26-Star Printed American Flag

This printed 26-Star American flag celebrates Michigan statehood. The 26th star represents Michigan, which was admitted as the 26th state on July 4, 1837. 26-star flags were the official star count from 1837 until Florida gained statehood in 1845. Printed on cotton, the flag features 26 stars configured in a 7/6/7/6 vertical row configuration. 13 alternating red and white stripes complete the flag’s design. 

No printed parade flags with star counts less than 26 are known to exist.  Only a small handful of 26-star parade flags have survived, and this is one of them. It is estimated that maybe fewer than 20 printed 26-star flags are known to exist in either public or private collections. 

Printed flags are often called “parade flags” or “hand-wavers”. The earliest varieties have either 26 stars on the canton, like this very rare example, or 13 stars, made during the same period but celebratory of our colonial past instead of adhering to the actual star count of the day. Prior to 1837, American flags were typically sewn, not printed. 

Printed flags differ from sewn flags in that they were not often manufactured to survive long periods being flown from a flag staff.  They were often intended to be used and discarded.  The gauze-like materials often used for parade flags are thin and brittle, though the paint applied to them has fortunately contributed to their survival by protecting and reinforcing the threads of the fabric. 

CONDITION: 

Cotton flag, printed with 26-stars. No headband. A thin, horizontal stripe of unprinted fabric at bottom. Cut and frayed edges to top and bottom of bolt, clean hoist and fly ends. Colors slightly faded. Flag measures 12" H x 20 1/4" W. 

Flag has been archivally mounted and framed in a custom-built black and gold wooden frame with UV Conservation Clear glass. Framed dimensions: 20" H x 28" W x 1 1/2" D.




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