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In 1912, President Taft passed an executive order that dictated, for the first time, an official design for the star field on the American flag. This consisted of 6 rows of 8 stars, perfectly lined up, with all stars pointing upward (one point skyward) and having a specified shape (5-pointed). Before 1912, 48 star flags were sometimes produced in anticipation of the future addition of New Mexico and Arizona. These flags typically have 6 staggered rows of 8 stars, all pointing upward. In 1913, many dated 48 star flags are seen with this staggered row design. Such flags were probably printed before Taft's order came into effect, and were not discarded after the fact. Some were undoubtedly overprinted with dates and advertising in 1913. This particular example, printed on cotton, does not have either one of the two typical star configurations. It has in 6 rows of 8 stars, with very narrow arms, that alternate point-up, point-down. When the position of each star on its vertical axis varies consistently like this, it creates a characteristic that I term �dancing� or �tumbling�. Note how the stars are so large with respect to the size of the canton that the arms had to be placed in-between one-another. Together these factors contribute a nice blend of folk features to the overall design. To the best of my knowledge, two small groups of these flags have surfaced and they are especially rare. Based on extensive experience with printed parade flags, and comparison to many other known examples, my educated guess is that this variety actually dates to the tail end of the 19th century, more than 12 years before we actually had 48 states. There were 4 more Western Territories yet to be added and it was well known that they would eventually gain statehood. From the Civil War onward, it was actually common for flag-makers to produce flags with anticipatory counts that included more stars than the official number of states. Both printed and sewn 48 star flags are known with overprinted, hand-written, or embroidered dates as early as 1896. A similar, 46 star style of parade flag is known with overprinted dates of 1899, more than 7 years before the 46th state was added. This particular variety of 48 star parade, with its pointy, tumbling stars, seems as early or even potentially earlier than the similar 46 star style. I suspect that it was made between 1896 and 1900. Within this narrow window, the most likely purpose would be to celebrate the end of the Spanish-American War between 1898 and 1899. A Survey of Other 48 Star Parade Flags: Among printed cotton and silk parade flags, a number of others are known that vary from the norm, all of which fall between very scarce and exceptionally rare. A silk variety is known that has stars that tilt to one side. Well more than 100 of these are known, but they are certainly very scarce. A cotton variety is known with staggered rows of upside-down stars. Their position may be unintentional, the maker having mistakenly placed the print block in an upside-down position. Whatever the case may be, the feature is rare in printed parade flags with 48 stars. Another style, known as the Whipple pattern, has an elaborate variation of a medallion design with a 6-pointed "Great Star" configuration in the center, formed from 13 stars, surrounded by a tightly spaced wreath of 25 stars, surrounded by a widely spaced wreath of 10 stars. This style is rare, beautiful, and highly sought-after. Both silk and cotton examples exist. Other cotton varieties are known with circular patterns, all of which are extremely rare. One variety is presently unique among known examples. It has 6 rows of 8 stars, each of which have 8 points. These interesting deviations from the official 48 star design create a great scavenger hunt for the advanced collector, even though the prices generally range in the beginner to intermediate range. Mounting: The solid walnut molding dates to the period between 1860 and 1890. A modern, hand-gilded and distressed Italian liner was married to this early frame. The flag has been stitched to 100% hemp fabric. Spacers were used to keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass.
Inventory Number:


Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, llc
Contact   Jeff Bridgman Phone: (717) 502-1281
Period: 1st Half 20th Century (1901 -1949)
Date: 1913 or Prior
Condition: There is minor foxing and staining, a minor misprint in the canton, and very tiny holes where the flag was tacked to its original staff. The flag presents beautifully and the condition is excellent in light of its rarity.
Measurements: Frame: 21.5" x 31.5" Flag: 14.5" x 24.25"
Inventory Other Inventory by this Dealer
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
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