Flags. It is probable that almost as soon as men began to collect together for common purposes some kind of conspicuous object was used, as the symbol of a common sentiment, as the rallying point of the common force. In military expeditions, where any degree of organization and discipline prevailed, objects of such a kind would be necessary to mark out the lines and stations of encampment, and to keep in order the different bands when marching or in battle. And, in addition to all this, it cannot be doubted that flags or their equivalents have often served, by reminding men of past resolves, past deeds, past heroes, to rally to enthusiasm those sentiments of family pride and honor, of personal devotion, patriotism, or religion, upon which, as well as upon good leadership and numerical force, success in warfare depends. Among the remains of that people who have left the earliest traces of civilization - the Egyptians - the records and forms of objects used as ensigns are frequently to be found. These are of such designs as there is reason to believe were associated in the minds of men with feelings of awe and devotion. Sacred animals, boats, emblems, a tablet bearing a king's name, were raised on the end of a staff as standards, and the office of bearing them was held a peculiar privilege and honor. Somewhat similar seem to have been the customs of the Assyrians. The Persians bore an eagle fixed to the end of a lance upon their standard, which appears to have been formed of some kind of textile, and was guarded with the greatest jealousy by the bravest men in the army. The Carian soldier who slew the great Cyrus was allowed the honor of carrying a golden cock at the head of the army, it being the custom of the Carians to wear that bird as a crest on their helmets. The Greeks bore a piece of armor on a spear in early times; afterward the Athenians bore the olive and the owl, the Corinthians a pegasus, the Thebans a sphinx. The Dacians carried a standard representing a contorted serpent, while the dragon was the military sign of many peoples. The North American Indians carried poles fledged with feathers plucked from the wings of eagles, and similar customs seem to have prevailed among other semi-savage peoples.

The flags of the United States were many and various both before and after the Declaration of Independence, and even after the introduction of the stars and stripes these underwent many changes in the manner of their arrangement before taking the position at present established. Since 1818, however, it has consisted of thirteen horizontal stripes, representing the thirteen original states of the Union, seven red and six white, placed alternately, with a blue field having displayed on it one white five-pointed star for each state in the Union. It is asserted by historians that the design was originated by Washington, copied partially from the coat-of-arms of the Washington family in use prior to their removal from England.

The manufacture of flags falls naturally into three large classes. The first is composed of those that are made out of some appropriate material, either bunting, silk or cotton, sewed together and thus made into one ensign. The second includes the clamp-dyed bunting flags, which are the most expensive examples in wool that are manufactured. The third class consists of the printed cotton flags, vast quantities of which, of a very cheap sort, are used for special and temporary purposes, such as decorating soldiers' graves, the garnishing of banquet halls and the beautifying of stores on holdiays. The bunting of which our national emblem is formed is composed entirely of wool of a strong fiber, to enable the flag to stand any amount of flapping and stress of weather. For this purpose the staple selected is long, and generally of so coarse a quality that it would be used for no other purpose than frieze cloth or carpets. The yarn is strongly twisted and feels in the cloth to be very harsh and hard. Until the close of 1804 the whole of the bunting used in the United States was shipped from England, and it was in this year that some one asked General Benj. Butler who was largely interested in the United States Bunting Co., why he did not make bunting. This led the company, who had previously been importing their goods to make experiments, which resulted in the successful manufacture of American bunting. Tests were made by military men of the relative value of American as against foreign bunting, and the result was so satisfactory that large orders were given out, and the General's company enjoyed a long run of prosperity. The effect on prices since then has been extraordinary, for the bunting which in 1864 sold at $30 to $40 per piece, now sells at $5 per piece. The bunting is woven in the natural white color of the wool, and is then either dyed in the whole piece, or clamp-dyed. Clamp-dyeing consists in dyeing a single wide piece of bunting with alternate bars or stripes of red, in order to avoid the the necessity of sewing together separate stripes to constitute the colors. It is an expensive process, for in order to prevent the part of the piece not intended to be colored from taking the dye it is covered up and squeezed by two pieces of wood. As it is both tedious and expensive, clamp-dyed bunting plays only a small part in flag making. The general way is to take the piece and have it dyed the proper colors, and from these to fashion the flag. The stars are cut out with dies and sewn by sewing machines on the proper place. The stripes and colors are done in the same manner. As to durability there is little to choose between either process, but the clamp-dyed flags make the lightest as well as the most attractive emblems when examined. It would be difficult to estimate the aggregate annual production of flags of all sorts, but the amount is something enormous, and it may well cause wonder, as in the case of pins, where they all go to. In the aggregate, the commercial harvest based upon the love of our people for their national emblem is a rich one. The industry supplies thousands of good Americans with steady work during campaign seasons, and as the patriotic effect of having the flag so universally unfurled cannot but be helpful to the public, all engaged in the manufacture and sale of these articles can feel a solid satisfaction in a comfortable combination of gain and public spirit.