Obverse Detail 1

Obverse Detail 1

Obverse Detail 2

Obverse Detail 2

Obverse Detail 3

Obverse Detail 3

Obverse Emblem

Obverse Emblem




Brazil 21 Star Ensign, 1889 - 1960.

Sub-collection: South America

Brazilian Ensign pattern adopted in 1889 and used until the 1960.
This wool Brazilian ensign conforms to the pattern adopted in 1889 and used until the creation of the new State of Guanabara in 1960. This particular flag was made by Annin & Co., the oldest and largest flag company in the United States. The flag is finished with a brass snap and ring, a common method of attachment utilized by the United States Navy.
It is highly likely that this is a contract flag made for the United States Navy to use as a Courtesy Ensign. Courtesy Ensigns are worn by US Naval vessels when cruising in territorial waters or anchoring in foreign ports. Given the 21 stars on this ensign, it dates to before 1960 and was likely made either during WWII or shortly thereafter.

The Brazilian flag, like the US flag which inspired the practice, utilizes a star for each Brazilian state, as well as one for the capital territory. Unlike the US flag, each star on the flag stands for a particular state and is chosen to represent a specific star in the night sky as seen by an observer placed outside the celestial sphere, at the city of Rio de Janeiro, at 8 hours and 30 minutes on 15 November 1889.
When a new territory attains statehood, a new star is added. Since 1960 the flag has changed several times, although it seems that that the Brazilians were not very vigilant in changing their flag to account for the creation of new states, as some of the flag changes occurred well after statehood, while others were anticipatory.

The national motto "Ordem e Progresso" ("Order and Progress") is displayed across the celestial equator. It was is inspired by Auguste Comte's motto of positivism: "L'amour pour principe et l'ordre pour base; le progr├Ęs pour but" ("Love as a principle and order as the basis; progress as the goal").
The colors and lozenge design derive from the flag of the Empire of Brazil (1822 to 1899), one of the few successful monarchies ever established in the New World, and it is thought to have been inspired by the lozenges on pre-1812 Napoleonic military colors.

Provenance: Acquired by purchase at a Monterey Bay Area surplus store, J&S Surplus, Moss Landing, CA.


Brazil, Flags of the World, 30 November 2011, from:

Flag of Brazil, Wikipedia, 30 November 2011, from:

Image Credits:
Zaricor Flag Collection

Hoist & Fly

Width of Hoist 98
Length of Fly 67


Comments on Star Measurements The star measurement varies depending on the magnitude of the star.
Size of Stars various


Size of Hoist 2


Is it framed? no


Number of Stars 21
How are the stars embeded? Printed
Are there stars on obverse? yes
Are there stars on reverse? yes
Comments on Stars Unlike the stars on the American flag, each particular star on the Brazilian flag represents one particular state. All stars are actually present in the night sky, which is depicted as if seen from above (i.e. from outside the illusory 'globe' that the night sky appears to be when seen from Earth), and positioned, as they would have been on 15 November 1889 at 08:30 over Rio de Janeiro. There are 5 orders of magnitude (.30, .25, .20, .14 and .10 times 1/14 of the width of the flag respectively). These magnitudes do not directly correspond to the astronomical magnitudes, but are relative to them.
Star Pattern Celestial Sphere


Has a Blood Stripe? no


Description of Crest/Emblem Celestial sphere on a yellow diamond.


Nation Represented Brazil


Fabric Wool
Comments on Fabric Bunting


Stitching Machine


Thread Material Cotton


Comments on Method of Attachmen Sleeve with cord and ring at the end.
Method of Attachment Snap & Ring


Applique Sides Double Faced = Reads correctly on both sides


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


Condition Good
Damage Flag contains wrinkles and stains.
Displayable yes


Date Circa 1940's