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42 Star Flag -unofficial- (U.S.)

Last modified: 2022-07-02 by rick wyatt
Keywords: forty-two | united states | unofficial |
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[U.S. flag] image by Clay Moss, amended by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 21 May 2022

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While Idaho's admission to the Union on 3 July 1890 made the 43 star flag official from 4 July 1890 until 4 July 1891, the admission of Wyoming as the 44th State on 10 July 1890 probably explains why there are so few 43 star flags to be found. Large numbers of 42 star flags were made in preparation for 4 July 1890. Very few 43 star flags appear to have been made afterwards. Although the 43 star pattern was official for one year, there were only 43 States for one week, 3 July 1890 to 10 July 1890.
Devereaux Cannon, 13 December 2001

In the Vexilloid Tabloid 94 - June 2022, Lisa and John Ingle present an "unofficial 42-star U.S. flag, likely made in 1890 in anticipation of Washington statehood, with family provenance back to that era (while 5 states had joined the Union between July 1889 and June 1890, for a total of 42 stars, Idaho slipped in on July 3, 1890, and made the total 43)."

From 11 November 1889, when Washington State joined the Union, up to 3 July 1890, it appeared the US would get a 42 star flag. That date, however, Idaho joined, and the next day the flag was changed from 38 stars to 43 stars. Not many flag-makers had anticipated the change, and on top of that, the flag was valid for only one year, before Wyoming brought the number to 44 stars. Thus, the 43 star flags are rather rare, and flags that had been made for the 42 star Independence Day were more common.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 21 May 2022

U.S. 42 star flag with a 10

Mr. Lasher has sent a photo of this flag to me. The flag is framed and its staff is hanging above the frame.

The frame hangs next to a wall switch. Using the size of the switchplate to establish a scale, I guess the size of the flag as being about 22 inches on the hoist and 27 inches on the fly, exclusive of its fringe. It has a pole sleeve formed apparently by folding over the leading edge of the flag.

The pole seems to be about 4 feet long, is metal, and, according to Mr. Lasher, "would seem that it was placed in the end of a barrel of a weapon and it has two nubs on it that are in the same position as two holes on the flag." There appears to be a ring on the pole that would stop it at the end of the rifle barrel, with about 15 inches of the pole inside the barrel.

I believe what Mr. Lasher has is a flank or general guide marker for the U.S. Army or a State militia unit. The numeral "10" probably indicates the 10th regiment. These flags were carried on poles that fit into the rifles of the sergeants on either flank of a regiment arrayed in line of battle. I am not familiar with the Army regulations of the 42/43 star period (1890-1891). These flags were not called for in the Army regulations of the 1860s, but were commonly used at that time, and it appears that their use continued for some decades afterward.

The fact that the flag has only 42 stars does not argue against this being an army issued flag. While the 42 star flag was unofficial, due to the admission of Idaho as the 43rd State on 3 July 1890, there were a large number of 42 star flags made, also resulting from the last minute admission of the 43rd State. I have seen many 42 star flags, including one military National Colour. I still have never seen a period 43 star flag.

Devereaux Cannon, 13 December 2001