This Treasure from the Archives is on display at the Scott House, 4 Sunset Lane, for the month of July. Stop by and count the stars.
There are multiple antique American flags in the archives of the Ridgefield Historical Society. However, this one is likely the oldest, having only 38 stars. Count them!
The flag has some wear and tear, although it’s rather intact for its age — over 150 years — due to marvels of archival preservation. It is marked H. C. Norton, the name of a flag-making company active until at least 1948, and “American Ensign,” which designates a flag flown on a ship to indicate nationality.
This flag is 5 feet long, and marked as being patented April 26th, 1870. Which is strange, as Colorado did not become the 38th state until 1876. Our theory is that H. C. Norton probably decided to patent their 38-star flag early, as there was no official template for the American flag until the Centennial in 1876. This flag also represents the shift of flag making to a more industrialized process. Previous to this, many people handmade their flags with their own natural dyes and embroidery, or got them from local craftspeople who did the same.
After the Civil War, it became increasingly common for flags to be made by companies, until they reached the more mass-produced process that we know today around the middle of the 20th century. This flag, along with two other American flags and a naval flag, came from the Ridgefield Library‘s collection, and officially became part of our collection in 2015.