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U.S. 48 Star Flag - FDR signature.

Sub-collection: President Franklin D. Roosevelt

48 Star US Flag - signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
48 Star US Flag - signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Millions of Americans revered Franklin D. Roosevelt as the savior of the United States from the Great Depression; millions of others despised him for leading the country down the dark road toward socialism. But however one felt about him, one could not deny that FDR dominated national life from his dramatic inauguration as President on March 4, 1933, until his death early in his fourth term in the White House, on April 12, 1945.

This 32.65 x 56.25, forty-eight-star American flag, from the collection of Dr. Joseph Plaud, bears FDR's bold, six-inch-long black-ink autograph on the white fabric of the fourth horizontal stripe from the top. It is an autograph so clear and so distinct that Dr. Plaud, an expert on the FDR signature himself, rated it a 10.

Otherwise the flag is an unremarkable Lexington brand cotton sheeting flag typical of a mass-market civilian flag intended for home display. And the flag's very slight discoloration from age and the few tiny perforations in its otherwise well-preserved cotton remind us that nearly eight decades stand between ourselves and the day that FDR became President; eight decades shaped in large measure by decisions he made and by policies he pursued while serving as, far and away, the White House's most enduring tenant.

Previously this flag was in the Drs. Joseph and Deborah Plaud collection of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and New Deal artifacts; and exhibited at the FDR American Heritage Center Museum and Special Collection in Worcester, Massachusetts. The Plauds have dated the manufacture and use of the flag to the 1930s, as a world reeling from economic hard times struggled to decipher the omens of global war.

On March 3, 1933, the day before FDR's Inauguration as President, Adolf Hitler's top aide, Hermann Goering, announced that "I don't have to worry about justice; my mission is only to destroy and exterminate, nothing more". On March 5, Hitler, already the German Chancellor, permitted free elections. But the German people would experience no more free elections during Hitler's reign, and just over a week later he named the infamous Joseph Goebbels as his Minister of Propaganda.

During the first week of March the Nazis prepared to loot Jewish-owned department stores in the city of Braunschweig and to send the first of thousands of critics of the Third Reich to Dachau. Nevertheless, FDR insisted in his first speech as President to the American people, a people suffering from a staggering unemployment rate of a fraction under twenty-five percent, that 'the only thing we have to fear is fear itself'. FDR would maintain the same relentlessly confident tone throughout his series of thirty nationwide radio addresses, known as 'fireside chats', which began on March 12, 1933, and lasted into the late spring of 1944.

Conservative criticisms, whether merited or not, of FDR's New Deal economic polices have lost none of their intensity since the early 1930s - even if the criticism is no longer colored by personal animus. Yet his Presidential achievement remains astonishing after having maintained domestic peace amongst an American people who might have torn themselves apart over what many saw as recklessness and radicalism in economic policies.

A famous story involving Roosevelt's predecessor in the White House gives some sense of the drastic changes which have overtaken the United States during the seventy-plus years since FDR signed this forty-eight-star U.S. flag. In 1930, Americans started to glimpse the depths of the Great Depression and many of them complained that President Herbert Hoover was blithely steering the nation straight for the abyss. That year the incomparable baseball slugger Babe Ruth signed a contract with the New York Yankees that would pay him eighty thousand dollars, five thousand dollars more than Hoover's annual salary. Asked by a reporter if it embarrassed him to receive a higher salary than the President's, Ruth supposedly justified his contract by pointing out that I had a better year than Hoover.

Eighty thousand dollars will no longer ransom a king and news that a barely literate man playing a boys' game or any other mere entertainer earns many times the salary of the President of the United States no longer surprises us. We have much higher salaries and much higher home prices and a Dow Jones Industrial Average roughly thirty times greater than the permanently high plateau trumpeted by the famous economist Irving Fisher on October 21, 1929; only a week before the Wall Street carnage which helps explain why President Hoover had a worse year than Babe Ruth.

Perhaps one should leave it to the eye of every beholder to decide whether Franklin D. Roosevelt presided over the best of times or the worst of times. Yet it was surely, as the Roosevelt expert Doris Kearns Goodwin's book title has it, no ordinary time. And, for better or for worse, FDR was no ordinary man, which is why this flag signed by the only four-term U.S. President is no ordinary flag.

The contents of Drs. Joseph J. and Deborah M. Plaud's American Heritage Center Museum likely constitute the finest, most comprehensive, interesting and historic FDR and New Deal collection in private hands. It comprises the personal and professional life and times of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, including his family, friends, acquaintances, political allies and antagonists, from youth to the president of the United States of America.

This flag measures 5' x 3' and has printed stars and sewn stripes. Two metal grommets feature on the hoist side along with a Lexington red ink maker's stamp on the hoist. The flag is slightly toned with age, with a few very small holes, and is otherwise in fine condition.

FDR has signed this 48-star United States flag on the fourth white horizontal stripe from its top, adjacent to the canton. FDR's signature is very bold, in black ink, measuring a full 5" inches long and 1" high; a beautiful signature on an unusual medium.

ZFC Significant Flag
Item is Framed

• Acquired by purchase by Dr. Joseph Plaud's Franklin D. Roosevelt American Heritage Center Museum and Special Collection, Worcester, Massachusetts.
• Sold via Heritage Auctions of Dallas, Texas to Zaricor Flag Collection, 2008.


Sacks, Pamela H., October 14, 2003 Collection a lifetime pursuit, Exhaustive FDR collection may give birth to museum, Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp, 30 October 2011, from:


Subject: PRESS RELEASE for FDR CENTER MUSEUM GRAND OPENING, FDR Center and Museum opening, 31 October 2011, from:

Cairo Conference, Wikipedia, 31 October 2011, from:

Tehran Conference, Wikipedia, 31 October 2011, from:

Image Credits:
Zaricor Flag Collection

File:Franklin Roosevelt Signature, , Wikipedia, 31 October 2011, from:

Hoist & Fly

Width of Hoist 32.675
Length of Fly 56.125


Width of Union/Canton 17.675
Length of Union/Canton 23.5


Comments on Star Measurements sheeting
Size of Stars 1.675


Width of 1st Stripe 2.25
Width of 3rd Stripe 2.25
Width of 8th Stripe 2.5
Width of Last Stripe 2.75
Size of Hoist 1


Is it framed? yes
Frame Height 41
Frame Length 64


Number of Stars 48
How are the stars embeded? Printed
Are there stars on obverse? no
Are there stars on reverse? yes


Number of Stripes 13
Color of Top Stripe Red
Color of Bottom Stripe Red
Has a Blood Stripe? no


Nation Represented United States


Fabric Cotton
Comments on Fabric cotton sheeting


Stitching Machine


Type of Weave Plain


Comments on Method of Attachmen .75 wartime grey metal grommets
Method of Attachment Headings & Grommets


Applique Sides Single Faced = Mirror Image Reverse



All original documents and drawings are held in the Zaricor Flag Collection Archives.


Condition Good
Damage used, worn, light wear, 2 small tears in the canton
Displayable yes


Date 1943-1944