38-Star Hand-Sewn American Flag, Circa 1876-1890

Presented is a hand-sewn 38-star American flag. The flag dates to 1876-1890, when Colorado joined the Union as the 38th state. The 38 stars are all hand-cut and hand-sewn in a row arrangement. 

The light blue canton has five rows of alternating 8-star and 7-star counts. As the stars were cut and sewn by hand, there is a slight variation on both star size and the spacing between stars. A masterpiece of Centennial-era flag making, the flag design is completed with 13 alternating red and white stripes, to represent the 13 original colonies.

The 38th star was added to the flag with the admission of Colorado to the Union on August 1, 1876. Per the Third Flag Act of 1818, stars were not officially added until the 4th of July following a state's addition to the Union. For this reason, 37 was the official star count for the American flag in 1876 and the 38 star flag became the official United States flag on July 4th, 1877.

While the flag was not officially changed to carry 38 stars until 1877, the star count was widely used on flags a year earlier in commemoration of the centennial celebration. The occasion of the nation's 100th birthday celebration was an event that sparked patriotism across the country. Following the devastation of the Civil War, the centennial celebration was a time to come together as a nation to celebrate a new, brighter future for the United States. For this reason, many flags produced in the centennial year incorporated 38 stars, for the newly admitted Colorado, in light of the growth of the nation.

The 38-star flag flew for thirteen years, until 1890. Five presidents served under this flag: Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881), James A. Garfield (1881), Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885), Grover Cleveland (1885-1889), and Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893). The next flag variant to be named official came in 1890 with the addition of 5 new states and thus five new stars to the flag's canton.


Good condition. Headband has three holes for display. Blue stripe has significant fading, red stripe and white stripe have minimal staining throughout. Reinforced fly end. Several small holes scattered throughout, patching and sewn tears in some areas. Flag is unframed, sold as-is. Dimensions: 52” H x 95” W.

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