NEW YORK – the is the only nationwide flag that has officially readjusted its design more often than any other. The 28 various designs call the background of a nation that began in change nearly 250 year ago. Collecting the American flag is more than just counting the stars; the stripes and also the fabric are important, too.

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Authenticating a flag of other nations is, in ~ times, dependent on its change in design or color. The nationwide flag the Greece, because that example, adjusted its canton and stripes from light blue come dark blue in the 1960s. Cambodia’s flag can be identified by the number of towers of the temple, Angkor Wat, offered as a symbol on its flag since Independence in 1948. However these alters are known only through a little bit of research.

The flag that the unified States, ~ above the other hand, has actually the most noticeable transforms of any national flag. With the enhancement of a star for each brand-new state since its official fostering in 1777, the nationwide flag has adjusted a total of 28 times. The number the stars top top the flag is the key to discovering when it to be adopted.


Thirteen-star flags usually day to so late 19th or beforehand 20th century prefer this unusual star sample that marketed for $2,500. It has hand-sewn stars (before 1890), yet machine-sewn stripes with metal grommets (after 1850). Photo courtesy: Cowan’s Auction and

The Stars

From independence in July 1776 until June 1777, the U.S. Flew an unofficially flag called the grand Union Flag, which consisted of the UK flag (before 1801) in the canton with 13 alternating red and white stripes. Once asked for a marine flag to paris aboard ships when entering international harbors, Congress embraced the very first Flag Resolution on June 14, 1777 that just stated, “Resolved, the the flag that the 13 United says be 13 stripes, alternative red and white; the the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a brand-new constellation.” that’s it. There to be no conventional for how plenty of points in the star, the star pattern, whether the stripes were horizontal or vertical and also certainly offered no special an interpretation for the colors.

And so, until 1912 (when the 48-star flag was officially standardized as 6 rows the eight), stars were arranged yet the manufacturer experienced fit if the stripes became consistently horizontal through tradition.

To collectors, that is the variety of stars and the star pattern that determines that auction value. Many stars to be five-pointed (the first country to usage this machine on a national flag), however some to be six-pointed. Every stars were cut and sewn through hand until the zigzag sewing machine was invented about 1890 (stripes to be hand sewn before 1850 and device sewn after ~ that).


Virtually every military and also official government flags to be made of structure bunting indigenous the 18th through human being War II. Shown are a close-up see of a 36-star handmade linen U.S. Flag dated 1876 (left) and also a later on 50-star noodle flag (right). Photo courtesy: william J. Jenack Auctioneers and Forsythes’ Auctions LLC

Some star trends were in a circle, others in a row and even a couple of in patterns. As long as the flag had actually the right number of stars, all were official and also still are. The stars were initially made largely of linen and also hand stitched. Noodle wasn’t do commercially available in the U.S. Until after 1810.

If you have a 13-star nationwide flag, simply know the one has actually never been discovered that endured the 18th century. Any type of flag through 13 stars is normally a commemorative-type flag, maybe from the Centennial era the 1876, or is an ext likely a U.S. Marine “boat flag” the was officially used as a naval typical from 1860 to about 1920.


Curiously, all of the wool bunting used to manufacture the army flags transparent the change was imported from great Britain. It is right. Our opponent supplied the material for the signs of U.S. Resistance.

All nationwide flags of 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 practically moisture resistant and permitted flags to unfurl much more easily in the wind. Wool to be reserved mainly for military uniforms during civilization War II and so manufacturers turn to cotton for government and civilian flags. Smaller sized flags were made indigenous other products such together silk and muslin, particularly the small parade flags that were fastened come a stick.


To fly a large flag, a several-ply hemp rope referred to as a halyard to be stitched v a level weave, rough circuit linen sleeve on the flag recognized as a heading. Later, hefty metal clips organized the flag come the halyard with hand-sewn eye feet on the hoist end of the flag prior to 1850, climate through metal grommets thereafter.


Pictured room three varieties of flag attachments; an initial is a woven rope attached in a sleeve that the heading (left), the 2nd is a hand-sewn eyelet (center) in usage until about 1850 when a metal grommet (right) became the norm. Images courtesy wilhelm J. Jenack Auctioneers and an individual collection


When it pertains to collecting flags, dimension matters. Any type of flag measuring much more than 3 feet by 5 feet is more an overwhelming for collectors to display and is as such not together desirable. Smaller handheld flags sometimes have actually the exact same value as bigger ones, particularly if the material, the star pattern and also condition are all extraordinary.

Any flag before and during the polite War-era (up to 33 stars) are more desirable simply due to the fact that relatively few survive in any kind of condition, yet the flags that the polite War-era are the many reproduced, particularly military unit flags. Flags from the Centennial era of 1876 up with 1896 (34 to 44 stars) have secondary collector interest; 45- and 46-star flags still do well as a 3rd collectible category.


Handmade stars were widespread throughout the so late 18th and also most of the 19th century approximately the civil War-era. Top top the left is a hand-cut linen star which to be sewn by hand till the creation of the zigzag sewing an equipment about 1890; the last is a machine-sewn star. Image courtesy: william J. Jenack Auctioneers and an individual collection

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

The 49-star flag offered for only one year, indigenous 1959 come 1960, and is considered desirable in any kind of size or problem (as lengthy as the stars room intact) with a slightly greater value at auction native the 48-star flag.

A 50-star flag in any kind of size is common and also not normally collectible unless it has actually a historic context, has flown over the White home or Capitol (with original box and certificate), flown to the moon, or autographed through a chairman or someone of significance. Otherwise, the value is around $30 to $40 or so, relying on size.

Unlike various other collectibles, the condition of a flag is not normally the deciding factor. Instead, the stars play more of a central role in the auction value. If few of the stars space missing, yet the stripes space intact, the value would it is in compromised. It is an ext desirable to have actually all the stars intact also if some of the stripes space missing.


The material that was prevalent throughout, the way the stars room arranged and stitched (whether sewn by hand or machine), the type of material in the sleeve, what ply and form of object was supplied to darn the components together, and how it to be attached to a pole (whether through a rope, hand-sewn eyelets or steel grommet) are the an essential factors to identify when a flag was created.

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These specifications are what separates an yes, really flag from a reproduction. No matter exactly how skillfully a flag was made, the details in its building and construction will constantly tell the genuine story. That is because of this important to have actually an professional in textiles verify any historic flag before it is auctioned or restored.