41 Star Flag

Discussion in 'Flag Identification and Collecting' started by David77, Jul 14, 2018.

  1. David77

    David77 New Member

    8DB55139-4E53-4BDE-9332-FBDB0DD908DC.jpeg View attachment 2235 Hi. I just discovered this forum recently. I have a 41 star cotton flag I inherited many years ago from my grandfather. It’s about 16” x 25”. It was in a cherry wood frame against glass for a long time and it’s faded in the front but brighter on the back. See photos. I know it’s considered extremely rare. Wondering if anyone has an idea if it’s value? Thanks!
  2. FoxValleyMike

    FoxValleyMike Member

    I'm no expert but a quick google search indicates that a 41 star count was never an official flag and is an extremely rare flag to have.

    I found this on firstdibs.com (an auction site I believe so take the below with a grain or two of salt):

    41 was never an official star count. There were many flags produced with unofficial star counts, but this one was accurate for just three days and is extremely rare.

    On November 2nd of 1889, the Dakotas became the 39th and 40th states. Six days later, on November 8th, Montana entered as the 41st state. And just three days following, on November 11th, Washington became the 42nd state. Flag makers had been producing 38 and 39 star flags in anticipation of the addition of the Dakota territory, either as one or as two separate states. They passed over the 40 and 41 star counts, however, since 4 states were unexpectedly added during this 9 day period and there was virtually no reason to make flags with these counts. Celebrations would have taken place in the respective states upon their addition, however, and also possibly at the nation's capital. Some of the 40 and 41 star flags may likely have been produced for these events.

    Whatever their purpose may have been, 41 star flags are among the most rare that exist in all of flag collecting. There are probably fewer than twenty 41 star parade flags or hand-wavers (small printed flags) known to exist, all of which have the same star configuration, which consists of staggered rows of 5-4-5-4-5-4-5-4-5. It is highly unusual to have so many rows on a 19th century American national flag in any star count. Flag-makers generally preferred fewer rows with more stars.

    I would definitely keep it protected from sunlight and maybe have someone appraise it. You MAY have an extremely rare flag in your possession. It certainly looks old enough to my eye to be one of the smaller parade flags, and not a reproduction.
  3. David77

    David77 New Member

    Good idea to have it appraised though I doubt it’s a reproduction. It was the only flag in my grandfather’s (Lt Gen Daniel Noce’s) collection. I think he would’ve preferred an original.
  4. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    I once saw what was purportedly a "41-star" American Flag. In reality, it was a 50-Star with the first two (left-hand) columns of Stars (9 Stars) cut off the Flag.

    Judging by the way it's been stretched out, even with its oddly oriented Stars, I don't think this is the case with this Flag.

    A similar (official/unofficial) situation occurred way back in 1912 in the Territory/State of New Mexico. A bunch of over-enthusiastic statehood supporters in New Mexico created their own 47-Star Flags and flew them proudly in late 1911 and early 1912. New Mexico gained their much anticipated Statehood (Joined The Union) when they became the 47th State on January 6th, 1912. With great pride in their newly minted State, New Mexicans proudly flew their locally-made 47-Star Flags, even though any official changes to the U.S. Flag wouldn't take place until July 4th, 1912.

    39 days later, on February 14th, 1012, Arizona rained on the New Mexicans' Flag parade by becoming the 48th State.

    On July 4th, 1012, the United States Flag officially passed over the 47 Star configuration and changed from having 46 Stars to having 48 Stars, thus recognizing both New Mexico and Arizona's statehoods.

    Many New Mexicans still proudly (and maybe a little defiantly) waved their locally-made 47-Star Flags that marked their State's entry into the Union.

    BUT . . .

    A few New Mexicans wisely put away their 47-Star "anomalies" and stored them out-of-sight, out of the wind and the Sun, and out-of-mind. And there they remained until the approach of New Mexico's Statehood Centennial in 2012. Then they started showing up here and there, one at a time, sparking debate as to their authenticity. Some of them were put up for sale or auction. Those with a clear provenance brought a pretty penny to their owners. Those with no clear provenance, well... Let's just say that they were probably put away to be safely stored until New Mexico's far distant Statehood Bicentennial celebrations in 2112. . .

    Or, so the legend goes. . .

    Flaggily Yours,

    Robin Hickman
    "Your Friendly Neighborhood Flag Man"
    Eugene, Oregon, USA.
    David77 likes this.
  5. David77

    David77 New Member

    Thanks Robin.
    Wondering how I’d go about authenticating.
  6. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hi, David77!

    In these types of situations (and since I am NO expert), I usually recommend that folks who have questions regarding their old, vintage, and/or antique Flags, contact Jeff Bridgman. Mr. Bridgman is an acknowledged, and highly respected, expert on Flags in general and American Flags in particular. He is also a dealer in old, vintage, and antique Flags and "Americana" objects.


    BEFORE you contact Mr. Bridgman, or ANY other antique Flag Expert, make sure that you have on hand every bit of information that you possibly can about your Flag, its origins, background, history, and, yes, extensive photos, including detailed "close-ups" that show its construction details. You'll need all that information because that's what will be needed to determine what kind of Flag you actually have and its approximate "market value". In some cases, you might be asked to mail your Flag so that it can be examined "close-up and personal", if you know what I mean.

    I hope this information helps.

    Good Luck!

    Robin Hickman
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2018
  7. David77

    David77 New Member

  8. David Wagner

    David Wagner Member

    I want to write a quick update to this post. When I first saw this thread I got excited since I have not previously seen a 41. When the owner posted the auction link I intentionally did not post a comment because I wanted to bid myself.

    I won the auction and received the flag about 2 weeks ago. The front side is significantly sun faded. It is unfortunate but the auctioneer posted an accurate photo so I knew exactly what I was bidding on. Thankfully this thread showed a photo of the flag’s backside and I thought it was something I could work with.

    I received the flag back from the framing shop today. I had it mounted on a black backing with a gold frame and museum glass. The glass has UV protection and I will keep it out of sunlight so fading should no longer be an issue. It looks beautiful!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 1, 2019
  9. David77

    David77 New Member

    Happy for you and the flag!
  10. Dexter Cole

    Dexter Cole Member

    Just gorgeous David, I bet you smile every time you walk by. I looked at the auction just now and the other side really is faded. A warning to us all (who display them) to keep these out of sunlight. I'm glad you got the museum glass too. Well done!

    How was your experience with the auction company? I've looked at some and after you win there's a buyers fee, usually 25%, 7% to use a CC, a separate company that ships. etc
  11. David Wagner

    David Wagner Member

    I had an extremely positive experience with the auction company. In my estimation, about 60 percent of the color is gone from the flag's front side due to sun fading. I don't believe that I would have bid if the auction company's photo was the only photo I saw of the flag. This probably kept others from bidding who may have otherwise been interested. It was the photo at the start of this thread that convinced me to bid. The back is still in good shape and I knew the flag would display well if hung vertically.

    The logistics were otherwise quite simple. I knew about the buyer's fee and mentally took that into consideration when placing my bid. After being notified that I won, I mailed a personal check to avoid the CC fee. I also asked if the auction company could remove the flag from the frame and mail to me directly. It was again the original photo posted on this thread that indicated pretty clearly that this was a simple request. The auction company responded that they would make a one-time exception to their rules and agree to remove the flag from frame and ship to me directly as long as I would sign a waiver that released them from fault should the flag become damaged. I thought this was pretty low risk so I mailed back my waiver and a UPS shipping label back to me. The flag arrived neatly folded in a padded envelop about 3 days later. I brought it to the frame shop that afternoon and picked it up yesterday. I am very pleased with the entire process and outcome.

    The first few flags in my collection I used UV protection glass but I did not spring for the additional cost of museum glass. I regret that now. The museum glass significantly reduces reflection and is so much nicer to view and take photos. All of my original pieces have photos taken from a slight angle so that so that I'm not seen in the reflection of the glass holding the camera. The museum glass allows me to take photos straight on - like the 44 star medallion in my profile picture. So much nicer. I always use the same frame shop and they told me they would only charge the price of the glass to upgrade my previously framed flags to museum glass. The UV protection and museum glass both say that they blocks 99 percent of UV rays. Over time that last 1% will still make a difference. I hang the flags in rooms where they receive no direct sunlight and hope that I am doing better for them than if they remained in a shoebox in my closet.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
  12. Dexter Cole

    Dexter Cole Member

    Thanks David, I'm glad it worked out for you.
  13. kirshmed

    kirshmed New Member

    Very Nice! Glad it worked out for you. Love the new framing.
  14. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Oh, My!

    VERY Nice!!


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