48 Star Antique Parade Flag with Staggered Star Pattern | Circa 1896-1918

48 Star Antique Flag - BONSELL | AMERICANA
IMG_4386.JPG
IMG_4386 - Copy.JPG
48 Star Antique Flag - BONSELL | AMERICANA
IMG_4386.JPG
IMG_4386 - Copy.JPG

48 Star Antique Parade Flag with Staggered Star Pattern | Circa 1896-1918

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Frame Size (H x L): 21” x 14”
Flag Size (H x L): 6” x 9” and Affixed to a 16” Staff 

Offered is a forty-eight star parade flag made of glazed cotton.  Parade flags were typically used for only a short time at parades, celebrations, rallies, and inaugurations, to name just a few examples. 

The canton of this flag is cornflower blue.  In June of 1777, the Continental Congress passed the First Flag Act, which said the following: Resolved, That the Flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.  While this specified the number of stripes and the colors of the flag, it did not specify the exact shades of each color.  The exact shades were not officially specified until 1934.     

The forty-eight star flag represents the inclusion of New Mexico and Arizona to the Union.  New Mexico was admitted on January 6th, 1912, and Arizona was admitted on February 14th, 1912.  The forty-eight star flag became official on July 4th, 1912.  Presidents Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower all served under this flag.  World Wars I and II, and the Korean War were all fought under it. 

Until 1912, flag makers were free to arrange the stars on a flag’s canton in any manner they liked.  For example, this flag has a staggered star pattern, in that the rows are laterally offset relative to one another.  However, on June 24th, 1912, President Taft issued Executive Order 1556, specifying that the star arrangement on forty-eight star flags should be a rectilinear 8-8-8-8-8-8 pattern.  It also specified the proportions of forty-eight star flags.  

Because flag makers had a great deal of freedom in how they made flags prior to this Executive Order, many forty-eight star flags do not have a linear and horizontal arrangement, particularly those made in the late 19th century and into the teens (i.e., up to WWI).  We note the 19th century, because many antique flags are anticipatory in nature.  Flag makers would regularly anticipate how many states would be added, and when they would be added.  By the late 1890s, flag makers began anticipating and offering a forty-eight star flag.  To support this notion, many antique flags have been shown in early photographs dating to the 1890s, or include 1890s dates printed directly thereon.       

The forty-eight star flag was official for forty-seven years up until July 4th, 1959, the time at which the forty-nine star flag became official and began to represent the inclusion of Alaska in the Union.

Conservation Process: This flag was hand sewn to cotton fabric, and both were hand sewn to a mounting board.  To prevent the black dye in the cotton fabric from seeping into the flag, it was first washed in a standard wash and then in a dye setting wash.  The flag is positioned behind a UV resistant acrylic, and spaced apart therefrom using spacers.  The frame is gold in color and highly distressed.  

Condition Report: This flag is slightly faded, but still very attractive.  Many collectors prefer flags that show their use and age.

Collectability Level: The Good – Perfect for Beginning Collectors and Gifts
Date of Origin: 1896-1912
Number of Stars: 48
Associated War: WWI
Associated State: Arizona  

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