Annapolis Maryland Blog Photograph • Independence Day and John Shaw’s Historical 1780’s American Flag • Monday July 4th 2016

Patriotic Accent at the James Andrews House

John Shaw's Historical 1870's American Flag On Display at the James Andrews House in Annapolis Maryland July 4th 2016

Click on Photograph to Enlarge

First of all Happy Fourth of July, or Independence Day if you prefer, and second yes I know that the weather currently in Annapolis is far from bright and sunny. However I’m posting this photograph featuring a replica of John Shaw’s late 18th century American Flag hanging at the circa 1850 James Andrews House that I took a few days ago. Since it was taken on a picturesque sun filled afternoon, so as to determine the best perspective to photograph it from on the 4th, and seeing that today’s overcast skies are less than desirable I’ve opted to post this one instead.

John Shaw in Annapolis Maryland

For those interested Mr. John Shaw was a Scottish born craftsman who came to Annapolis in the 1760’s. After arriving in the City he trained and worked as a cabinet maker and by 1768 was engaged as a craftsman for notable residents such as Mr. John Brice. By the early 1770’s Mr. Shaw and fellow Scotsman Mr. Chisholm, also a cabinet maker, partnered in a successful City cabinet making business. In 1776 Mr. Shaw started his own cabinet making concern in Annapolis. In addition to being a noted cabinet maker Mr. Shaw was also an undertaker as well as a flag maker. It was upon completion of the Maryland State House in the late 1770’s that Mr. Shaw also became its informal caretaker as well as building most of the legislative chambers furniture. To associate Mr. Shaw with Annapolis today one only has to walk past his still standing 18th century house and workshop at 21 State Circle, across from the State House, in order to do so. Originally built as a residence and shop for the butcher Cornelius Brooksby, Jr. in 1720 Mr. Shaw purchased the house in 1784. Note that today Mr. Shaw’s former house serves as offices for the State of Maryland.

Origins and Design of Mr. Shaw’s 1780’s American Flag

As to the history of this particular American Flag Mr. Shaw was commissioned by then Maryland Governor William Paca in late 1783 to design a flag that would be flown at the State House while the Continental Congress was in session during late 1783 and early 1784. Mr. Shaw designed two similar style flags with the first having top and bottom white stripes that featured alternating red and white stripes between, as seen displayed on the James Andrews House above. The second of Mr. Shaw’s American Flags featured top and bottom red stripes with alternating white and red stripes between. Both flags included three groups of white stars on a blue field, four on either side of the five stars set in the middle, that together represented the thirteen original colonies.

Uniquely Annapolis

Hardly ever flown in the Historic District yet on an occasion or two I have seen Mr. Shaw’s American Flag displayed on Pinkney Street and also King George Street as well. Well this concludes today’s Independence Day look back in Annapolis 18th century history and I hoped that you enjoyed it.

Have a safe and pleasant Fourth of July,


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2 comments to Annapolis Maryland Blog Photograph • Independence Day and John Shaw’s Historical 1780’s American Flag • Monday July 4th 2016

  • Elaine Sack

    Hello, Mr. Gibson,
    I am just a fan of your photography and I enjoy your postings daily with my coffee!
    I lived in Severna Park in the 60s and 70s in the communities of Chartwell and Ruby Hall (attended the private school, Wroxeter-on-Severn, too!).
    I love looking at my Annapolis hometown through your photos and I wanted you to know how much I appreciate the work you do. Your insights into the history of the area are well-researched and a true delight to read! The July 4th, 2016 posting is very informative.
    I am currently living in Northern California…but my heart will always be in MD.
    I simply wanted to thank you for your website.
    We will be visiting Annapolis in the coming fall and look forward to seeing (and maybe purchasing) some of your photos at your storefront.
    Thank you for your excellent insight and for making me feel just a bit closer to my Annapolis roots ~ every morning!
    Elaine K. Sack, MA, Ed.

    • anpbaystate

      Dear Elaine,

      Thank you for your message. I must say that it served to remind me of one of the main reasons I so enjoy taking photographs on my daily walks in Annapolis, yesterday not with standing of course, while at the same time being able to share them with readers such as yourself. Over the last five years of posting my photographs, as well as composing their associated articles, on the City of Annapolis I can’t ever recall having received such a nice message from a reader like the one you so thoughtfully sent to me today. There is perhaps no greater sense of satisfaction for an artist to experience than that of having their creative efforts both appreciated as well as enjoyed by others.

      It was also good to read that you found my Fourth of July blog post a delight for I was most fortunate in coming across that replica of a 1783 Shaw American Flag; hanging from the 19th century James Andrews House, late last week. The intent of my brief article was to share a little about Mr. Shaw’s life and accomplishments as a craftsman over the course of his years living in Annapolis, as well as a brief background on his variation of an American flag.

      As an aside I found it humorous to see that you enjoy reading my blog with your coffee for I on the other hand usually spend part of my mornings composing the day’s post over a cup or two myself.

      Thank you once again Elaine for your very kind message,

      Glenn Gibson

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