|43 STAR ANTIQUE AMERICAN FLAG, ONE OF THE RAREST STAR COUNTS AMONG SURVIVING AMERICAN FLAGS OF THE 19TH CENTURY, REFLECTS THE ADDITION OF IDAHO IN 1890, ACCURATE FOR JUST 7 DAYS
|Frame Size (H x L):||[unframed]|
|Flag Size (H x L):||92.5" x 137"|
|Numerous flags appeared with unofficial star counts in early America, some of them produced by flag-makers in large quantity in anticipation of the addition of more states. Interestingly enough, other flags were officially adopted by the United States Congress, but for all practical purposes were never produced. Among these is the 43 star flag, which reflects the addition of Idaho. A tiny handful of flags with this star count are known, but they are among the most rare of all examples throughout American history. To understand why, one may turn back the clock to the 1876 and examine flag production from that year until the addition of the 44th state.
After the Flag Act of 1818, the official “flag year” began every July 4th. So on Independence Day, all states having been added to the Union over the previous year were officially given a star. Makers of flags, however, did not wait for July 4th and official star counts. Flag-making was a competitive industry and many manufacturers added stars before new states were actually added, wishing to create a reason for consumers to buy new flags and one-up each other in sales.
In 1876 the 37 star flag was official, but on August 1st we received our 38th state. Many flag-makers abandoned the 37 star flag when production began for the Centennial International Exposition, a six-month long World's Fair held in Philadelphia as the first of its kind in America, which served as the nucleus for celebrations of our 100-year anniversary of independence from Britain. In that year 38 stars was a common choice, but other flag-makers actually skipped past 38 all-together, choosing to instead produce 39 star flags, anticipating the addition of the Dakota Territory as one state.
Seeing that Dakota wasn't coming, production after 1876 seems to have reverted to the 38 star count. Then in 1889, thirteen years later, 39 star flags were once again manufactured with the anticipation of Dakota's statehood. On November 2nd of that year, a surprise was lay in store for the makers of 39 star flags, when the Dakotas arrived as two different states, which forever rendered 39 star flags both inaccurate and unofficial. Just a few days later, on November 8th, Montana entered the Union as the 41st state, followed by Washington State as number 42 just three days hence on November 11th.
40 star flags were made in limited quantity, reflecting the Dakotas entry. This count is extremely scarce, but not exceptionally rare. Perhaps this is because some flag-makers anticipated the number correctly, and so some of the 40's are anticipatory flags.
41 star flags, by contrast, are among the rarest that exist in 19th century America. This was a 3-day flag and an increase ending in a count of 41 seems to not have been guessed.
In stark contrast, 42 star flags are common. These reflect the four new states that arrived in that week-and-a-half period between November 2nd and the 11th. For the next seven-eight months flag-makers seem to have favored this star count, producing many of them, probably with great enthusiasm for a reason to make new flags.
Just one day before the 42 star flag would have become official, on July 3rd, 1990, Idaho snuck in as the 43rd state, which rendered all of the 42 star flags forever unofficial. The 43 star flag became official on July 4th, but flag-makers basically skipped over the 43 star count entirely. This is because on July 10th, just 7 days after Idaho gained statehood, Wyoming was admitted. Practically all flag-makers seem to have predicted this and 43 star flags, while official for one year, were overlooked in favor of those with a count of 44 to add Wyoming as well. For all practical purposes, 43 star flags were not made. Only a tiny handful survive, perhaps fifteen or so at the most. Of these, three are printed parade flags (a.k.a., "hand-wavers"), while the remainder are larger, pieced-and-sewn examples. I have been privileged to own more than half of these.
The stars are made of cotton, hand-sewn, and double-appliquéd (applied to both sides). These are arranged in rows of 9-8-9-8-9. American national flags in any star count, with rows of 9 stars, are exceptionally rare. I have seen only a handful of examples.
The canton and stripes of the flag are made of wool bunting that has been joined with treadle stitching. Because blue wool bunting was only available in a width of 18”, multiple lengths were necessary complete the canton. Three were employed to construct this particular flag.
The small rectangular patches of wool at the top (applied to the reverse) and bottom (applied to the obverse) are called gussets. These were included for reinforcement and are original to the flag’s construction. There is a twill woven binding along the hoist, applied by treadle machine, with 2 brass grommets, one at the extreme top and bottom. The name “Baker” was inscribed in grease pencil of crayon, on the reverse. This would represent the name of a former owner. 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 the surname is too generic to warrant further research.
Mounting: The flag is not yet mounted or framed. Condition: There are minor holes throughout, many of which were repaired by darning, probably in the period of the flag’s use. There is a bit of wear in the top. Fly end corner. Two of the stars on the obverse have experienced breakdown and there is a tiny hole with bleaching around its edge between the last two stars in the 4th row. There is a rectangular area of modest soiling in both the canton and below it, in the striped field. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. The extreme rarity of this star count warrants almost any condition.
|Collector Level:||Flags for the truest Patriots. My best offerings|
|Flag Type:||Sewn flag|
|Earliest Date of Origin:||1889|
|Latest Date of Origin:||1889|
|War Association:||1866-1890 Indian Wars|
|Price:||Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281|