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Classic Covers: Old Glory

Uncle Sam makes an appearance with the U.S. flag on the July 13, 1901, cover, staking the flag into Britain with steel bars, representing the expansion of “metallurgic establishments” by one J. P. Morgan into that country. That simple black and white effort by artist George Gibbs was only the beginning of Old Glory’s numerous appearances on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.

The summer classic, a much more colorful version, is John Falter’s Family Portrait on the Fourth, featuring the whole family, from great-grandma to the newest baby, posing for a photographer with the stars and stripes as a backdrop hanging from the front porch. You’re bound to recognize a couple of relatives from this one.

Another summertime theme, and another Falter offering, is the 1960 cover of Michigan Avenue, Chicago, where the flag waves over dog walkers, balloon sellers, and tourists taking photos. Nothing says summer like the American flag flying, waving in the breeze.

Naturally, the flag was a popular theme during the WWII years. Etched in our collective memory is Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, a tough-looking gal wielding equipment previously handled only by men, and the huge stars and stripes behind her leave no doubt for whom she toils. Another 1943 cover, this time by Rockwell neighbor John Atherton, shows the American flag leading the way in the breeze with the flags of our allies against an appropriately darkening sky.

The flag waved merrily in many Post renditions of Fourth of July parades, such as the Hillville City parade depicted in the July 5, 1958, cover by artist Ben Prins. Never mind that they had to stop and fix a flat tire on the vehicle pulling the float, Lady Liberty and her Boy Scouts hold fast to the flag for all to salute.

Oddly enough, our most striking cover of Old Glory is from a Post artist who did mostly landscapes, John Clymer. No baseball games, no soldiers, no schoolrooms decorated by a flag in the back, just a waving close-up of our beautiful colors. Perfect for Flag Day.

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