Jan 31, 2014

The Forster Flag (USA)

The today's review is dedicated to a flag that will soon be auctioned: the Forster Flag, also known as Forster-Knight Flag, because of its original owner families.

Here's a reconstruction of the flag (a photograph of original flag can be seen here):

It's a crimson field, with six white stripes on left hoist on obverse, and seven on reverse. A difference piece of fabric on canton proves that the flag was made from a red ensign with Union Jack removed. Its overall state is very good to an American Revolution flag, and cord and tassels have survived!

The flag will be auctioned on Doyle New York on April 9th 2014, and its estimate value is between US$ 1,000,000 and 3,000,000. The value seems too high, but a list of facts about the flag, elaborated by vexillology legend Whitney Smith to Flag Bulletin #205 (3rd bimester/2002), can justify it:

  • It's the oldest known American flag i.e. the first flag intended to represent the country;
  • It's the oldest surviving flag to represent America with thirteen red and white stripes;
  • It was carried on the battles of Lexington and Concord, the firsts of Revolutionary War;
  • It's one of 30 surviving flags used by rebel troops during the war;
  • It's one of two surviving Revolutionary flags to replace a British symbol by an American one;
  • Among the 27 war colours on USA, it's the only one that's not owned by a public museum or institution, and its ownership history since Revolutionary days is well established;
  • It was never restored but is still in good state, including the original cord and tassels;
  • It appeared on a 1999 US Post stamp series in tribute to important flags of American history;
  • And much other reasons that can found on link above.

This flag was originally owned by Samuel Forster, lieutenant of Essex Regiment, and was preserved in his family until 1975, when it was acquired by the Flag Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization and has, since then, been the most valuable item of its collection. Its authenticity was proved many times.

If it's a so important flag, why is it in auction? Only a very good reason would justify it, and there is one: the money will be reverted in benefit to the collection of the own Whitney Smith's Flag Research Center unique and collection to be incorporated by the University of Texas at Austin, what will be very valuable to vexillology research around the world.

I certainly don't have US$ 1,000,000 to pay on a flag, so I can only wait that the future owner knows how to preserve and have good use of this true treasury of American history.

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