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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Forty Historic 13-Star Flags Exhibit at Museum of the American Revolution

Forty Historic 13-Star Flags Exhibit at Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia
This Flag Day, 40 rare, historic 13-star flags will go on display at the Museum of the American Revolution, marking the first time that this collection has been displayed together. Most of the flags have never been exhibited before. The exhibit, “A New Constellation: A Collection of Historic 13-Star Flags,” will be on view from Flag Day, Friday, June 14 through Sunday, July 14, 2019.

* Photographs are courtesy of Museum of the American Revolution.

Because there was no official star pattern for the American national flag until 1912, the design was left up to the artistic liberties of the maker. The flags in this exhibit feature 32 different arrangements of 13 stars, representing the 13 colonies that declared independence from Great Britain during the Revolutionary War. The 13-star flag became the official flag of the new nation on June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, from which the name of this exhibit is derived.

“I am thrilled that these treasures will be seen by visitors from around the world at the Museum of the American Revolution this summer,” said Jeff Bridgman, a leading dealer in antique American flags and political textiles, who is loaning the flags to the Museum. “I truly believe that there is no substitute for the experience of standing in the presence of these remarkable pieces of American history. As far as I know, no one has ever done an exhibit of this kind with just 13-star examples. Their impressive scale and texture are extraordinary, and it will be simply incredible to view them all together in one room.”
Forty Historic 13-Star Flags Exhibit at Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia

Among the highlights, said Bridgman, is one of the earliest known 13-star flags in America, which arranges the 13 stars to form a large single star. Also displayed will be a large flag (5ft. 9in. by 12ft. 4in.) ca. 1830s-1850s, found in Gloucester, Mass., which features 13 stars in a configuration possibly arranged to crudely form the letters “U” and “S.” The exhibit also features three flags that include eagles as well as stars, one of which was made by venerable flag-maker Sarah McFadden, who is sometimes dubbed “the Betsy Ross of New York.”

The exhibit will be on view in the Museum’s first-floor Patriots Gallery from June 14 – July 14, 2019 and will be included with regular Museum admission. Tickets to the Museum can be purchased by calling 215.253.6731 or at

In an adjacent activity space in Patriots Gallery, visitors of all ages can try on Revolutionary-inspired clothing, handle replica objects, and participate in activities like designing their own flag and other crafts.
Forty Historic 13-Star Flags Exhibit at Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia

Throughout the run of the exhibit, each visitor to the Museum will receive a miniature version of the Commander-in-Chief’s Standard, the flag that marked George Washington’s presence on the battlefield, to take home. The Standard, which is in the Museum’s collection, is believed to be the earliest surviving 13-star American flag.

During Flag Day Weekend, Friday, June 14 – Sunday, June 16, guests can add a stitch to a reproduction of a Revolutionary flag and try cutting a six-pointed star like the ones on Washington’s Standard. They also can participate in a flag-themed scavenger hunt in the Museum’s galleries.

In the Museum’s core exhibition, visitors can see two rare Revolutionary-era flags that are on display. The Monmouth Flag descended in a Pennsylvania family and is one of the oldest surviving flags from the American Revolution, dating to 1775-6. The Forster Flag may be one of the earliest American flags to have been altered after the Declaration of Independence; it is clear that the British Union was removed from it and the white fabric has been reworked to create stripes.

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