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39 Star American Flag - 19th C - Americana - Silk Parade Flag with Rare Unofficial Star Count
Wonderful old silk Parade Flag with an unofficial star count... what does this mean? Well, beginning in 1818, the US began to add a star to the Canton or Union (blue field) for each new state admitted to the Union, and although statehood is granted on admission, the flag is changed only once a year when the new count becomes 'official' on the following 4th of July.
Thirty nine star flags are rare, they were only produced during two very brief periods in US history. First from 1875 - 1876 when the official star count was 37 and flag makers anticipated the admission of New Mexico and Colorado. However, only Colorado's bid for statehood was successful which made the 38 star flag 'official' on July 4, 1877. Flag manufacturers produced 39 star flags again in 1889 with the anticipation of the admission of the Dakota Territories as one state. However, the Dakotas were admitted as two states, making the provisional star count 40, which actually never became an 'official' count either because there were three more states (Montana, Washington, and Idaho) admitted before July 4th, 1890 when the official count became 43 stars.
So the production of this flag can be dated to the period from 1875 - 1876 prior to Colorado's admission on August 1, 1876, or in 1889 prior to the admission of North Dakota and South Dakota on November 2, 1889.
Printed flags became popular after 1840 and were generally used as hand-wavers. Today, they are highly desirable because of their small size since they are easy to display. In fact, many serious collectors specialize in printed parade flags.
CONDITION is as shown. This flag is in wonderful condition, better than most, with no splits to the fragile silk, and virtually no yellowing. However, there are some light gray marks at the bottom of the Canton, below that on the bottom two stripes, and in the upper right striped quadrant. The flag is stitched to the backing at the four corners and center top, not glued, although I have not had the frame open. Wooden frame with plexiglas or Lexan. 29 1/2" x 19 3/4" overall (including frame). The flag measures approximately 24 1/2" x 14 1/2".
This is a lively flag, its stars arranged in six horizontal rows of 6-7-7-6-7-6 with every other star canted at an angle which creates a spirited field of 'dancing' stars. Old Glory is a beloved and powerful symbol, instantly recognizable through all her historical changes. Long may she wave!
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Marni Bakst, Verbank, NY
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