NEW YORK – the is the only national flag that has actually officially readjusted its design an ext often than any type of other. The 28 different designs phone call the background of a nation that started in transformation nearly 250 years ago. Collecting the American flag is much more than simply counting the stars; the stripes and the fabric are important, too.

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Authenticating a flag the other countries is, at times, dependency on its change in design or color. The national flag that Greece, for example, adjusted its canton and also stripes from irradiate blue to dark blue in the 1960s. Cambodia’s flag can be identified by the number of towers the the temple, Angkor Wat, supplied as a symbol on its flag due to the fact that Independence in 1948. Yet these alters are recognized only v a little bit of research.

The flag the the united States, on the various other hand, has actually the most noticeable changes of any national flag. With the addition of a star because that each new state because its official fostering in 1777, the national flag has readjusted a complete of 28 times. The number the stars ~ above the flag is the crucial to discovering when it was adopted.


Thirteen-star flags usually date to late 19th or beforehand 20th century prefer this inexplicable star pattern that sold for $2,500. It has actually hand-sewn stars (before 1890), however machine-sewn stripes with metal grommets (after 1850). Image courtesy: Cowan’s Auction and also

The Stars

From independence in July 1776 till June 1777, the U.S. Flew an unofficially flag referred to as the cool Union Flag, which had the UK flag (before 1801) in the canton through 13 alternative red and white stripes. As soon as asked because that a naval flag to fly aboard ships once entering foreign harbors, Congress embraced the first Flag Resolution on June 14, 1777 that just stated, “Resolved, the the flag that the 13 United says be 13 stripes, alternating red and also white; that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a brand-new constellation.” that’s it. There to be no typical for how plenty of points in the star, the star pattern, even if it is the stripes to be horizontal or vertical and certainly gave no special an interpretation for the colors.

And so, until 1912 (when the 48-star flag was officially standardization as six rows that eight), stars to be arranged but the manufacturer observed fit while the stripes became consistently horizontal by tradition.

To collectors, the is the number of stars and also the star pattern the determines that is auction value. Many stars were five-pointed (the first country to use this device on a national flag), however some were six-pointed. All stars to be cut and also sewn by hand till the zigzag sewing an equipment was invented about 1890 (stripes to be hand sewn before 1850 and maker sewn ~ that).


Virtually all military and also official federal government flags were made of wool bunting native the 18th through world War II. Displayed are a close-up watch of a 36-star handmade linen U.S. Flag date 1876 (left) and also a later on 50-star noodle flag (right). Photo courtesy: wilhelm J. Jenack Auctioneers and Forsythes’ Auctions LLC

Some star fads were in a circle, rather in a row and even a few in patterns. As long as the flag had the right variety of stars, every were official and also still are. The stars were initially made largely of linen and hand stitched. Cotton wasn’t made commercially available in the U.S. Till after 1810.

If you have actually a 13-star national flag, simply know that one has never been discovered that survived the 18th century. Any type of flag with 13 stars is typically a commemorative-type flag, perhaps from the Centennial era of 1876, or is more likely a U.S. Marine “boat flag” that was officially provided as a naval conventional from 1860 to about 1920.


Curiously, every one of the wool bunting offered to produce the armed forces flags transparent the revolution was imported from an excellent Britain. It is right. Our enemy supplied the product for the signs of U.S. Resistance.

All national flags that the United says were made of a one-ply worsted woolen bunting up through 1940 or so. This permitted for a higher quality, lighter weight construction, was virtually moisture resistant and enabled flags to unfurl much more easily in the wind. Wool to be reserved mainly for military uniforms during human being War II and also so manufacturers turned to cotton for government and also civilian flags. Smaller sized flags to be made from other materials such together silk and muslin, specifically the little parade flags that were fastened to a stick.


To fly a huge flag, a several-ply hemp rope dubbed a halyard to be stitched v a plain weave, rough circuit linen sleeve ~ above the flag well-known as a heading. Later, heavy metal clips hosted the flag to the halyard v hand-sewn eye holes on the hoist finish of the flag before 1850, climate through metal grommets thereafter.


Pictured room three types of flag attachments; an initial is a woven rope enclosed in a sleeve of the heading (left), the second is a hand-sewn eyelet (center) in use until about 1850 when a metal grommet (right) became the norm. Photos courtesy william J. Jenack Auctioneers and an individual collection


When it comes to collecting flags, size matters. Any kind of flag measuring more than 3 feet by 5 feet is more daunting for collectors come display and also is thus not together desirable. Smaller handheld flags sometimes have the exact same value as larger ones, especially if the material, the star pattern and also condition are all extraordinary.

Any flag before and also during the polite War-era (up to 33 stars) are an ext desirable simply because relatively couple of survive in any condition, however the flags of the civil War-era are the most reproduced, especially military unit flags. Flags indigenous the Centennial era the 1876 up through 1896 (34 to 44 stars) have second collector interest; 45- and 46-star flags still carry out well as a 3rd collectible category.


Handmade stars were common throughout the so late 18th and also most that the 19th century up to the civil War-era. On the left is a hand-cut linen star which was sewn through hand till the development of the zigzag sewing an equipment about 1890; the critical is a machine-sewn star. Image courtesy: william J. Jenack Auctioneers and an individual collection

The 48-star flag that 1912 served the 2nd longest at 47 years (the 50-star flag has actually served for practically 60 year to date). It to be the first U.S. Flag to have actually its stars officially i ordered it by statute. Its wool bunting building and construction prevailed indigenous 1912 until 1940 or so v a greatly cotton building and construction thereafter. Depending on condition, a wool 48-star flag usually has a somewhat higher value 보다 a noodle version.

The 49-star flag served for only one year, native 1959 come 1960, and is considered desirable in any size or condition (as long as the stars room intact) through a slightly higher value at auction native the 48-star flag.

A 50-star flag in any type of size is common and also not typically collectible uneven it has actually a historical context, has flown end the White house or Capitol (with initial box and certificate), flown come the moon, or autographed by a president or who of significance. Otherwise, the worth is about $30 come $40 or so, depending on size.

Unlike other collectibles, the problem of a flag is not normally the deciding factor. Instead, the stars play an ext of a central role in that is auction value. If several of the stars are missing, but the stripes room intact, the value would be compromised. The is more desirable to have all the stars intact also if several of the stripes room missing.


The product that was widespread throughout, the means the stars space arranged and also stitched (whether sewn by hand or machine), the type of material in the sleeve, what ply and type of object was used to bland the components together, and also how it was attached come a pole (whether through a rope, hand-sewn eyelets or steel grommet) space the an essential factors to determine when a flag was created.

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These specifications are what separates an really flag indigenous a reproduction. No matter exactly how skillfully a flag was made, the details in its construction will constantly tell the real story. The is therefore important to have actually an professional in textiles verify any historic flag prior to it is auctioned or restored.