on the wall of a tavern in Blue Lake in northern California, owned by a
former Alamogordo resident, Mr. Wade Topping, was a piece of history. Made
of fine wool, it has thirteen red and white stripes, with stars on a blue
background in the upper left hand corner. In fact, it has five rows of
eight stars and one row of seven. This unusual piece of history possibly
ignored by the many patrons of the bar, but not its owner, was a 47
Star Flag depicting the entry of the state of New Mexico into the
union of states.
Topping counted the stars on the large flag three times. Each time his
count was the same, 47! Knowing the history of New Mexico, the significance
of the flag dawned on him. He decided to donate the flag to his hometown
museum, the Tularosa Basin Historical Society Museum in Alamogordo,
speech to the Tularosa Basin Historical Society at the Flag Dedication
in February, 1999, Mr. Topping stated, "I counted the stars and saw
it was a forty-seven star flag. It immediately hit me. I said, ‘Boy! New
Mexico and Arizona came in to the Union in 1912 right next to each other.’
" He not only donated the flag to the Museum, but fiscally assisted in
placing the flag in its protective display case.
January 6, 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state to join the Union.
Arizona quickly followed, becoming the 48th state on February 14, 1912.
Therefore, there was never an official United States 47 star flag. This
is done only in July of each year following a change in the number of states.
However, someone somewhere produced a few 47 Star Flags in that short period
47 Star Flag resides in the Museum
at the Palace of Governors in Santa Fe. Curator Diana De Santis
at the Palace has informed us that in researching their flag, she contacted
Dr. Whitney Smith at the Flag Research Center. Dr. Smith stated that the
Center did not have a 47 Star Flag, but he referred her to Mr. Nicholas
Artimovich, a well known flag collector.
also stated that flag manufacturers normally jump the gun in producing
flags for the forthcoming new states, but it doesn't appear to have occurred
in this case. Thus, we presently know that there are only two 47 Star Flags
in existence for the public to see and for researchers to study
47 Star Flag, in its archival display case at the Museum, is on exhibit
for all to see and enjoy.
Note of Interest: In our Book
Store, we sell a book entitled, New
Mexico: A Distant Land, which has an article with pictures about
our Museum and this flag.