39-Star Hand-Sewn Unofficial American Flag, Circa 1889

Presented is a 39-star American flag, dating to 1889 and celebrating North Dakota's statehood.  This very large family flag was fully hand-cut and sewn, impressive in both its construction and sheer size. The flag's canton features a 7-6-7-6-7-6 vertical row star pattern. The stars are whimsically positioned at differing angles, to mimic shimmering stars in the sky at night.

The flag was first made in 1876, presumably as a celebration of our nation's Centennial. The flag's hoist has a dated inscription that reads "Made by Lucy George 1876" in dark ink. 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 the progression and bright future of the United States. For this reason, many flags produced in the Centennial year incorporated 38 stars, for the newly admitted state of Colorado, in light of the growth and progression of the nation.

As was typical of family flags, the canton of the flag was then updated with the addition of one more star in 1889, when North Dakota was granted statehood in 1889. North Dakota became the 39th state to be admitted into the Union on November 2, 1889. There was a stretch of 12 years between the 38th state and the 39th state, and the maker of this flag clearly believed that the 39th state would be admitted as a single state. However, in 1889 there were three states in addition to North Dakota to receive statehood: South Dakota, Montana, and Washington. By July 4th of 1890, the official star count on the flag was 43. As such, 39-star flags are considered "unofficial" flags.


Overall very good condition. Canton and stripes maintain vibrant coloring. Most of the stitching is intact. Several minor holes and stains visible on field, as expected with age and past use. Stitched white bordering on fly end, for extra reinforcement. "Made by Lucy George 1876" inscribed on white headband in ink. Original ties at top and bottom of the headband. Flag dimensions: 46 1/2"H x 84"W. 

Flag has been archivally mounted in a custom-built black frame with silver beaded spandrel. The frame is outfitted with UV Plexiglas and a custom descriptive plaque. Framed dimensions: 65”H x 101”W x 2” D. 

Related Items