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Flag Firsts:

The first official flag of the U.S. was established by Congress on June 14, 1777. Many conflicting claims have been made for the first displays of this flag. The following is a list of first displays most commonly accepted for the flag established by Congress.

On a ship at sea---November 1, 1777. The Ranger, commanded by John Paul Jones, sailing from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

In combat at sea---November 1777. En route to Nantes, the Ranger, under John Paul Jones, captured 2 brigantines and sent them into ports as prizes.

Around the world---September 30, 1787. Carried by the Columbia, which sailed from Boston to the Pacific Northwest via a circumference of the globe, August 10, 1790.

Over a schoolhouse---May 1812. At Colrain, Massachusetts.

On the moon---July 20, 1969. Planted in the Mare Tranquillitatis by Apollo 11 astronauts

Antique American Flags

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



Stonington Historical Society, Stonington, Connecticut

Summary & Highlights: The Stonington Historical Society is the caretaker of what may very well be the only 16-star, 16-stripe flag that has survived these 200 years. While the flag is currently out for assessment and restoration, it is the Society's goal to have the flag visible as near as possible to the site of the 1814 Battle of Stonington after its completion. Earmark the Stonington Historical Society web site and this web site for further updates.

District of Columbia

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.

Summary and/or Highlights:
Home of the Star Spangled Banner and its famous restoration process, as well as many other of our nation’s most valued historic treasures. Click here to visit the Star Spangled Banner project web site:


The Flag House, the Star Spangled Banner Museum, and the War of 1812 Museum, Baltimore, Maryland

Summary & Highlights: This is the former home of Mary Young Pickersgill, maker of the Star Spangled Banner. Pickersgill lived here from 1807 until her death in 1857. It is second oldest house museum in Baltimore, built in 1793, and is furnished with objects belonging to Mary Pickersgill and her family, as well as to Francis Scott Key. These include furniture, quilts and other textiles, silver, accessories, and paintings, among which is a Charles Willson Peale portrait of Benjamin Flower, Mary Pickersgill’s maternal uncle. Early documents include the original receipt Mary Pickersgill received for sewing the Star-Spangled Banner. The War of 1812 museum has other treasured holdings.

Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Maryland

Summary and/or Highlights:
This is where the Star Spangled Banner was flying in 1814 when Francis Scott Key wrote his famous song that both gave the flag its name and became our national anthem. The fort was an active military facility until the 20th century. It was placed under the administration of the National Park Service in 1933. Of all the sites within the National Park System, Fort McHenry is the only one designated a National Monument and Historic Shrine.
How to get there:


The National Heritage Museum, Lexington, Massachusetts

Summary & Highlights: The National Heritage Museum is an American history museum founded and supported by 32° Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America. Here you will find Here you will find one of the best holdings of early fraternal organization material and an extensive library that is available for public use. You will also find one of only two period 15-star, 15 stripe flags known to exist and on public display. The other is the Star Spangled Banner, which can be viewed at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History.
At least one expert claims that there is another period, 15-star, 15-stripe flag that exists in a private collection. If true, that would bring the total to three known examples that date to the 1796-1818 era.

New York

Fraunces Tavern Museum, New York City (S. Manhattan, Financial District)

Summary & Highlights: In colonial times, Fraunces Tavern served as a hub of revolutionary activity. It was one of the primary, pre-war meeting places of the Sons of Liberty. At the war’s end, this is where Washington gave his farewell address to his officers. Situated in the very heart New York’s financial district, the museum offers a fantastic collection of Washington-related items. Fraunces Tavern Museum also houses more than 200 Revolutionary War era flags collected by the Color Guard of the Sons of the Revolution. Most of the flags are reproductions, based on careful research of manuscripts. A few of the flags are originals, having survived for centuries. The restaurant offers formal dining from a colonial menu.
Antique American flag dealer, Jeff Bridgman, will give a lecture on flags at the museum on June 29th, 2004 at 12:00 noon. Call the museum for details at (212) 425-1778


The Betsy Ross House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Summary & Highlights
: This circa 1740 Philadelphia row house, a charming example of early Philadelphia architecture, has been restored to about the year 1777, when Betsy Ross is said to have created the first flag. While no official records exist to support this claim, Betsy Ross did make flags for the U.S. government during the Colonial period and her part in our history has been engrained in American culture. Betsy’s descendents made flags for tourists in the West Wing of Independence Hall in Philadelphia at the turn-of-the-century, and her family will always be remembered as an integral part of American history with regard to our nation’s most cherished symbol. The Besty Ross House is the city’s 3rd-most visited historic site.
While the Betsy Ross House web site is under construction, visit

The Easton Area Public Library, Easton, Pennsylvania

Summary & Highlights: The Easton Area Public Library is home to one of our Nation’s most well-known 13 star American flags, a Colonial design which was reportedly raised during the reading of the Declaration of Independence by the County Clerk in the Easton town square on July 8th, 1776. Visit the Easton Area Public Library’s web site for more information on the history of the Easton flag.

Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, York County, Pennsylvania

Summary & Highlights: If you are looking to actually buy a great antique American flag, there is no better place than from antique dealer Jeff Bridgman, a dedicated expert who always seems to have the most extensive inventory of early examples. While Jeff does not have an open shop, he is sometimes available by appointment. The best place to see what he has to offer, however, is on his website,, where about 100 antique American flags are commonly offered for sale. You can also see Jeff in person at one of the 40 antique shows where he exhibits each year, located throughout the Northeastern United States plus Tennesse, Texas, and Michigan. For a list of upcoming events, check his calendar: . Jeff also provides a conservation and framing service for flags and other early textiles.


The Bennington Museum, Bennington Vermont

Summary & Highlights: The Bennington Museum is home to one of our Nation’s most well-known 13 star American flags. While there has been some disagreement about the age and use of the Bennington flag, there is no doubt that it has become one of the most recognized historical designs, replicated countless times in the 20th century to commemorate American Independence. Visit the Bennington Museum web site for the most up-to-date information regarding the history, dating, and restoration of the Bennington flag.