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Antique American Flags

A website dedicated to the history, restoration, preservation and collecting of antique American flags.

Flag News:

16-Star, 16-stripe Stonington Flag Sent to URI for Evaluation and Conservation
The historic Stonington flag, a very rare 16 star, 16 stripe example and possibly the only period 16 star flag in existence, has been on display for many years in the Ocean Bank building in Stonington, Connecticut. The flag has been handed over to Dr. Margaret T. Ordoñez at the University of Rhode Island Textile Conservation Laboratory, pending assessment and restoration. Ordoñez will supervise the project.

Jeff Bridgman, a dealer in antique American flags, explains the scarcity of the Stonington flag. “Some 16 star flags exist, but all of the ones I have heard about or have encountered are unusually small in size and were likely flown from the stern on some American ships in the mid 19th century. The seem to date to the Civil War or just prior, circa 1845-1865. Experts don’t know exactly why such a design was used, but we do see it in both early prints and paintings. We also see 15 star examples made in the same period and probably with the same purpose. I sold one of these to a private collector in Washington State a couple of years ago. With it was an early commissioning pennant, made in the same manner with the same materials.

This supports the theory behind nautical use of flags with 15 star and 16 star counts. I also sold a 16 star, 13 stripe flag to a Tennessee collector [Tennessee was the 16th state]. All but one of the early 15 star and 16 star flags I have examined, or heard about from collectors, have 13 stripes instead of 15 or 16 stripes, with one exception. This is a 15-star, 15-stripe flag, small in size, that also dates to the mid 19th century. The documented history of the Stongington flag and its 16-star, 16-stripe design suggest that it may well be period to the 16 star era (1796 – 1803), and thus may be the only one of its kind in existence. While the 16 star count was never official, that would not have kept people from making such a flag. Thousands of 39 star and 42 star parade flags exist, for example, and they were never official star counts.”

Read more on the Stonington flag at