Obverse - edit 2
Obverse - edit 2

Obverse - edit 2





Reverse Star

Reverse Star

Reverse Text

Reverse Text



Obverse - edit

Obverse - edit


U.S. 38 Star flag converted into a 42 Star Flag.

Sub-collection: Star Spangled Banner Flag House

U.S. 42 Star flag converted from a 38 Star Flag, 1890.
This 42-star US flag was originally made as a flag of 38 stars, in accord with to the period from 1877 to 1890, to which four stars were added in anticipation of the next official change to the flag. This creates an unusual 8-7-8-7-8 pattern with 2 end stars on each side near the bottom and top rows. The wool bunting field is lightly woven, comprising 13 horizontal alternating red and white stripes, each about 4.50 inches wide with a red top and bottom stripe. A dark blue canton is inset into the field, and extending through seven stripes from the top, is the union at 43.25 inches wide on the fly x 30.25 inches, with 42 stars sewn on the obverse and reverse sides of 3.85 inches across each. Thirty-eight (38) of the stars are arranged in five horizontal rows: 8-7-8-7-8. After manufacture as a 38 star flag, the flag was modified in 1890 by the addition of four more stars, one each in the spaces at the beginning and ends between the 1st and 2nd and the 4th and 5th rows. The flag is machine-stitched with cotton thread and is attached by means of brass grommets worked into each end of the white canvas heading, which is marked with the size, 5'x8'.

The 19th century was a dynamic period for the United States of America. In 1800 there were 15 states represented on the US Flag. By 1900 the official star count had increased by 30 stars to an official count of 45. The addition of new states compelled constant changes in the flag. The acquisition of a new flag with a current star count could have been problematical for those remotely removed from cities and flag makers. As a result ingenious Americans often resorted to converting their flags to a more current star count; often by adding new stars to an older flag. Some modifiers altered the entire starfield while other individual makers would squeeze the additional stars into the existing pattern. These conversions often have unusual and often unique star patterns, reflecting American individualism and thrift. Since there were no specifications for arranging the stars until 1916, these conversions were widely flown by their proud owners. Indeed, the need for a flag seemingly superseded the need for "official" conformity.

This flag's early history is unknown; the flag was acquired by the donor, Mrs. Vietnia Sanchez Alvarez, a Baltimore native, from Mr. & Mrs. Edwin Wynant of New York, in the 1950's. Mrs. Alvarez described Mr. Wynant as "a true American." Their daughter Mrs. Lillian Wynant Battaglia had also passed away and her husband, Mr. Charles Battaglia, of Waldwick, NJ could provide no further details.

After it was donated in the interest of Mrs. Franklin Onion, the flag was given the accession number M.F.1969.5.1, and became part of the collection of The Flag House & Star-Spangled Banner Museum (FHSSBM). Founded in 1927, the facility is one of Baltimore's oldest museums open to the public. The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House Association, Inc. was created in dedication to the story of Mary Young Pickersgill, maker of the hefty 30 x 42-foot Star-Spangled Banner that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, providing the muse for Francis Scott Key's poem that became the US National Anthem. Mary Pickersgill's flag can now be seen at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. As one of the earliest associations dedicated to the study and preservation of flags, The Flag House & Star-Spangled Banner Museum also became a repository for flags from other eras, and amassed one of the most significant flag collections in the nation.

It is interesting to note that Mrs. Alvarez was the goddaughter of Cardinal James Gibbons (1834-1921). Gibbons was an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and served as the Archbishop of Baltimore from 1877 to 1921 where he was a passionate advocate for the protection of laborers and labor unions.

Provenance: Acquired by private sale from Star Spangled Banner Flag House museum collection deaccession in 1997.

ZFC Significant Flag
Item is Framed


Madaus, Howard M.- Whitney Smith, The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict, VZ Publications, Santa Cruz, 2006.

Mastai, Boleslaw and Marie-Louise D'Otrange, The Stars and The Stripes: The American Flag as Art and as History from the Birth of the republic to the Present, Knopf, New York, 1973.

38 Star Flag - (1877-1890) (U.S.), Flags of the World, 12 November 2011, from: http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/us-1877.html

42 Star Flag -unofficial- (U.S.), Flags of the World, 12 November 2011, from: http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/us-42.html

James Gibbons, Wikipedia, 12 November 2011, from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Gibbons

Image Credits:
Zaricor Flag Collection

Hoist & Fly

Width of Hoist 57
Length of Fly 96


Width of Union/Canton 43.25
Length of Union/Canton 30.25


Comments on Star Measurements some are 3.75"
Size of Stars 3.85


Width of 1st Stripe 4.75
Width of 3rd Stripe 4
Width of 8th Stripe 4.5
Width of Last Stripe 4.85
Size of Hoist 1.75


Is it framed? yes
Frame Height 60
Frame Length 96


Number of Stars 42
How are the stars embeded? Sewn
Are there stars on obverse? yes
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 Wool
Comments on Fabric Bunting


Stitching Machine


Thread Material Cotton


Type of Weave Plain


Method of Attachment Grommets




Research Documents
All original documents and drawings are held in the Zaricor Flag Collection Archives.
Public Copy & Signs


Condition Good
Damage Few small losses that are not structurally weakening.
Stains and overall grime and discoloration
Displayable yes


Date 1882-1890