U.S. 31 Stars Flag Commemorating California's Admission into the Union, September 9, 1850.
This period example 31 stars United States flag was made to indicate the admission of California as the 31st state on September 9 1850; and would remain accurate until the admission of Minnesota on May 11, 1858, a period of 7 years, 8 months and 2 days.

This flag represents a design whose popularity spanned nearly the entire 19th century. The Grand Luminary star pattern, (sometimes called great-star or great flower) represented the idea of the national motto E Pluribus Unum - "Out of many, one". Each star is separate and distinct, yet all work together to create a unified pattern and a Union of states.

31 star flags with Grand Luminary patterns, even though they were used for several years, are not uncommon; but what is a mystery is that this flag has 14 stripes, seven white and seven red. Since the Flag Act of 1818, the number of stripes in the United States flag has officially remained unchanged at 13, one for each of the original 13 colonies. Whether or not the addition of an extra stripe was intentional or accidental is unknown; but it makes this flag unique. The former owner of this flag, California Superior Court Judge John T. Ball, thought this flag to be made in California.

The Grand Luminary pattern was not unique to this flag or to flags made in California, however. One commentator, viewing the ships in New York Harbor in 1857, noted that the Grand Luminary design predominated among ensigns displayed by merchant vessels and on flags flown to advertise the major hotels in the vicinity.

Exhibition History:
First Presidio Exhibit
31-Star, 14 Stripe United States Flag.

Second Presidio Exhibit, 2003 - GALLERY III
31-Star, 14-Stripe United States Flag.

Publication History:
Madaus, Howard M., Dr, Whitney Smith, The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict. Santa Cruz: VZ Publications, 2006, p. 54.


• Acquired Robert Banks, Baltimore, MD until 1993/94.
• Acquired by John Ball, San Jose, California.
• Judge John Ball Courtroom & Chambers Collection, until 2002.
• Acquired from the Judge John Ball Courtroom & Chambers Collection via private treaty by Zaricor Flag Collection, 2002.

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.

Samuel Chester Reid, Wikipedia, 24 October 2011, from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Chester_Reid

Great Star Flags (U.S.), Flags of the World, 25 October 2011, from: http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/us-gstar.html

Martucci, David, Great Star Flags, US Flags: Part 5, 25 October 2011, from: http://www.midcoast.com/~martucci/flags/us-hist6.html

31 Star Flag - (1851-1858) (U.S.), Flags of the World, 28 October 2011, from: http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/us-1851.html

California Admission Day September 9, 1850, California department of Parks & Recreation, 28 October 2011, from: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=23856

Image Credits:
Zaricor Flag Collection