Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags
Sold Flags


Available: Sold
Frame Size (H x L): 15.25" x 17.25"
Flag Size (H x L): 7.25" x 9.5"
47 star American national flag, a rare star count and especially so on homemade examples, like this one, made of silk with great care and precision. The six-pointed stars are executed with lineal lines like a spokes on a carriage wheel or the rowel of a spur. These are constructed of silk floss on a canton made of blue silk taffeta. The stripes of the flag are made with lengths of silk ribbon that have been joined with treadle stitching.

This is one of the four rare star counts from the late 19th/early 20th centuries. Flags with 40, 41, 43, and 47 stars were made in such scarce quantity because they were only accurate for a matter of days. 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 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.

This is a homemade flag, however, and homemade examples exhibited even more variation because they were completely subject to the whims of the maker. While one might assume that it would be far more likely to find homemade examples of flags with unofficial stars counts, the fact of the matter is that very few flags were homemade by 1912 and homemade 47 star flags are far scarcer than their commercially-made counterparts.

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. Further, so far as I am aware, the 8-6-6-7-6-6-8 arrangement of staggered lineal rows is unique to this flag.

Homemade flags of such small size are gems of the flag-collecting world. Very few flags of any kind were handmade in such a tiny scale. One type, produced between 1898 and 1913 by the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Betsy Ross in Philadelphia and sold to tourists, look strikingly similar to this flag. The primary differences on the Ross granddaughter examples are a star count of 13 in the circular style often attributed to Betsy, the number of points as 5 instead of 6, and the addition of a white binding along the hoist. But in scale and materials this flag is akin to the Ross examples and it seems very likely that the maker of this flag was intimately familiar with those made by the Ross granddaughters, who worked in the east wing of Independence Hall.

In summary, this is a great, tiny, homemade flag in a rare star count, with lovely graphic presence and a star configuration that is unique to this example.

Mounting: The very unusual and interesting frame consists of a circa 1830-1860 banister-turned style, rippled profile molding in sold mahogany, with a convex gilded molding around the outer edge. This is a sandwich mount between 100% hemp fabric and U.V. protective acrylic.
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: Arizona
War Association:
Price: SOLD
E-mail: Inquire

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