42-Star Printed American Flag, Commemorating Washington Statehood, Circa 1890

This is an uncommon 42-star flag, commemorating the addition of the state of Washington to the Union. The flag dates to 1889-1890, and is printed on cotton. The canton consists of six rows of seven dancing stars, which is an unusual star pattern. The flag design is completed with 13 alternating red and white stripes, each stripe representing one of the original thirteen colonies.

The 42-star flag is interesting from a historical perspective, both because 42 was never an official star count, and because 42-star flags were only produced for 8 months, from November 1889 to July 4, 1890. The flag represents the addition of the Dakotas, Montana and Washington, between November 2 and November 11, 1889. The 42nd state was officially Washington, but the four states gained their statehood only nine days apart, and flag makers added four stars, accordingly, to the previously official 38 star flag.

After 1818, star counts became official on the 4th of July each year. A new star was therefore officially added on Independence Day for every state that had been added over the preceding "flag year". Flag makers, however, did not wait for Independence Day and "official" star counts. Flag making was a competitive industry, and no one wanted to be making 38 star flags, for example, when their competitors were making 42 star flags. On many occasions, particularly in the last quarter of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, flag-makers would speculate the number of states to be added before they were official. It was for this precise reason that 42 stars were never an official flag star count. Idaho received statehood on July 3, 1890, taking the star count to 43 just one day before 42 would have become the official number. This fact makes 42 star flags rare historical collectibles, as well as a classic display of American capitalism.

CONDITION: Flag is in very good condition. It is printed on cotton, in reverse. The flag appears almost unused, but there is a small tear on bottom red stripe at the fly, which has been archivally mended.

Flag has been artfully presented, mounted on dark fabric in custom-built black and silver wooden frame. Framed Size: 19" H x 23" W x 1 1/2" D.

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