Tag Archives: flag design

Americana: The 39-star Flag that Never Was

History Trivia – Do you know why there never really was a 39-star US flag? Read on about why it never became official …

At the same time as I was designing Mini Lace and Beaded Flag way back in 2001, I had charted a larger-scale version with half-embroidered stars. I went ahead and published Mini Lace and Beaded Flag (the 50-star beaded mini version) in 1991, with the intent of completing the design of the 2nd version shortly afterwards. As many other things in my life, that project got set aside for many years. 12 whole years in fact!

So here it is 2013, and I stumbled across that 12-year old chart I had made. Excited to get back to working on this, I arranged with Crystal Palace to use their Cuddles yarn for the sample model.

The knitting went along quickly with no problems. Glad I was so smart 12 years ago and had charted all the details perfectly so that I could just enjoy making the project without having to re-figure anything. Love the Cuddles yarn, too. No bleeding — an important factor when putting red and blue yarn right next to white.

I was in the process of completing the embroidery on the “stars” before I realized I had 39 stars rather than 50. Duh! I am sure I knew about this 12 years ago. But I had forgotten. It is a design constraint within which I was working so that the feather-and-fan stitch pattern for the wavy red and white stripes would align properly with the blue union. No problem — this isn’t a real flag, of course.

But it did get me to thinking about whether there ever had been an actual 39-star flag. Excerpted from http://flagspot.net/flags/us-39.html

” Q: When did the U.S. flag have 39 stars?
There never was an “official” 39 star U.S. flag. However, flag manufacturers betting on early sales misjudged in 1889 by believing the two Dakotas would be admitted as one state and the others would be delayed until after the 4th of July. Both Dakotas, Montana and Washington were made into states in November, 1889 and Idaho was admitted July 3, 1890! … “

Thus the next official U.S. flag had 43 stars, not 39 (or even 42, since it surprised everyone that Idaho was admitted just under the wire of the July 4th cut-off).

There are pictures of a couple of 39-star flags that manufacturers had designed in anticipation of the entry of the Dakotas as one state in 1889. Neither is anywhere close to the arrangement of stars I happened to come up with for my Americana pattern. I wonder if there is a little bit of Betsy Ross in me? hee hee