Rare, 47-star flag celebrating New Mexico’s entry into the Union offered Sept. 17, 2011

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American flags featuring 47 stars, commemorating New Mexico’s entry into the Union, are rare. This example was discovered in a Salem, Mass., attic by Kaminski Auctions. New Mexico was declared a state on Jan. 6, 1912, just five weeks before Arizona’s entry.

Kaminski Auctions discovered a very rare 47 star American flag celebrating New Mexico’s entry into the Union. Recovered from an attic in Salem, Mass., this well-preserved 47 star wool and muslin American flag is one of a few 47 Star flags ever made. New Mexico was admitted to the Union as the 47th State Jan. 6, 1912, followed by Arizona, as the 48th State, only five weeks later.

In the short time before Arizona’s admission to the Union, only a few 47 star flags were made and distributed. The Flag Act of 1818, states that “… on the admission of every new state into the Union, one star be added to the union of the flag; and that such addition shall take effect of the fourth day of July then next succeeding such admission.”

But on July 4, 1912, the official flag design jumped from 46 to 48 stars, and therefore, there was never an “official” 47-star flag signifying New Mexico’s sole admission to the Union.
There are only a few other public institutions that hold the 47-star flags. These include the Almagordo Museum of History in Almagordo, New Mexico, the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore, Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.

In the past 10 years only a few examples have come up at public auctions, including a fine example offered at Sotheby’s New York in 2005.  The flag is in extremely good condition with machine-sewn double canton of worsted wool with hand-sewn and hand-appliquéd stars made of cotton muslin.  In addition to its general rarity it has two interesting features that make it even more of an outstanding piece of Americana. It has an unusual star pattern on the double-sewn canton: 8,8,8,7,8,8.

Other known examples feature a much different pattern. This rare flag of New Mexican statehood also has a label on the completely preserved hoist/sleeve. It reads “Standard New York” featuring a flag waving from right to left. The flag measures 8 feet 9 inches in width and 5 feet in height.

To learn more about the flag, offered in Kaminski Auction’s End of Summer Country Auction starting at 10 a.m. Sept. 17, 2011 under the tent at 564 Cabot Street, Beverly, Mass., visit Kaminski’s website.  


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