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48 STARS, THE EARLIEST KNOWN DATED EXAMPLE IN THIS STAR COUNT, WITH AN 1896 OVERPRINT FOR A REUNION OF BERDAN'S SHARPSHOOTERS

Web ID: 48c-801
Available: In Stock
Frame Size (H x L): 9.5" x 11.5"
Flag Size (H x L): 4" x 5.75"
 
Description:
48 star American national parade flag, printed on silk, with an overprint for a reunion of Berdan’s Sharpshooters. This was the famous Civil War regiment that claims to have killed more Confederate officers than any other. The text reads as follows: “1896; July 29, 30 and 31; Berdan’s U.S. Sharpshooters, At the residence of Eli Cook, Eaton Rapids, Michigan.”

Veteran's flags that feature overprinted text with unit identification are highly unusual. This is one of the only known styles and only 2 examples of it are known. The other resides in the collection of Richard Pierce and is featured in his book "The Stars & The Stripes: Fabric of the American Spirit" (self-published, 2005), p. 39.

The flag has 48 stars with staggered rows, which never became the official pattern for this star count. This is the earliest overprint I have ever seen on a 48 star parade flag, although I have seen other staggered row 48 star parade flags with pencil dating and overprints as early as 1898, 1901, 1903, and 1904. The presence of so many 48 star flags, long before they were supposed to exist, is evidence of the great speculation and anticipation that was present concerning the addition of the remaining Western Territories. This situation occurred with many other star counts, such as 39, 42, and even 46. I have owned 46 star parade flags with 1899 and 1900 overprinted dates, 6-7 years before the 46th star should have been present. That is consistent with the theory that many star counts were being used before the states were actually added.

Some 44 star parade flags exist with notched patterns, leaving 4 open spaces for the addition of Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona. Many 45 star flags exist that have with “three notches, and 46 star parade flags exist with two notches. These clearly indicate that flag makers knew as early as 1890 that 4 more states were coming. Some flag makers were apparently more confident than others and simply added 3 additional stars as early as 1896.

There are also numerous flags with hand-written dates earlier than when the number of stars on the flag were official. In my opinion there was no great motivation to fake most of these that I have seen, many of which had notations that were for personal and sentimental reasons and lacked wide marketability. If they were much earlier flags, had other suspicious attributes, or if they were simply too good to be true, there would be good reason to ponder. But they are flags that, until recently, had no significant value on the open market.

Mounting: The unusual, veneered maple frame dates to the mid-19th century. The flag has been stitched to 100% cotton twill, black in color, which was washed to reduce excess dye. An acid-free agent was added to the wash to further set the dye and the fabric was heat-treated for the same purpose. Spacers keep the textile away from the glazing, which is U.V. protective glass.

Condition: There are no significant condition issues.
   
Collector Level: Advanced Collectors and the Person with Everything
Flag Type: Parade flag
Star Count: 48
Earliest Date of Origin: 1896
Latest Date of Origin: 1896
State/Affiliation: Michigan
War Association: 1861-1865 Civil War
Price: Please call (717) 676-0545 or (717) 502-1281
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com


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