Star Spangled Banner Flag House & Museum, 2004

Exhibit of American Maritime Flags of the 19th Century

Click for a Slideshow of the Exhibited Flags

Baltimore, March 22, 2004:The American Flag: Ships and coastal installations (both governmental and private) require flags that can be identified from great distances. Recognition was achieved during the nineteenth century by providing these vessels and facilities with flags that were especially large. 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 if the flag is attached to a staff meant to be carried by single individual. Until 1854 in the British Army, and until 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-essentially a flag with an area encompassing slightly more than four square yards of cloth-were deemed the maximum size for transport by an individual on a staff. Most of the flags in this 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.

To the right is an image of a young mother holding a toddler while explaining ZFC0696, a very large 26 star Grand Luminary flag.

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.

The Flag Center was formed following the popular success of its highly acclaimed exhibition, The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict, in 2003 at The Presidio of San Francisco. That exhibit featured over 120 original, historic American flags from the last 200 years of the country's history.

Baltimore Flag Exhibit Labels

Click on the page below to view the complete flag labels.