48 Star Flag

Discussion in 'Flag Identification and Collecting' started by dennispippin, Aug 1, 2010.

  1. dennispippin

    dennispippin New Member

    Hello All

    I'm new to this forum and am glad to see people who honor our great flag.

    I have a 48 star flag that was found in a box of yarn that my mother got from the senior center a few years ago. She was going to give it to the VFW to have it properly destroyed and I about had a fit. So she gave it to me to my relief.

    Now I have 2 questions... one, is it worth anything so I can list it in my home owners insurance? The stars are sewn on not embroidered. Two, it is very dirty. The white is almost brown. Is it right to clean it and if so how do I do it with out doing any damage to it.

    It is only for myself and not for sale but like to see it back to beautiful glory. It is otherwise in great shape.

    I have posted pics of the flag and label.

    Attached Files:

  2. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    GREETINGS, DennisPippin !!! :D

    Welcome to the USA-Flag-Site Forums !!! :D

    Judging by the condition that the Flag's label is in (Very sharp & clear), it appears that your Flag might not have ever been washed/cleaned before. Or if it has, then only once or twice, and probably only "hand-washed".


    IMHO - IF you choose to wash your Flag then do so ONLY by hand. Do NOT machine wash it. Use as MILD of a detergent as you can, such as "Woolite". Do NOT put it in a dryer and do NOT hang to dry. Instead, lay it flat on some towels and smooth out any wrinkles without stretching the material.

    Do NOT be surprised if someone here advises you to NOT wash or clean your Flag. There is something to be said about the importance and value of "original condition".

    Your Flag is probably over 50 years old and should be considered an "antique". Judging by what can be seen in the picture you provided, it looks to be in pretty good shape. If you want to keep it that way, treat it gently and, of course, with respect.

    I might be wrong, but I believe that because it's Stars are appliqued and not embroidered it might be closer to 60 or 65 years old. The "down side" (if there is one) is that 48 Star Flags were "official" from July 4th, 1912 to July 3rd, 1959, so there were millions and millions of them made during that time.

    There are some MUCH more experienced and knowledgeable people here than me, so do NOT base any opinions or make any decisions about your Flag on solely on what I've written here.

    If you want to get a sense of your Flag's current "market value" then you might do a search on eBay and/or Google using search terms associated with your Flag (check the Flag's label). Something like : Dettra Bulldog bunting "moth-proof" "48 Stars", etc. Start off simple with something like "American Flag" +Dettra +"48 Stars". If you can't find anything similar to yours listed on eBay, try the "advanced search" mode and select "Completed Listings". If there were any listed, you can find out what the "asking prices" were, and if any were sold, what they were sold for. If you don't find any, be patient and persistent, and keep searching!

    Off the top of my head, I think the 3'x5' 48-Star Dettra U.S. Flags that I've seen on eBay over the past couple of years have ranged from a low of $10-15.00 all the way up to $50-60.00. Perhaps a little higher.

    I hope you'll post a few more pictures of your Flag here. Show us a little more of the "color", construction details, needlework, etc.


    I hope I've been of some small assistance, but remember what I said earlier: there are MUCH more experienced and knowledgeable people here than me who can give you additional information and advice about your Flag !!!

    Thank You for bringing your Flag-related question to our Forums !!!

    Robin Hickman
    Eugene, Oregon, USA
  3. dennispippin

    dennispippin New Member

    Thanks Robin

    Here are some more pics of the construction. The reason I was wanting to clean it is that the stars are white and the stripes are very dingy. Plus all the fold marks from being folded like a bath towel or something. If it should not be cleaned it would at least be nice to get rid of the fold marks.

    It would be nice to see it at it's best. Every time I see a flag it makes my heart swell with pride.


    Attached Files:

  4. dennispippin

    dennispippin New Member

    Only allowed 5 pics here are more of the construction...

    Attached Files:

  5. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    Hi Dennispippin,
    Welcome to the forum! The flag looks like it is in very good shape other than being dirty and Robin has offered some very good advice about cleaning it. While your flag is not rare an appliquéd flag is an example of great American craftsmanship that has slipped into history. I glad your mother decided to give it you to keep.
    Cheers, Mike
  6. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hello, again, Dennis ! :D

    The acknowledged expert here on the USA-Flag-Site Forums on Flag bunting & textiles is "NAVA1974" (AKA : "Nick"). Of all the "regulars" here, HE is the one who would best be able to give you advice regarding the "care & feeding" of your Flag (IMHO). A close 2nd would be Peter Ansoff. Both Peter & Nick are Past Presidents of the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA).

    THANK YOU for providing the additional pictures! :D

    It would appear (to me at least) that your Flag is in excellent condition! I can't tell if the Flag is actually dirty or if it's just the "light & shadows" in the pictures of the "hills & valleys" of the Flag.

    If you choose to NOT wash the Flag, but you still want to get the folds and wrinkles out, use a "steamer" to do so. Do NOT use an iron or steam iron as that would permanently "set" the dirt and stains in the Flag. If you choose to wash/clean the Flag, after drying it FLAT, it should be "okay" as far as the folds and wrinkles are concerned. It might need a light ironing to take care of some of the more "stubborn" ones.

    Of course if you re-fold the Flag to store it, then it will acquire a whole new set of folds! :eek:

    On the other hand, if you choose to mount the Flag in some sort of display case/frame and hang it on the wall FLAT (no folds or wrinkles) then that is a whole different process! In fact it might require some sort of specialized "archival" treatment.

    I'm not trying to scare you or put you off on doing anything of that sort. I'm just trying to give you a bit of a "heads up" on the possibilities. Remember: I'm NO expert on these things! All I'm doing is trying to "repeat" some of the common sense advice I've seen elsewhere in these forums!

    I think that there will be other replies from some of our other members here. Hopefully Nick and Peter will give you (and the rest of us) the benefit of their knowledge and experience.

    STAY TUNED !!! :D

    Robin Hickman
    Eugene, Oregon, USA
  7. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    I appreciate Robin's confidence in my expertise,:eek: but I am not a specialist in cleaning flags. What I can say is that you may find some of the "stains" in the cotton fabric (esp the white stripes) may be permanent discoloration, and no amount of soap or detergent will reverse the process. Bleach :eek: is far too dangerous to use around historic fabrics as it will weaken the area you are trying to clean even if you manage to keep trace amounts from spilling or soaking into the red and blue areas permanently discoloring them. :rolleyes:

    I think Robin's advice to hand wash the flag in Woolite AFTER YOU TEST THE RED AND BLUE AREAS FOR COLOR FASTNESS is the right thing to do. If you don't know the best way to test for color fastness, just google it like I would have to.:D

  8. coasterville

    coasterville Member

    By no means an expert in anything, but just looking at the photos, I'm in the don't clean it camp.

    The photos of the fly end stitching show that it is in excellent shape. I wonder if it just lasted better back then, or your particular flag wasn't flown too much. Some of the white stripes in the photos look to be great, not the yellowed or brown I was expecting from your original post. It's an old flag, and it appears, at least in the photos, to have just the right amount of off coloring to look artistically like a flag from that era.

    It appears to be in such great condition structurally, that I would be afraid of risking the colors running if you tried to wash it.

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