A Lifelong Pledge

  • (1996) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
    19-star “exclusionary flag” from 1861. (1996) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (2012) Veninga-Zaricor  Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
    A banner from the USS Constitution—”Old Ironsides”—is one of the oldest survivng flags from the ship, dating from 1845 to 1850. (2012) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (2000) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
    A 35-star national color for a volunteer army regiment in Philadelphia, circa 1863. (2000) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (1999) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
    This 34-star flag flew at the Albany, N.Y., train station on April 26, 1865, the day President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train stopped on its way to Springfield, Ill. (1999) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (2001) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
    The American Anti-Slavery Almanac in 1844 shows signs of strife well before the Civil War, with the flag’s stars divided by color into North and South, and a liberty cap out of the slave’s reach. The verse is by William Lloyd Garrison, the almanac’s editor. (2001) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (2007) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
    The flag of the United States that was on President John F. Kennedy’s limousine the day he was assassinated in Dallas, November 22, 1963. (2007) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  •  (2005) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC.
    Fhe presidential flag that was on President John F. Kennedy’s limousine the day he was assassinated in Dallas, November 22, 1963. (2005) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC.
  • Bettmann/CORBIS.
    President John F. Kennedy on the day he was assassinated in Dallas, November 22, 1963. Bettmann/CORBIS.
  • (1995) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
    General George A. Custer’s crossed-swords military flag used to mark his location in the battlefield. (1995) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (1995) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
    General George A. Custer’s personal guidon, the crossed-swords military flag used to mark his location in the battlefield, and his 3rd Division Cavalry Corps flag are both visible in an 1864 photograph of his headquarters in Winchester, Va. (1995) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (1995) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
    General George A. Custer’s personal guidon. (1995) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (2002) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz
    A regimental color from the 18th U.S. Regular Infantry, circa 1863 to 1865. (2002) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz
  • (2000) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
    A 26-star “grand luminary—shooting star” flag, circa 1837 to 1845 (2000) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (2002) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz
    A rare, 13-star flag from 1814 or earlier has a machine-stitched panel added later, bearing the names of two men who would become the 1880 Democratic nominees for president and vice president, Winfield S. Hancock and William H. English. (2002) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz
  • (1996) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (2012) Veninga-Zaricor  Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (2000) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (1999) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (2001) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (2007) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  •  (2005) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC.
  • Bettmann/CORBIS.
  • (1995) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (1995) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (1995) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (2002) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz
  • (2000) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz, LLC
  • (2002) Veninga-Zaricor Family and Fog kist of Santa Cruz
<< Back to Collection, June 2014

Ben Zaricor collects American history and identity, in fabric form. He owns one flag that has not just been to the moon—it was “postmarked” on the lunar surface with tire tracks. He owns two banners that flew on the presidential limousine on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Most impressive, he owns a stunning array of flags from the days when the 13 states were represented by that same number of stars. And each banner has rich meaning. Call it historical texture.

Over the course of more than 40 years, Zaricor has amassed the largest and deepest collection of American flags, and flag memorabilia, in the country, maybe in the world. David Redden, vice chairman of Sotheby’s in New York, calls it nothing less than “one of the most extraordinary private collections ever put together.” Zaricor buys these swaths of emblematic fabric, and authenticates them, and exhibits them, for reasons more intense than the average collector’s motivation. While every flag tells a story, all of his American flags collectively tell the American story.

“They help us understand our country,” says Zaricor, 66, the former CEO of Good Earth Tea. “They contribute so much richness. We do have a very diverse culture, but at the end of the day, people don’t have to agree on any central point about the flag. It has such a commonality and meaning that individuals can tell their own stories. What I’m collecting is old pieces of cloth, but they’re stories, something meaningful to someone else.”

The core of the collection comprises Zaricor’s eight 13-star flags from the very earliest days of both the banner and the country—and by that he’s talking circa 1777. Many are homemade. As he has written, few Americans realize the flag has been from the outset a statement made by individuals, not the government, “something we use in our everyday lives to express ourselves and our political freedoms. Our flag tells a story of diverse ideas, cultures, personalities, races, and political persuasions,” he says. “It is a story of both differences and unity.”

Redden of Sotheby’s says flags are valuable and collectible for a number of reasons: “You have flags that have evolved over time, and you have flags that represent the early stage of the flag, but I’m more interested in flags that have a fantastic history, where the flag has true power and resonance, recognition that it was a significant part of a historical event—that’s when a flag is extremely valuable.”

“When you talk about provenance and so on, you’re really talking about a flag that tells a story,” Redden adds. “Stories are the best part of these kinds of historical objects. Ben has been very focused on his collection; he is one of these people who tries to get as much information as he can get. He works with academics and understands flags very well.”

(continued)

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