Collecting Unofficial 39-Star Flags

July 16, 2022

Collecting Unofficial 39-Star Flags

If you are looking for an impressive, antique American flag to acquire, consider an “unofficial” 39-star flag.

39-Star Hand-Sewn Unofficial Flag, By Lucy George Chambers, Circa 1889

Colorado was admitted to the Union in 1876 as the 38th state, and 38 stars became the official star count on the American flag. Understandably, flag-makers and seamstresses anticipated that the next official flag of the nation would possess 39 stars, expecting Dakota Territory to join the Union next. They began producing 39-star flags to get ahead of the demand. What most did not anticipate, however, was that more than one state would be admitted to the Union in the same year.

 39-Star Printed Unofficial American Flag

In 1890, 14 years after Colorado statehood, a total of five states joined the Union together in a single year. Dakota Territory was divided into North and South Dakota, while Montana, Washington and Idaho joined as well. Thus, the official American flag jumped from 38-stars to 44-stars. This meant that any 39-star flags that were produced, or any others consisting of 40-43 stars, would never be official. Unofficial flags are not very common and tend to be in very good condition, since they should not have been flown. This makes them an excellent choice for flag collectors- either as an investment or as a statement piece for a home or office.






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