Author Topic: Bell System Flag  (Read 260 times)

Offline Dave F

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Bell System Flag
« on: March 25, 2021, 10:19:47 PM »
One small benefit of having my entire collection packed away is that, after some time has passed, every nook and cranny becomes a secret hiding place, full of potential for adventure and discovery.  I was recently looking through a closet in search of something completely unrelated to my telephone collection and ran across this Bell System flag which I had not set eyes on in several years.

First of all, it is very old.  The early Bell logo dates it to pre-1939.  Also, it’s made from wool whereas modern flags are usually made from cotton or nylon.  I keep it stored folded in an airtight plastic bag to prevent damage from moths which love to eat wool.

Secondly, it is huge!  Measures 9ft x 6ft – so big that I am unable to fully unfold it flat.  The picture you see here shows it draped completely across a queen-size bed.  To give you some perspective of just how big this flag is, one of the pictures shows a phone sitting on the Bell logo.

I must say that it was a real treat for me to run across it in this unexpected way and to have the time to take some pictures and share with you.  Now it is back in the closet, patiently waiting until some future time when I rediscover it and am delighted once again.

DF

Offline Russ Kirk

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Re: Bell System Flag
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2021, 12:37:56 AM »
Wonderful re-find. Preservation is important. 
- Russ Kirk
ATCA & TCI

Online FABphones

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Re: Bell System Flag
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2021, 02:41:26 AM »
Thanks for the dimension info, when I first saw the photo I had no concept of how huge that flag is. A nice item for display, I would be tempted to pop it up on the wall but alas, you are right to be careful of moths.

Where/why were these flags placed? Do you know where this one came from?

How long have you had this, and where did you come across it?

Thanks for sharing.
 :)

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Offline Dave F

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Re: Bell System Flag
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2021, 11:46:05 AM »
I bought it several years ago from another collector. I have no idea where it originally came from; however, due to the large size, it must have been pretty impressive flying over some major telco building!

DF
« Last Edit: March 26, 2021, 12:47:10 PM by Dave F »

Offline paul-f

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Re: Bell System Flag
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2021, 12:11:01 PM »
Where/why were these flags placed? Do you know where this one came from?

That's a wonderful example Dave!

Coincidentally, a few weeks ago I read an article in Bell Telephone Quarterly, July 1923 that claimed the flag was adopted and flown at The President's Conference, beginning on May 26. Images of the flag photo and the relevant quote are below. The full text of the  article follows.


 The presidents of the Associated Companies of the Bell System met with the executives of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company for a five-day conference at Yama Farms, on May 26th.

 It was the fourth annual meeting of the System's executives to confer on plans and policies that would enable the System successfully to meet its responsibility to furnish a national telephone service of the best possible quality and at the lowest possible cost.

 The progress made in reaching objectives along the lines of economy and efficiency defined at previous conferences, was found to be most encouraging.

 The growth of the System was shown to be even greater than had been anticipated and on a substantial basis. Problems in connection with financing and building the plant extensions required for the continuing demand of the public for service, were discussed in detail, and improvements in means and methods of operation were carefully considered.

 Much evidence was given of the high morale of the operating forces and of the increasing cooperation of telephone users due to a better understanding of the System's problems, purposes and standards. Plans were made for adding still further to the public's general knowledge of the System and for securing the public's cooperation.

 Particularly interesting were the accounts of the recent developments and improvements of the communications art achieved by the System's scientists and research engineers.

 A feature of the conference was the adoption of a Bell System flag which is pictured elsewhere in this magazine, to be flown from hundreds of Bell-owned buildings, to suggest the national character of the service as well as the immense physical resources of the Bell System.


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Offline Dave F

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Re: Bell System Flag
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2021, 12:51:09 PM »
Thanks, Paul.

Your info dates this flag to the period between 1923 and 1939.

DF

Online Key2871

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Re: Bell System Flag
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2021, 01:30:02 PM »
Wow that's a very nice re-find. And it's age and history are great as well. Congratulations.
KEN

Offline Witty

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Re: Bell System Flag
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2021, 11:17:13 PM »
Dave,
What an amazing find you have!
My thoughts are you probably have one of the very first original flags made for the local offices, based on the size. These were made in various smaller sizes later, mostly of cotton.
I noticed there are some small stains on yours.
If I could make a few recommendations;
Having dealt with old woolen items before, I would suggest you get it professionally dry cleaned and have the stain removed.
Old wool is very durable and last longer the cleaner it is and how well it’s protected.
Then store it in an acid free cotton cover and in a dry environment if possible. I noticed no moth damage which is very good for its age.
I can’t imagine many of these survived in this condition.

Ken

Offline Dave F

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Re: Bell System Flag
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2021, 12:02:59 AM »
Thanks for your suggestions Ken.  Having it dry cleaned is already on my extensive to-do list.  It has no damage from moths, but there are some tears that should be professionally repaired before I attempt to clean it.

The size of the Bell logo in relation to the total size of the flag looks very similar to the black and white picture that Paul F posted earlier.  On newer flags, the central logo is relatively much smaller. This leads me to believe that this flag is indeed a very early one.

DF

Offline magicbrain

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Re: Bell System Flag
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2021, 01:27:23 PM »
Dave,
No offence to you or anyone here, but IMHO the last thing you should do with this flag is have it dry cleaned - the chemicals used might not damage it, however the mechanical action of the equipment & temperatures involved in the process very well could - That flag is a beauty & considering its age it is in great condition, even with some minor tears/stains.
Bruce
Atca# 4778

Offline Dave F

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Re: Bell System Flag
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2021, 03:43:36 PM »
Bruce,

Thanks for your input - absolutely no offense taken. I appreciate what everybody has to say. This item has been sitting quietly in the closet for years, and it is currently in the same condition as when I received it. Obviously, I will do plenty of research and talk to all the right people (including those on this Forum) before I risk doing anything that might harm this great relic.

DF