U.S. Flag identification if known

Discussion in 'Flag Identification and Collecting' started by Casca, Mar 19, 2007.

  1. Casca

    Casca Guest

    Looking for some answers about an American flag?
    My Grandmother came across an old flag, that had been hidden in the attic in Indiana.
    Just wondering if anybody has some information they would like to share. It is quite a large flag and one of the interesting parts about it has 38 stars, with a larger star making 39 in the middle. There are 7 red stripes and 6 wider white stripes. All the stars are white, except the one larger star than all the rest that is white with a blue solid star in the middle?
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hi, Casca -- That sounds like a very interesting flag!

    The style of having a big star in the middle surrounded by smaller stars was very common in the years before the star pattern was standardized in 1912 (and even after that). Often, this was done when a new state was ready to enter the union. The idea was that the big star represented the new state, and the others the existing states. The style of the blue and white outlines was common in the late 19th century, and is called an "inclined" or "framed" star. If your library has the book "The Stars and Stripes" by Boleslaw and Mastai, check it out -- it has pictures of several examples.

    Your flag is especially interesting because the US flag never officially had 39 stars. The 38 star flag was official from 1877 through 1890. In 1889, everyone was assuming that another star would be added because the Dakota Territory was slated to be come the next state, and many 39 star flags were made in anticipation. However, for political reasons, it was decided that the Dakota Territory would be split into two states, North Dakota and South Dakota. Both of them were admitted to the union on November 2nd, 1889, so the number of states jumped from 38 to 40, skipping 39.

    Just to complicate things, the 39th and 40th stars were not added to the flag until July 4th, 1890, because that's the way the law was written back in 1818. By then *three more* states had been admitted (Montana, Washington and Idaho), so the flag that became official on July 4th 1890 had *43* stars. So, not only was there never an official 39 star flag, but there were never official 40, 41 or 42 star flags either. (Idaho *just* slipped under the wire -- it was admitted on July 3rd, 1890, the day before the new flag became official!)

    I'm no expert, but, if I had to guess, I'd say that your flag might have been made by someone in the Dakota Territory in 1889, to celebrate the territory becoming a state. The unequal stripes suggest that it might have been a homemade effort.

    Hope this information helps . . .


    Peter Ansoff
  3. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    39 star flags

    The 39 star flag was also used during the USA Centennial of 1876. The country had 37 states at the time, but two new states were anticipated and 39 star flags were common. One example identical to one from my collection is shown in the attached picture. It is printed on cotton and has the flags of foreign countries around the border. It also has the patent date of December 1875 printed on the heading, definately pinning the date of this 39-star flag to the Centennial era.

    Attached Files:

  4. Casca

    Casca Guest

    Hopefully this map can be identified and I really appreciate your input about its origins. Here is a very small image of this map, perhaps it will help identify it even more.

    Attached Files:

  5. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    You asked help in identifying a map. Did you mean "flag"? The image was of a USA flag which appeared to have up to 42 stars. One unusual feature was that the blue canton appeared to rest on a red stripe. A few home-made flags from the late 19th Century have this feature. Commercial and military flagmakers did not do this beyond the 1850's. Can you give ME any more info on the flag? Why are you interested? Regards, Nick
  6. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Ah, I just noticed that you started the thread with your question about a 39 star flag. Sorry about that. With 39 stars in the arrangement you described this sounds like a home-made flag to celbrate the 1876 Centennial. The white bordered central star was a feature seen in some printed flags of the 1860's but rarely seen in sewn flags.
  7. Casca

    Casca Guest

    Yes! Sorry! I have a lot to do with historical maps? I'm an old retired Professor of Earth Sciences and so my interest is mainly historical significance. My Grandma's husband passed away just over a year ago and most her family possessions, became my property. She gave me free reign to dig around in the old farm house. Found a big old steamer trunk in the attic and this old flag was stuffed amongst old books in a canvas bag. I have no idea the connection, but her ancestors fought in the Civil War, because I found some early correspondance. A lot of books, but nothing that would identify any relationship with the flag. Have no idea of any association with the Dakota territories?

    I did ask her about the flag, but she seem completely blank on the subject.
    Because of my association with old maps and history and the fact my other Grandfather collected historic cartographic material through his life. His interest certainly rubbed off on me. Of course I wonder if something like an old flag has any value?

    Appreciate everybodies input on this flag.
  8. Casca

    Casca Guest

    My family has asked what this possible 1876 centennial flag is worth to a collector? In addition, where would one go to sell something like this?
  9. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Hello again. Values of antique flags can be very subjective, even with a better picture it would be difficult to pin down the value closer than the range of $300 to $1200. Hand made flags with interesting features like an outline central star add to the value. The blue canton resting on a red stripe add to the value. Physical damage does not always detract from the value, but stains that cannot be removed (other than blood stains from a military flag) can reduce the value. Where to sell it? Try eBay with a reserve price of $1200, or consign it to an auction house that specializes in antique flags like Cowans or Early American. You can also contact Jeff Bridgman American Antiques one of the few antique dealers who speciallizes in antique American flags and he may very well make an offer. If you would like to donate it to a flag collector who uses his antique flags to inform children and adults on the significance and history of our flag, contact yours truly.
  10. VikaKorvet

    VikaKorvet Guest

    hi here, i'm back :)

    all greetings.
    at last that i have returned on our forum. all who remembers me - write, we shall communicate (name practically :) same, will guess). whats a new here? Jony where re u? we had so much fun...lol......
  11. alot of the people that used to be on this forum have left. myself and peter ansoff seem to be the most regular visitors to tis site- certainly the ones who answer the threads!
    we are both vexillologists and very interested in flags... hes older than i am and has far more knowledge of flags than me but ill catch him up one day!
    asl?? im 23 female from England
  12. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Welcome back, Vika! As Amanda said, she and I seem to be the only ones who are posting here regularly, and none of the administrators appear to be active any more. Maybe you could tell us about how the forum got started.


    Peter Ansoff

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