Revolutionary War Flags Collection at Sotheby’s

Revolutionary War Flags Collection

The sale eclipsed the previous record of $4 million set earlier this year by a flag that once belonged to George Washington. The sale establishes a new standard for Revolutionary War artifacts, experts say. Only about 30 of the era’s flags are known to exist, and all but four sold at Sotheby’s were in museums or other institutional collections, according to Whitney Smith, director of the Flag Research Center. Most of the others are fragments with little historic information available. The four sold at Sotheby’s, however, were documented by Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, a firebrand British commander who captured them in battles nearly a year apart.More

Honoring Patriots: Revolutionary War Flags Collection

The oldest of the four is a blue silk flag with 13 white stars in an expanded canton and red stripes alternating with blue. It was the regimental flag of a company of minutemen from Bedford, Massachusetts, and was carried at the battles at Lexington and Concord. It bears an armored arm wielding a sword and a rattlesnake—the colonists’ favorite animal emblem—and the words “Vince aut Morire,” meaning “Conquer or Die.”

Another rare Revolutionary War flag is a crimson silk banner that represents Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski’s cavalry legion. It shows a shield bearing the motto, “No Other Governs,” with Lady Liberty holding a liberty cap and treading on the crown of the British monarchy. She is flanked by blindfolded Lady Justice holding scales and a sword, symbolizing the swift and fair application of law. This flag is also adorned with exploding hand grenades in the corners.

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