Over the centuries as the country has developed so, too has technology. The Stars and Stripes, the nation’s flag, has also changed to meet the times. The advances of technology have also affected how a flag manufacturer produces Old Glory. It is not only a shift to machinery. It is also a change in fabric. Old Glory ain’t what she used to be.
Early American Flags
In the early years, American flags were made of natural substances. These included those easily produced and obtained such as wool, cotton and linen. Linen, although strong, was less preferred than cotton. It was often employed for making stars. Silk was more expensive but it, too, became part of the fabric of the flag. It was favored for military flags and special events.
A very popular material was actually a mixture. This was wool bunting. It had originally been produced in England. It had the advantage of being less subject to fading than cotton, however, like silk, it was less readily available. In 1865, it also received a fatal blow from the American government. President Lincoln signed a law stating that all federal government purchasing for flags be with American bunting producers and not English ones.
A flag is more than its material. It requires dye. Originally, American relied on local and natural dyes. They turned to the madder plant to obtain red dyes while blue dye came from woad and indigo plants. The white portions of the flag were those not dyed although they were frequently bleached to make them whiter. Plants were the only source of dye until 1856 when a chemist, William Perkin (1838-1907), discovered a synthetic dye. This was Perkin’s mauve and was the start of another major change for a flag manufacturer.
Modern Flag Manufacturing
Today, you can still obtain a flag made from cotton or silk. These are strictly for indoor displays or decorative purposes. These may come for the facility of a custom flag maker. The dyes will still be synthetic.
In general, a flag manufacturer produces flags of all types from synthetic fabrics. The most common are polyester blends. These are durable and weather well. Nylon is another potential fabric. Originally it was more susceptible to adverse weather. It can now handle inclement weather better as a result of a special treatment against the negative effect of the sun’s UV rays. While the American flag may not be made in the way or how it used to be, it still emerges from the factory a Grand Old Flag.