U.S. NAVY COMMISSIONING PENNANT WITH 7 STARS, A 4 FT. EXAMPLE, WWI-WWII ERA (1917-1945)
7 star nautical commissioning pennant, made sometime in the period between WWI (U.S. involvement 1917-18) and WWII (U.S. involvement 1941-1945).
Commissioning pennants are the distinguishing mark of a commissioned U.S. Navy ship. A ship became commissioned when this pennant was hoisted. Flown during both times of peace and war, the only time the pennant is not flown is if a flag officer or civilian official is aboard and replaces it with their own flag.
Commissioning pennants were once very important in their role as signals and thus needed to be seen from great distance. During the 18th and 19th centuries, they usually exceed ten feet in length, with some reaching as long as a hundred feet. During the 1st quarter of the 20th they became largely ceremonial and customary. Most range between four feet (like this example) and six feet on the fly. Today the largest commissioning pennants measure two-and-a-half inches by six feet.
Note that there are two sizes of stars, 4 larger and 3 smaller. It is interesting to note that, according to the U.S. Navy, the reason for the choice of 7 stars was not recorded. I have always suspected that the number might reference the "7 Seas", though this is an ancient term and geographers disagree on its precise meaning. The number may just as likely have represented what seemed like a logical design choice when the overall length was substantially shortened.
Note the crude form of the stars, which also vary in size across the row. Typically there are two sizes of stars, 4 larger, followed by 3 smaller. Though the purpose is unknown, this arrangement is seen on many other commissioning pennants. It is interesting to note that according to the U.S. Navy, the reason for the choice of 7 stars was not recorded. I have always suspected that the number might reference the "7 Seas", though this is an ancient term and geographers disagree on the precise meaning. The number may just as likely have represented what seemed like a logical design choice when the overall length was substantially shortened.
This particular pennant is made of wool bunting with cotton stars that are appliquéd with a zigzag, machine stitch. There is a canvas hoist with a single brass grommet, on which the words “Comm Penn” are stamped in black ink, along with the numeral “7.” This did not stand for 7 feet, but rather meant that it was designated as a "No. 7" pennant in the U.S. Navy code book.
Mounting: The pennant has been hand-stitched to 100% hemp fabric. It has been folded back-and-forth in a visually interesting zigzag fashion, which simultaneously allows it to be accommodated in a cove shaped molding with a very dark brown finish, almost black, to which a hand-gilded and distressed Italian molding was added as a liner. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass.
Condition: There is very minor mothing, and there is minor overall soiling, but there are no serious condition issues.
Frame Size (H x L): 14.5" x 25" Flag Size (H x L): 2.5" x 48" (unfurled)
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