The use of flags as symbols has long been a topic of controversy for our nation. What are the appropriate uses of the flag and how should it be displayed? Congress repeatedly dealt with the prickly issue of protecting the dignity of the flag. Bills were crafted to prohibit placing advertising on Old Glory recommending fines and imprisonment. Bills were introduced in 1880 and 1890 to that effect, neither of which went anywhere (see above). It is interesting that Congress appeared to have more concern during the late 19th century on commercial uses of the flag above other abuses. Today star-spangled advertising is all the rage. Old Glory has become dresses, trousers, bikinis, rain gear, hats, boots, beverage containers, smokes, appliances, pens, blankets, buckets, and just about anything that the American entrepreneur can imagine. Seeing Old Glory on a handkerchief that can be used to cover a balding pate as well as serve for many a less noble purpose, hardly raises an eyebrow today.
The above image is a newspaper clipping from the Mohave County Miner of May 31, 1890. This was a widely circulated newspaper article and can be found in sources throughout the nation. I have yet to find what happened to the bill after coming out of committee.