Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
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  47 STARS, AN UNOFFICIAL COUNT, 1912, NEW MEXICO STATEHOOD

Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L):
Flag Size (H x L): 56" x 110"
Description....:
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 stars 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, followed by Arizona on February 14th, the 47 star count never became official and was accurate for a mere 38 days. The official new year for the American flag was Independence Day, at which time a star would be added for each new state that entered the Union over the preceding "flag year." Stars were thus added for the 47th and 48th states on July 4th, 1912, and 48 would remain the official star count until 1959, when Alaska joined the Union.

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 47th state sometime prior to 1912. Since 1860 it had been common for flag-makers to add stars to the flag before territories had actually gained statehood. During the second half of the 19th century, 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 anticipation of the forthcoming change and a corresponding jump in the demand for new flags. In fact, some flag-makers had already been producing 48 star flags for many years. I have seen 48 star flags with overprinted dates as early as 1896. This is because a finite number of Western Territories remained and it was well known that all were destined for statehood. This fact would have further diminished the desire to produce 47 star flags.

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.

Construction: 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 sailcloth canvas sleeve along the hoist with two brass grommets.

Mounting: The flag has not yet been mounted. We employ professional staff with masters degrees in textile conservation and can attend to all of your mounting and framing needs.

Condition: There are very minor holes, but the flag survives in a generally excellent state of preservation for a wool flag of this period. Many of my clients prefer early flags to show their age and history of use. Further, the extreme scarcity warrants almost any condition.
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Sewn flag
Star Count: 47
Earliest Date of Origin: 1912
Latest Date of Origin: 1912
State/Affiliation: New Mexico
War Association:
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire
 

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