Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L):
Flag Size (H x L): 56" x 110"
47 star antique American flag. This is one of four rare star counts from the late 19th/early 20th centuries, which include 40, 41, 43, and 47. Flags with a complement of stars in these counts were made in extremely scarce quantity, because they were accurate such a brief period. New Mexico became the 47th state on January 6th, 1912 and was followed by Arizona on February 14th. Per the Third Flag Act of 1818, Congress decreed that the official new year for the American flag was Independence Day, at which time a star would be added for each new state that had entered the Union over the preceding "flag year." Stars were thus added for the 47th and 48th states on July 4th, 1912. For this reason the 47 star count never became official and was accurate for a mere 38 days.

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 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 often 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, at the time that 47 star flags were likely being made, some flag-makers had already been producing flags in the 48 star count for many years. Examples survive with overprinted dates as early as 1896. By this time 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, which makes them an even greater oddity.

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.

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

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