This 13-star banner, passed down through generations as a treasured heirloom, was considered by the donor’s family to be a Revolutionary War flag. However, it is much more likely to date after 1796—the earliest known use of this arrangement of stars. Congress’s 1777 “Flag Resolution” decreed only that there be 13 red and white stripes and white stars on a blue field. The resolution didn’t prescribe a certain arrangement, so the earliest flags display quite a variety of designs.
At some point, someone assumed this flag, like many early ones, must date to the Revolution. The donor was Dorothy Dufour Larkin, a member of the Camp Middlebrook DAR Chapter, Bound Brook, N.J., so it’s clear the family had Revolutionary roots, making it probable that this heirloom dates to the Revolutionary generation, if not the war era itself.
Photography by Mark Gulezian