The 13-star flag is the earliest and one of the rarest colors in the collection. The Third Flag Act of 1818 stated, "That from and after the fourth day of July next, the flag of the United States be thirteen horizontal stripes alternate red and white: that the union be twenty stars, white in a blue field and be it further enacted, that on the admission of every new state into the Union, one star be added to the union of the flag; and that such addition shall take effect of the fourth day of July then next succeeding such admission."
The canton, uppermost and lowermost stripes with selvage edges. There is no evidence of a larger canton or additional stripes. Loss to hoist, flag with frayed edges, scattered losses and mends
In 1818 and thereafter the admission of a new state would require a new star be added to the flag by the next July 4th. Prior to 1818 the number of stars and even the number of stripes varied. However thirteen star versions, even after 1818, continued to be used until officially retired by President Wilson in 1916. This has lead to the need to use textile analysis to date early thirteen star flags. One expert believes the flag’s heavy thread dates the flag to “after 1810” and further advances in thread construction in the 1840s to “before 1840”.
According to Col. Nannos we can say, about lot 13, possibly “late 18th century into the early 19th century” and that is probably better than it sounds because so few flags survive. They were fragile in construction and often later cut up and re-sewn for other purposes. “The Navy was frugal," Col. Nannos explained.
When asked to estimate how many early 13 star flags will appear during the next 100 years he suggested 2 to 5, that is the probability of reappearance is somewhere between 20 and 50 years. “They are very rare. There is no doubt about this.”