Saturday, November 12, 2005

Amazing Pieces Of American History Being Returned To US - Hopefully!

At at time when the Getty is being forced to return tens of millions of dollars in art works to Italy and Greece, four flags from the American Revolutionary War are being returned from England to New York for auction:

Stripes, Stars and Dollar Signs

The war veterans who once revered them and followed them - and then lost them - are all long gone. But now, their battle standards, taken by the enemy, have at last returned to American soil after two and a quarter centuries.

The flags are believed to date from the Revolutionary War and to have been seized by a notorious British cavalry officer, Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton.

On Oct. 28, the four flags arrived in New York from the south of
England, where they had been privately hung as wall trophies by Tarleton's descendants.

Their sudden re-emergence, like the awakening of a martial Rip Van Winkle, has caused a stir in military and historical circles, to the intense satisfaction of Sotheby's, the auction house. It hopes to sell the flags next year for a total of $4 million to $10 million.

Such an improbably grand price for four faded pieces of fragile, hand-stitched and hand-painted silk derives from their origin as "sacred and vivid relics of the birth our nation," said David N. Redden, a vice chairman of Sotheby's in Manhattan.

"Flags of such rarity and history have never come up for sale," said Mr. Redden, who has an auction tentatively scheduled for next June 14 - Flag Day.

Now Los Angeles museums have nothing of this emotional impact from our nation's founding. But the odds of anyone in LA buying even one of these unique pieces of American History for our city is, of course, zero. Not only do we not have a museum about the history of our country, or of our state - we are also the only city of any size that does not even have a history of its own history.

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