48 star WWII coffin flag

Discussion in 'Flag Identification and Collecting' started by lgwallace, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. lgwallace

    lgwallace New Member

    I am new to this site and I have several questions. I have a 48 star WWII coffin flag that was purchased at an estate sale where there was supposedly no next of kin. How would I find out if there were in fact family members that might want this flag. Or what about the service history of the veteran himself? What is the value of this flag?
     
  2. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Hello and welcome to the American Flag Forum.
    Unfortunately, connecting the flag itself with any particular person will not likely be possible. Unless the flag was in its original box shipped from overseas to the next of kin in the USA, or you got documentation when you bought the flag, I don't see any way you can associate the flag with one of the more than 400,000 US combatants who were killed during the war, nor any of the millions of service men or women who died prior to 1959. 48-star flags were mass produced by the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, and the company name or other info routinely printed on the heading only tells you who made it.

    However, if you assume that the veteran had lived at one time in the location where you bought the flag, you could search back through the property deeds to identify the former owners. With those names you may be able to track down a veteran who lived at that location. If the vet's family moved to that location after the vet's death, then the trail goes cold pretty fast.

    One last note. If the flag is nylon then look for a veteran who passed away in the 1950's. If, like most 48-star internment flags, it is made of cotton, you are back to square one.

    Good luck,
    Nick A
    Columbia Maryland
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
  3. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    Hi Igwallace,
    Welcome to the flag site and I hope I can answer at least one of your questions. The last question first: What is the value of this flag? The term "WWII" is a little ambiguous as did the veteran die in battle or died after the war? During that time the government contracted big flag makers like Valley Forge or Dettra (has since been bought out by Aninn) to make tens of thousands of these 5' x 9 & 1/2' cotton flags. In any case there are thousands of these 48 star coffin/burial flags still around. Does your flag have any labels or markings on the canvas header to give us the name of the company who made it? I have seen on ebay that these flags go anywhere from $10 to $200, the latter being ignorant folks thinking just because it's "old", "big" and it has 48 stars so it must be from WW2 and worth big bucks! The average price is around $40 unless the flag is made of wool which will bump the price up. To answer your first couple of questions, I really have no goods answers. Even today burial flags have no serial numbers or any other means of linking them to the veteran. If you had his name you might be able to locate his service record and order it on line and maybe just maybe it could have a next of kin in it. Or you could try the 1940 census that has just been released and look for his family's household but of course you still need a name. It is very kind of you to try to rejoin the flag with his family. I wish I could be more of a help. Let me know about the flag company who made it.
    Cheers,
    mike
     
  4. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    Hey Nick,
    You beat me to punch! I was just wondering about nylon or rayon blended internment flags. Do you have one or ever seen one? I would love to have one. I forgot to mention that the Philadephia Quartermaster Depot issued burial flags too. These can be indentified by the ink stamp on the header and the lead rings attached on the ends of the canvas header by brass rivets. I don't know if they were issued just during WW2 on the battlefield and later shipped home or after the war when a vet passed away. I have a few of these but they are not as common as the Valley Forge or Dettra. I assumed Aninn made internment flags too but I have never seen a 48 star one. Have you?
     
  5. lgwallace

    lgwallace New Member

    Hey Guys...Thanks for the quick response. The flag is very thick canvas (?) with individually sewn stars and stripes. The edge of the flag has U.S. No. 7 Funeral MI 44 Stamped at the top by the metal rings, which are not brass. It is huge and it is beautiful. The only time I have hung it was during the week after 9-11, and I was careful to research the proper protocol for doing so.
     
  6. lgwallace

    lgwallace New Member

    Also, a friend got the flag in 1989 at an estate sale. The woman who passed was about 85yrs old. and was a friend of his Grandmother, who had been left the property. His Gma said the woman's only son had been killed in WWII, her husband had predeceased her, and there were no known next of kin.
     
  7. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    Hi Igwallace,
    Nice. It sounds like you have a government issue internment flag. Not as common as the regular coffin flag. Could you post us some photos? I can help if want to email them to me at emmalpass(at)yahoo(dot)com and I can upload them.
    Cheers,
    mike
     
  8. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Hello again, lgwallace
    That info on the heading tells you it was made in the flag loft at Mare Island Naval Shipyard on San Francisco Bay in 1944. a fact that could at least double the value of your flag. Mare Island made all the flags used in the Pacific Theater, including the ones rasied on Iwo Jima.

    Nick A
    Columbia MD
     
  9. nyweezie

    nyweezie New Member

    Hi Nick A.,
    I have recently found a flag with the same markings "U.S. No. 7 Funeral MI 44" on it. it has 48 stars and is very heavy. Is there a website that has the codes for the flags? I have no idea where the flag came from but it was with my stuff in storage and I just found it.
    Thanks for your help.
    Louise
    Oakland, NJ
     
  10. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Hello Louise, and welcome to the USA Flag Forum.

    This forum is about the only place you will find info on flag sizes, but there is a Marine Corps booklet that lists the current sizes of flags. It is on page B-1 here: http://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/MCO P10520.3B.pdf

    Another Forum member may have the historic list of ensign sizes that they can post.

    Regards,
    Nick A
     
  11. csaanv

    csaanv Member

    It seems that the Mare Island Depot (MI) was the only governmental depot that consistently stamped their flags throughout WW2. Although, the Philadelphia depot did mark some of their flags but not in a consistent manner. There were numerous "contract" flag manufactures during the War but few of the them stamped their flags like Mare Island. If any one has a depot stamped flag from the WW2 period other than the MI or Phil depots please let me know.
     

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