Obverse Zoom

Obverse Zoom


U.S. 48 star - "Clean Play" moral instruction flag

Sub-collection: U.S. 48 Star Flags

U.S. 48 star - "Clean Play" moral instruction flag

U.S. 48 star - Moral Instruction Flag - Betsy Nimock "Clean Play" Collage

"Clean Play"
"I will not cheat nor will I play for keeps.
I will treat my opponent with courtesy.
If I play in a group game,
I will play, not for my own glory, but for the success of my team and the fun of the game.
I will be a good loser or a generous winner."

These small 48 star United States flags were originally provided to school age children by The National Institution for Moral Instruction for use in character education through the practice of the Palmer Method of Penmanship in the 1920s and 1930s. It was the rediscovery of these Palmer method penmanship exercises that led to the creation of this piece.

The Palmer Method, a standardized system of handwriting, was the brainchild of Austin Palmer an American educator and publisher, which was popular in American public schools between 1888 and 1950. It was advocated because of the usefulness, simplicity and regimentation and which was hoped would increase student discipline and the development of character. In the exercise a laudable moral trait was selected and a few sentences written in the Palmer style about that virtue. The National Institution for Moral Instruction was an early 20th century character development organization headquartered in Washington DC.

These contemporary "Folk Art" collage flags were created by the St. Louis collage artist Betsy Nimock. She was born 27 May 1933, in Madison Wisconsin. She was the fifth child and only daughter of a family of artists who raised her in a stimulating environment. In her formative years she learned painting, music, needlework and puppetry.

At eighteen, Nimock left her home town of Madison, Wisconsin to attend Lindenwood College for Women, located in a small town outside of St Louis. There, Betsy earned a liberal arts degree with a major in studio art. After graduation in 1955, Betsy accepted an offer to teach art at Lindenwood.

Noimock's collage work began in the late 1980's dramatically changing her artistic direction. Her studio overflowed with quilt fragments, vintage photos, old fabric trims and a plethora of ephemera. Some of her works are created exclusively from these items. On other works, she combines her collage pieces with her paintings.

In 1992 she created her Flag Series, creating her art pieces from Moral Instruction flags, antique textiles and student photographs; taking period artifacts and combining them into modern art collages. This series proved very popular, and eventually came to include several hundred pieces.

Nimock's Flag Series has received wide acclaim and has been nationally recognized and contained in many significant collections including those Oprah Winfrey and the Keim Collection, a father-son team of flag collectors who featured her work in their book, "A Grand Old Flag." Nimock blended the handwriting exercises with the old flags and photos because in her words, "It is my feeling that this is what our country is all about."

This piece is entitled "Clean Play." And is a companion piece to ZFC0283 "Truthfulness." The tag on the reverse of both flags read, ""FLAG SERIES-Missouri artist Betsy Nimock has combined children's Palmer Method penmanship lessons of the 1930's with a 48-star flag to recall earlier days of public education. The National Institution, Washington, D.C., provided the pages for young students to copy while practicing their skills."

Publication History:
Keim, Kevin & Peter, A Grand Old Flag, DK Publishing, New York, 2007, pp.160-161.

· 1992, Betsy Nimock Studio

· Early 2000s, Four Seasons Hotel Gift Shop, Clayton, MO

· Acquired by purchase to the Zaricor Flag Collection

Keim, Kevin & Peter, A Grand Old Flag, DK Publishing, New York, 2007, pp.160-161.

Betsy Nimock, Fourth of July Porch, July 4, 2014Dwellings, 22 February 2017, http://www.dwellings-theheartofyourhome.com/2014/07/fourth-of-july-porch-Betsy-nimock.html

Betsy Nimock, American Artist, July 3, 2012, Eyefinds, 22 February 2017http://eyefinds.blogspot.com/2012/07/americana-artist.html

Betsy Nimock, "Handwork by Heart," 21 May 1990, Collaborative Works: St. Louis Skyline, Beacon Productions, 22 February 2017, http://www.beacondocs.com/HTML/pages/COLLsky.html

Betsy Nimock, Artist, Zoominfo, 22 February 2017,

Betsy Nimock, Building Character, 7 June 2006, HERALD-WHIG, 22 February 2017, http://www.whig.com/article/20050528/ARTICLE/305289965#

Betsy Nimock, FABULOUS BETSY NIMOCK 48 STAR US UNITED STATES FLAG, 1 July 2014, WorthPoint, 22 February 2017, http://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/fabulous-betsy-nimock-48-star-united-536969323

National Institution for Moral Instruction, 16 October 2015, lfqccrg's soup, 22 February 2017,

Hoist & Fly

Width of Hoist 7.5
Length of Fly 5


Width of Union/Canton 4.25
Length of Union/Canton 2.75


Comments on Star Measurements 44 stars only are visible
Size of Stars 0.25


Width of 1st Stripe 0.5
Width of 3rd Stripe 0.5
Width of 8th Stripe 0.5
Width of Last Stripe 0.5


Is it framed? yes
Frame Height 9
Frame Length 12


Number of Stars 48
How are the stars embeded? Printed
Are there stars on obverse? yes
Are there stars on reverse? yes
Star Field Design
  • Rectilinear - Horizontal


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


Description of Crest/Emblem Photo of young child


Nation Represented United States


Fabric Cardboard


Comments on Method of Attachmen No hoist
Method of Attachment NONE


Condition Excellent
Displayable yes


Date 1930s