Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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44 STARS CONFIGURED INTO THE LETTERS “U.S.”, PATENTED IN 1890 BY W.R. WASHBURN, ONE OF ONLY FOUR KNOWN SURVIVING EXAMPLES AND ONE OF THE BOLDEST DESIGNS KNOWN TO EXIST IN EARLY FLAGS

Web ID: 44j-816
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 80.5" x 127.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 74" x 120"
 
Description:
Extremely rare 44 star American national flag with its stars arranged to spell “U.S.”. This is one of only four presently known examples in this unique and graphically imposing style. I have been privileged to handle three of these four, all of which are in the same basic scale, measuring approximately six by ten feet.

A patent for this design was issued to William R. Washburn of Plymouth, Massachusetts on August 12th, 1890. The patent date is stenciled in black along the reverse of the hoist binding. Washburn’s drawing that accompanied the pattern actually assigned a state to each star, though in no apparent order. This begins with the State of Maine in the upper left. Texas is represented by the period after the letter “U” and California by the one after the letter “S”. New York is near the top of the “U”.

The 44th state, Wyoming, gained its statehood on July 10th, 1890, prior to the patent's issue date. It is of interest to note that Washburn's drawing shows only 42 stars, omitting both Wyoming and Idaho, which had entered the Union on July 3rd, 7 days prior to Wyoming and just one day before the turn of the official "flag year". Stars were officially added to the flag on Independence Day for whatever number of states entered the Union over the preceding year.

A total of 5 states in total entered between July 4th, 1889 and July 3rd, 1890, which meant that 5 new stars were added to the flag, raising the official star count from 38 to 43. This meant that 42 would never become an official star count, but it most certainly reflected the number of states in the Union when Washburn's drawing was sent to the patent office by his attorney, Charles F. Perkins. All 4 of the actual surviving examples of the Washburn flags have 44 stars. It does not appear that he ever updated the patent, though perhaps there was no need to do that, since the growth of the nation was fairly certain and the need to add stars was implied.

The 44 star flag became official on July 4th, 1991 and was generally used until the admission of Utah on January 4th, 1896.

Only four commercially-produced designs are known to exist among early flags in which the stars are configured into letters or numeric characters. One of the others includes both 35 and 36 variations of the same style, with their stars arranged to spell the word "FREE." Another has 38 stars arranged into the date "1776" along the top of the canton, with 43 additional stars below arranged to form the date "1876." The last bears 48 stars arranged to form "U.S.A."

Only four commercially-produced designs are known to exist among early flags in which the stars are configured into letters or numeric characters. One of the others includes both 35 and 36 variations of the same style, with their stars arranged to spell the word "FREE." Another has 38 stars arranged into the date "1776" along the top of the canton, with 42 additional stars below arranged to form the date "1876." The last bears 48 stars arranged to form the acronym "U.S.A."

The 44 star "U.S." variety is by far the largest of all the known styles. The bold impact of the star pattern places it firmly among the best of all known examples. While none of the flags in this format has yet been documented in any text, a reference to the exact pattern appears on a printed paper souvenir that was produced for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition (Chicago World’s Fair). It may be that the design was produced by Washburn specifically for the World’s Fair. A printed image of the souvenir is also included.

The stars of the flag are made of heavy grade, felted wool, which is highly unusual. I have seen this fabric used on 20th century examples on rare occasion, but never in a 19th century flag. The stars are double-appliquéd (applied to both sides) with treadle stitching. The canton and stripes of the flag are constructed of treadle-sewn wool bunting, and there is a wide canvas sleeve, through which a looped, braided hemp rope was threaded and stitched firmly into place.

The 44th state, Wyoming, gained its statehood on July 10th, 1890. The 44 star flag was official from 1891-1986.

Mounting: The flag has been hand-stitched to 100% silk organza for support throughout. It was then hand-stitched to a background of black wool with a twill weave. The black fabric was washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. The mount was placed on a supportive framework and housed in a welded aluminum frame with a satin black powder-coated finish. The glazing is plexiglas.

Condition: There is a tiny amount of mothing, but the overall condition is extraordinary.
   
Collector Level: Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 44
Earliest Date of Origin: 1890
Latest Date of Origin: 1890
State/Affiliation: Wyoming
War Association: 1866-1890 Indian Wars
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com


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