Unusual 48 star flag

Discussion in 'Flag Identification and Collecting' started by nels, Dec 1, 2010.

  1. nels

    nels New Member

    Hi - I've recently acquired a very unusual 48 star flag. Unlike the usual layout of star, it has a large center 6 pointed star in a 13 star circle and a 22 star outer circle around that and 3 stars filling in each corner. It appears to have had considerable wear, but I am not sure if it ever had an official purpose. I can't find any information of an official flag with larger number of stars that was not in the matrix formation. Any ideas?:confused:

    Attached Files:

  2. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    Hello nels, and Welcome to the USA Flag Forum.:D

    That is a beautiful example of an early 48-star flag. Although that is a scarce pattern for a 48-star flag, arrangements like that were not at all uncommon during the 1800's. To see a few examples please take a look at my Flickr photo collection:
    American Flag Star Patterns - a set on Flickr

    The arrangement of stars in the canton was unregulated until 1912 when President Taft issued an executive order specifying how the stars were to be arranged on government purchased flags. Since the government was the largest customer for flags, all commercial flagmakers soon fell into line. It is only home-made flags like yours that continued to show innovative arrangements.

    Is the central star on your flag the only one that is sewn into place? The others appear to be painted on. Does the back side look like the front?

  3. nels

    nels New Member

    Great photos on Flickr, Nick! Very educational and quite a variety. I'll check the specifics and dimensions of my flag tomorrow and send in a followup post. I have an antique auction house and this and a couple of other flags (45 star, an unusual numerical 1943 naval flag with 5 sewn on crosses on a white background from Mare Island plus an unopened bundle of Centennial 13 star tiny parade flags) came in for our big January 1 sale. I was fascinated by the unusual arrangement in the canton and found this site in my inquiries. I see the term "Parade flag" used alot with this type of flag - is that because of its more decorative nature and the home made qualities as opposed to one that fits proper governmental standards? I truely appreciate your help and friendliness.

  4. nels

    nels New Member

    Additional pictures of Wreath pattern 48 star flag - The center 6 pointed star is sewn on, one on each side of the flag. the others are painted - looks almost like a batik style painting relief. The flag has no grommets - it is cloth ties. The flag itself appears to be machine stitched. It is 40" X 86" in length.
    From what I have learned on this site, this is not proportional for a governmental flag, and with the unusual arrangement, definitely a home made piece. Both sides are finished - the center star stitching is slightly off as each side seems to have been added separately.
    With the 48 stars starting in 1912 and the official matrix style being decreed in 1912 as well, would you guess this to be of that era? Fabric and age certainly reflect early 1900s work. Was it still common to have parade flags after the 1912 date with different arrangements?
    Thanks again for your information. I am supposedly getting a 37 star flag in on Tuesday - can't wait!

    Attached Files:

  5. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    By the 20th century mass production of flags definately reduced the need for home made examples. Home made 48 star flags are scarce but they were made especially in light of the USA's participation in World War I. I doubt that many would have been made for the country's 150'th birthday in 1926, but WW II examples surface as made on the "homefront."

    48 star flags were also common prior to NM and AZ becoming states. I have examples of postcards showing photos of actual mass produced printed flags with the 48 stars in staggered rows and the cards are postmarked 1909 or 1910. I believe this practice began in 1898 when we had 45 states. After we won Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Phillippines in the SpanAm war I think flagmakers added stars for those potential states. There are far too many staggered row 48 star flags remaining today for them all to have been made in 1912 before Taft issued his executive order.

    I think you could truly date that flag from 1900 to 1918 and have a good argument for any date in that range.

    Regarding parade flags, we are talking about the little "hand-waver" flags like the dozen you have with the 8 stars in a circle, one in the middle,and one in each of the 4 corners, like the ones shown here:
    13 Star stick flags | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    These flags were common into the early 20th C. The design only appears in the National Flag Company catalog circa 1914, and they were used to commemmorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1913:
    1913 Gettysburg Reunion Mini 13 star flag | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    but I don't see that pattern used after WW I.


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