary of the Treasury authorized a special variant of the U.S. flag for use by the ships of the U.S. Revenue Service, which was charged with collecting customs duties and preventing smuggling. To distinguish Revenue Cutter Service flags from those of the U.S. Navy, the flag adopted had reversed colors in the canton (which bore the U.S. coat of arms) and 16 vertical, rather than horizontal stripes. At the time of its creation, 16 states formed the Union, Tennessee having been admitted as the sixteenth state on 1 June 1796. Incidentally, the Stars and Stripes itself never had 16 stripes. (ZFC0620)

Baltimore Star Spangled Banner Flag House 3/2004
(ZFC0620)
U.S. Revenue Cutter Service Ensign
Date: 1870-1880
Media: Wool bunting field and canton with cotton appliquéd stars and eagle, all hand sewn. Size: 80" on the hoist by 144" on the fly (6.75' by 12')
Comment: On March 2nd 1799, the United States Congress authorized the U.S. Treasury Department to acquire ships for the purpose of patrolling the U.S. coastline in an effort to enforce its tariffs and prevent smuggling. The United States Revenue Cutter Service was thus a predecessor to the US Coast Guard. To distinguish the ships owned by the Treasury Department from those under construction for the revitalized Navy Department, the Treasury Department, on August 1, 1799, created a distinctive flag for its own ships. The president signed in the act of the 2nd of March, 1799, which stipulated sixteen perpendicular stripes, alternating red and white with the union bearing the arms of the United States in dark blue on a white field.
At the time of this flags creation, sixteen states formed the Union, Tennessee having been admitted in 1798. In 1915, the flag was modified by the addition of the Coast Guard insignia on its stripes for service as the ensign of the newly formed agency. The old design, however, continues in use as the flag designating U.S. Customs at ports of entry.
Provenance: Acquired in 2002 by the Zaricor Flag Collection from the Mastai Collection through auction at Sotheby's of New York, New York.

American Maritime Flags of the 19th Century
Ships and coastal installations (both governmental and private) require flags that can be identified from great distances and in inclement weather. Recognition was achieved during the nineteenth century by providing these vessels and facilities with unusually large flags. Exhibited here are several American flags related to such vessels or facilities from the period 1818 to 1893. They are all large bunting flags.
Generally speaking, a large flag is one that is too unwieldy to be carried by one person with a one-man staff. Until 1854 in the British Army, and 1895 in the American Army, military colors carried by units on foot were made of silk and measured no more than 6 feet on the staff by 6 feet 6 inches on the fly. Those dimensions required slightly more than four square yards of cloth and were considered the maximum size for transport by an individual on a staff. Most of the flags in this particular exhibit exceed those parameters.
Due to their size, large flags such as these are difficult to display and are seldom sought by collectors. Museums often relegate them to perpetual storage. This exhibit is unusual, therefore, in that it displays so many of these flags in one place. This exhibit is sponsored by the Veninga-Zaricor family and Good Earth Teas, Santa Cruz, CA; The Flag Center, Presidio of San Francisco, CA; and the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, Baltimore, MD.
PDF for Publications
Cover
Fronticepiece
ZFC0620

Publications

Publication Copy Madaus, Howard M., Dr, Whitney Smith, The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict. Santa Cruz: VZ Publications, 2006, p. 31.

United States Revenue Cutter Service Ensign
On March 2nd, 1799, Congress authorized cutters and boats employed in the service of the revenue for the United States Treasury Department to fly a distinctive ensign and masthead pennant. On August 1st of that year, the Secretary of the Treasury defined those flags: "The ensign and pendant consists of sixteen perpendicular stripes alternate red and white, the union of the ensign bearing the arms of the United States in dark blue on a white field." Until 1915, flags of this type identified vessels of the US Customs and Revenue Service. After 1915 the same flag included the addition of the Coast Guard insignia on the stripes, the service which succeeded the Customs and Revenue Service. Customs today continues to use a modernized version of this flag.

When the Revenue Cutter Service flags were first adopted, sixteen states comprised the Union. Although Ohio became the seventeenth state in 1803, no change was made in the Revenue Service flags. Nevertheless, the utilization of sixteen stripes reflects the pervading concept that the number of stripes be increased with every addition of a new state. The Indian Department, a branch of the War Department, also adopted a distinctive flag with the coat of arms of the U.S. in its canton.

Druckman, Nancy, Jeffery Kohn, The American Flag: Designs for a Young Nation, New York, Abrams, 2003.P.63.