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QUESTION: We purchased a flag with sewn stars and it has three fields.  A dark blue one in the middle and a white one on top and a white one on the bottom.

The middle blue has only one large white star
The top white has 10 stars in a 4 3 2 1 pattern going away from the large star
the bottom white has 10 stars in a 4 3 2 1 pattern going away from the large star

We saw this same pattern on a screen printed flag in a museum.  Can you help us understand what this flag is?  Thank you.

ANSWER: It's the Illinois centennial flag. See for details.

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QUESTION: Do you think it's the prototype for the screen printed ones?

ANSWER: There is no one "prototype". Any "master copy" would be an original sewn model, vintage 1912, and likely in the archives of a museum or flag manufacturer. As for the existing screen-printed ones, there is no way to tell what they were copied from; it might even be a drawing and not a cloth flag at all.

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QUESTION: Hi Mr. Kirsch,
     My name is Tom Knolbich. What my wife neglected to tell
you about the Illinois Centennial flag was that I got it from
an antique dealer west of Chicago. She had it for over 40 years in
her home. She purchased at a high end estate sale. She could not remember
the name, but she said she owned for over forty years. My thoght is
that it is an original  or 1st made banner type, for it shows stars on
one side versus a flag which has star visible for both sides. The
wikapedia says flags were made and a banner type was also made.
Someone took alot of time sewing this so I believe its to say 1st generation. If you would like to look at it for me, let me know the
cost and where we might visit you. Thanks for your info. Sincerely,
         Tom K.
p.s. my email is  

No need to fly here, as you're moving outside my area of expertise. If you need a hands-on evaluation of the flag, either check out a fabrics curator at a musuem (I'm sure AIC has one if you're near the city) or contact Dave Martucci ( who does this sort of thing for a living. Proper appraisal requires a direct look and a history of ownership ("provenance"), but I have no qualifications in those areas.


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Albert Kirsch


I am more-or-less expert in vexillology (the study of flags). My expertise is particularly strong in North America at the level of city and county, but if I don`t know the answer I know a dozen people who do. So if there`s a flag in the newspaper or on TV that you have trouble identifying, let me know. I`ll do my best. But PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME TO APPRAISE A FLAG'S VALUE: (1) I have no expertise in that area and (2) even if I did, I cannot appraise something I can't see. Take it to a museum which has a specialist in textiles and the like.


In this field, I designed the flag of Carroll County, Illinois, in 1974 (see You can see my personal flag at

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