48 Star Antique Flag with Unusually Small Stars | Circa 1896-1912

48 Star Antique Flag
48 Star Antique Flag with Staggered Stars (2).jpg
48 Star Antique Flag
48 Star Antique Flag with Staggered Stars (2).jpg

48 Star Antique Flag with Unusually Small Stars | Circa 1896-1912


Frame Size (H x L): 18.5” x 14”
Flag Size (H x L): 3.5” x 5.5” and Affixed to a 10” Staff

Offered is a forty-eight star parade flag made of glazed cotton.  The staggered stars of this flag are unusually small, so as to almost appear more like dots.  Parade flags were typically used for only a short time at parades, celebrations, rallies, and inaugurations, to name just a few examples.  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.  This flag, for example, 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 Conservation Clear Acrylic (standard) or behind Optium Museum Acrylic (per request).

Frame: This offering is in an antique frame. 

Condition Report: This flag has a small white misprint on its canton.  As is often the case with antique flags, it was cut slightly off-center, such that the bottom stripe is only half a stripe and a portion of another flag is above this flag.  We find these issues to be interesting, in that they indicate the crudeness of early flag making.

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

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