|47 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG WITH ZIGZAGGING ROWS, AN EXTREMELY SCARCE EXAMPLE, IN AN UNUSUALLY MANAGEABLE SIZE AMONG ITS KNOWN COUTERPARTS; AN UNOFFICIAL STAR COUNT, 1912, NEW MEXICO STATEHOOD
|Frame Size (H x L):||Approx. 53.5" x 92"|
|Flag Size (H x L):||41.5" x 80"|
|47 star American national flag. This is one of four rare star counts from the late 19th/early 20th centuries, which include 40, 41, 43, and 47. Flags in these star counts were made in such scarce quantity because they were accurate such a brief period. Because New Mexico became the 47th state on January 6th, 1912, and was followed by Arizona on February 14th, the 47 star count never became official and was accurate for a mere 38 days.
Per the Flag Act of 1818, Independence Day was designated as the official new year for the American. This meant that on July 4th of each year, a star would thus be added for each new state that had entered the Union over the preceding "flag year." Stars were added for the New Mexico and Arizona on July 4th, 1912, increasing the official count from 46 to 48. This total persisted July 4th, 1959, when a star was added for Alaska.
Despite the unofficial status and the narrow window in which we had 47 states, some commercial flag-makers did produce 47 star flags, either under special order for use in the celebration of New Mexico’s statehood, or as novelties, or in anticipation of the addition of the state sometime prior to 1912. During the second half of the 19th century it became rather common for flag-makers to add stars to the flag before territories had actually gained statehood. Flag-makers generally cared far less about what was official and considerably more about what would sell. Unless they were producing flags under a specific contract, flag-makers would add a star as soon as the state was added, or beforehand in hopeful anticipation of a forthcoming change and a corresponding jump in the demand for new flags. In fact, when New Mexico gained statehood, some flag-makers had already been producing 48 star flags for many years. I have seen 48 star examples with overprinted dates as early as 1896. By this time a finite number of Western Territories remained and it was well known that they were destined for statehood. This fact would have generally diminished the propensity to anticipatory flags with 47 stars.
It is unfortunately common to find commercially-made flags where an inspired forger has decided to remove a star from a flag with a common star count, in order to arrive at a count that is rare. In the case of this example, the pattern and star count are both original and deliberate.
The canton and stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting that has been pieced and joined with machine stitching. The stars are made of cotton and are double-appliquéd (applied to both sides) with a zigzag machine stitch. There is a heavy, sailcloth canvas sleeve along the hoist, with two brass grommets. Note the blue filament woven into this fabric, which aided in the visual determination of lengths of this material as it came off the bolt. Brown cotton shoe laces were tied in each grommet so that it could be affixed to a wooden staff.
The initials "W.E.T." were inscribed along the hoist with a dip pen. These would represent the initials of a former owner--likely the original owner and it was common to mark flags in this fashion in the 19th and early 20th centuries to indicate ownership. Unfortunately the flag retains no specific history and while some basic investigation was undertake, the initials do not seem to match anyone of historic importance to 1912-era New Mexico history and are too generic to warrant further research. The presence of the inscription is a nice feature, however, even if not an especially valuable one.
Mounting: The flag has not yet been mounted.
Condition: There is a minor hole at the extreme fly end of the 1st stripe. There are very minor holes in the 2nd-6th stripes and at the extreme hoist end of the last stripe. There is an extremely minor amount of foxing and staining in limited areas. The overall condition is nothing short of excellent for a wool flag of this period. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use.
|Collector Level:||Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything|
|Flag Type:||Sewn flag|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1912|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1912|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|