A wonderful naval rarity

Anonymous, [Untitled engraving on linen depicting 152 flags of world navies.] [Probably British, ca. 1830-1836] .
Engraving on linen with added color (stenciled rather than printed?). Slightly irregular dimensions, but approximately 26"h x 31"w at neat line plus margins. Upper and lower edges stitched. Framed with archival materials.

A spectacular and very rare textile featuring naval flags of the early 19th century.

The border comprises large standards of (clockwise from top left) the United States, England, France, Belgium, Spain, Russia, Portugal and Holland. These are interspersed with portraits of warships under sail, including at lower left an unnamed American frigate. The border elements surround a block of 144 small standards arranged in rows of 12, including among others numerous British flags, the “American Jack,” and those of Arabia, the “Algerine Rovers,” the Turkish Empire, Persia, China, the Pope, Venice and the Russian American Company.

Of particular American interest is the “Standard of America” in the upper-left corner. The stars are grouped in a star shape, following a short-lived design by Samuel Chester Reid of 1818-19. However the textile may be dated to a slightly later date by the 24-star “American Jack,” the first flag in the third row from the top. Missouri was admitted to the Union as the 24th state in 1821, and this flag was employed from 1822-1836. The French tricolor suggests a narrowing of this range to after 1830, as this design was “retired” after the fall of Napoleon in 1815 then reintroduced following the 1830 accession of Louis Philippe.

The reds and yellows have faded somewhat, but the contrast of the geometric arrangement with the proliferation and variety of images make for a delightful, impressive and interesting presentation. Due to the delicacy of the material objects such as this are extremely rare, and this is one of only two examples known to this writer (The other is also in our inventory.)

Not in Threads of History.


Toned and somewhat soiled. Reds and yellows somewhat faded and a few small holes in left and right border.