It's Memorial Day weekend and time to show off the American flag. Flags will be flying in front yards, businesses and public spaces. Why not hunt for an old or antique flag? They are fairly common at flea markets, antiques stores and auctions. Some, of course, are rarer and more valuable than others.
This flag sold for $256,500 at a recent Freeman's auction in Philadelphia. It was found in a trunk that belonged to a Michael Patrick Patton (1870-1943), and was passed on to his great-grandson in the early 1960s. The elder Patton worked at a cotton cloth factory in Cobb's Creek, Pa., near Philadelphia, and in the early 1900s, he decorated buildings and large interiors with flags and patriotic displays.
The hand-sewn 22-inch by 39-inch flag is blue wool canton cloth with 13 appliquéd cotton stars and 13 red and white wool stripes. It has a written inscription thought to have been made by Nathaniel Ames (1761-1863). Ames served in the Connecticut Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, worked on a merchant ship that traveled to the West Indies, and then became a farmer and minister, settling in New York and later Wisconsin. Patton's great grandson eventually had the flag analyzed to verify that it was indeed an 18th century flag. It sold along with correspondence and other records relating to Nathaniel Ames.
You can find a great old flag for lots less money than that!