Smithsonian Announces Preliminary Findings of Star-Spangled Banner Preservation
- The colors of the flag are actually more vibrant and bright. The color had been obscured by the originally dyed-to-match stitches that had faded with time.
- A number of previously undocumented patches have been found. Archival records indicated that the flag had 11 patches. With the stitches removed, the museum has found 27 areas that were patched over the years.
- In some areas of the flag, there is extensive fabric loss and deterioration. In some stripes, more than 60 percent of the original flag material is gone.
- The 1914 treatment resulted in stretching, bunching and folding the flag to fit it onto a rectangular linen backing. Tension from the stitches damaged the fibers and caused a quilted appearance.
- Removing the stitches also uncovered a hoist sleeve that is attached to the flag. The rope that hoists a flag up the flagpole runs through this kind of sleeve.
- Stains have been found which resemble cursive writing and conservators are investigating to determine if these are “ink.” These may be the signatures that Fowler described in her 1914 report.
- Even though the flag is an extremely fragile textile, wool research shows that with proper treatment and a controlled environment, the flag can be displayed for generations to come.