Rare(?) 40 Star Flag

Discussion in 'Flag Identification and Collecting' started by Pizza Bob, Dec 15, 2009.

  1. Pizza Bob

    Pizza Bob New Member

    Encountered this interesting flag at a Christmas party I attended. I've done some research and I know that there was never officially a 40-star flag. I also found that flag makers often made unofficial versions as states were added. This flag would have only been valid for 6 days in 1889. N & S Dakota were added to the union 11/2/1889 - being the 39th & 40th states. On 11/8/1889 Montana joined the union, making 41 states. I believe others were added before 7/4/1890 when a new official flag would have been issued.

    I have attached pictures of both the entire flag and just the canton. There is glare from ceiling lights, but it would have been worse with a flash. It is layered between glass. The flag body measures appx 46" x 21" irrespective of the fringe (3 sides) which is appx 2" long gold braid. The stars are in a medallion pattern. One central star, surrounded by a ring of twelve stars, with that ring then surrounded by an outer ring of 19 stars and there are 8 stars forming "parentheses" (four to a side) outside the large ring, thus making 40 stars total. The flag is silk and the stars are screened/printed on. The stars are gold with red borders.

    Grateful for any insight on this flag - origins, rarity, etc. Thanks in advance.


    Pizza Bob

    Attached Files:

  2. flagcollector

    flagcollector New Member


    The flag you posted pictures of is exceptionally rare. You are correct that there are very few 40 Star flags in existence. There are some of sewn construction or larger printed flags (several feet), probably 20 or so, known to exist, and probably 10 or so known to exist that are smaller printed parade flags (printed on a thin muslin material). However, this flag, which is gold stars painted on silk, is the only one I know of that is constructed in this way. The double-medallion pattern is very beautiful, and also scarce, and the four stars on each side are very unusual. The size of the flag is also very desirable, given it's small easily displayble size. The construction of the flag, with the fringe border and gold-on-silk stars, is usually found on very high-end flags and usually made for military purposes, such as a presentation color for a standing military unit. This is a great flag, and would hold a place of esteem in even the most advanced flag collections. Don't worry about the loss in the silk. Silk flags from that period were made of "weighted silk", which means that the silk, being sold by weight rather than length, was probably subjected to infusion with mineral salts to make it heavier when sold. Unfortunately, that leads to breakdown in the silk. Many silk flags from that era (including the Civil War and even earlier) are badly deteriorated. This flag is remarkably intact, and if properly pressure mounted, will last for a very long time. It's possible to back the missing portions of the flag with like-colored silk, when the flag is pressure mounted, and that will make it appear whole again, but that's not really necessary unless you prefer that aesthetic; many people like flags that show wear and age. It simply adds character. If the flag is in an adequate pressure mount, which it appears it is, then I would leave it as is. A flag such as this should never be mounted using any kind of adhesive, and if the silk is too brittle, stitching it to a backing would also be detrimental to the flag, so a pressure mount would be the best option. Hope this helps, and the owner of the flag enjoys and appreciates it well. Anthony

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