Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Forster Flag, 1775

The Forster Flag, 1775

Over the past few years I have blogged several posts about my cousin's long renovation project of the Israel Forster house.  You can read some of the posts at this link HERE.  A few months ago she told me that an interesting artifact from the house was up for auction.  It would be fun to bid on this object and return it to the Forster house, but unfortunately this was expected to sell for millions of dollars!

The Forster Flag was created in 1775.  It is red, with seven white stripes on one side, and six white stripes on the reverse.  This flag was carried by the men of Manchester, Massachusetts when they answered the Lexington alarm on 19 April 1775.  According to oral tradition, it was created from a flag from a British ship. The flag was flown by Captain Samuel Forster of Manchester, and preserved in his family for two centuries. For a long time it was kept at the Israel Forster house, built in 1804, in the center of Manchester.  In 1975 it was acquired by the Flag Heritage Foundation in Winchester, Massachusetts.

The Israel Forster House, Manchester, MA

The Doyle Auction House in New York City auctioned off the Forster Flag yesterday.  The proceeds from the auction were being donated to the Whitney Flag Research Center Collection in the Dolph Brisco Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

And the big news?  Who won the auction and how much did they pay?

At this auction of priceless historical items, a Babylonian cuneiform clay cylinder was sold for a record setting $605,000.  Other items included a full multi volume set of Birds of America illustrated by John James Audobon and Reverend Cotton Mather's book Wonders of the Invisible World: Being an Account of the Tryals of Several Witches Lately Executed in New England  published one year after the Salem witch hysteria in 1693 (sold for $8,750).  These are very historic items at impressive sales prices.

I called the Doyle Auction house in New York City at 3 pm yesterday, well after the morning auction.  I was told that the flag remains UNSOLD.  I don't know if this means there were no bidders, or if a reserve price was set and never met.  According to an article at Fortune magazine's website, the University of Texas at Austin was holding out for a minimum reserve (see this link: )

The story is apparently not finished!

US Flag stamps, 2000
The Forster Flag is in the top row, 
second from the right

Pre-auction press release by the Doyle auction house: 

A story about the flag from the Gloucester Times, 8 April 2014 (before the auction)

A story about the Forster Flag from the Brisco Center for American History

UPDATE  29 April 2014


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Copyright (c) 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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