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Design variations of the U.S. Flag

Last modified: 2024-03-30 by rick wyatt
Keywords: united states | variation | christian fish | swastika | hearts | copyleft |
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Over time, there have been discussions about variations of the U.S. flag as seen in movies, TV serials, cartoons, etc... and some that were used in real life.
Jorge Candeias, 3 March 2001

Variants with stars replaced or moved

50 skulls and bones flag
[U.S. variation - 50 skulls and bones flag] image by Jorge Candeias, 3 March 2001

50 oil drums flag
[U.S. variation - 50 oil drums flag] image by Jorge Candeias, 3 March 2001

50 swastikas flag
[U.S. variation - 50 swastikas flag] image by Jorge Candeias, 3 March 2001

A similar design is used in the cover of the book The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick, as published in 2001 by Penguin Books, where the swastikas are however upright.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 4 May 2009

Earthquake flag
[U.S. variation - stars piled in base of flag] image by Clay Moss, 25 July 2018

[U.S. variation - stars piled in base of flag] image by Clay Moss, 25 July 2018

One morning in the early 1980s, the store manager of The Flag Store in San Francisco, Jim Ferrigan, and his assistant manager, Jim Zook, were at Paramount Flag Company of San Francisco, picking up inventory. They wanted to inspect one of the custom flags that had been ordered at the store and went to a layout table to unfurl it. At that same table a long time Paramount employee, Miriam, was placing stars on a blue canton to make a standard US flag.

When the two men unfurled custom flag to place it onto the table it caused the unpinned stars on Miriam's US flag to be blown into the canton’s corners. Jim Zook, an artist, was struck by the randomized pile of stars that the unexpected puff of air had created and asked Miriam to pin the stars in place and have it sewn up into a U.S. flag for the store. The resulting flag was first christened the “Falling Star Flag” or “Fallen Stars Flag” and would be displayed, sometimes on the wall and sometimes in the window, usually vertically, at the Flag Store, as an item of novelty décor. It was displayed without any explanation as an optical joke.

One summer day an unnamed German tourist queried Was ist das? Eine Erdbebenfahne? (What is that? An earthquake flag?) Jim Zook, who understood German, immediately realized the potential, and the so-called “Earthquake Flag” was born.

Once the flag had been named it moved from optical novelty to production item and different sizes, fabrics and styles were eventually made available. In the fall of that year the Smithsonian Curator Harold Langley requested one for the Smithsonian's’ Museum of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History) and it became part of the national collection and is known as the San Francisco "Earthquake Flag.”

Today, the Paramount Flag Company no longer exists and the Earthquake flag is no longer manufactured, but it still brings a smile to the faces of flag enthusiasts when seen or mentioned. Special thanks to Jim Ferrigan who shared this story with me.

The flag is used both vertically and horizontally. The most common display is vertical.
Pete Loeser, 25 July 2018

[U.S. variation - stars piled in corner flag] image by Jorge Candeias, 3 March 2001

Jim Ferrigan tells me there were actually three versions of the Earthquake Flag produce (once they caught on) designed to show the pile of fallen stars at different angles; the vertical one, the horizontal version and one for 45 degree display.
Pete Loeser, 26 July 2018

Here are a few more renditions of the same concept of "fallen stars" (regarding the U.S. flag):
- "Deconstructed Flag #2 (Out of Order)" by Brian Kenny, 2012
Flag: Source:
"Part of a series of works by the artist Brian Kenny (official website:, “Deconstructed Flag” focuses
specifically on what it means to be gay and neglected in America. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Kenny says: “I feel discontent with the current political and economic system that allows for so much corruption and social injustice. I wanted to express this discontent in my art, so I learned how to sew and made a series of deconstructed American flags with fallen or removed stars and stripes.”" (source:

- "Broken" by Stanley Bermudez (n.d.)

- Unknown (this image portrays the fallen stars in a different manner than the "Earthquake flag").

Of the three, the one by Brian Kenny does exist as a real flag although it's part of an art exhibit only.
Esteban Rivera, 25 July 2018

Soviet United States of America flag
[U.S. variation - communist flag] image by Jorge Candeias, 3 March 2001

In the 1980s in USA was made the film "Amerika" (fiction about Soviet occupation of USA). I remember two flags: a flag of occupied USA - "Soviet United States of America" - 'Stars and Stripes' with white hammer and sickle in the canton and without stars - and a flag of American communists-traitors - red flag with two white ovals with portraits of Lenin and Lincoln.
Victor Lomantsov, 3 March 2001

Communist flag variants
[U.S. variation - communist flag] image by Jorge Candeias, 3 March 2001

[U.S. variation - communist flag] image by Jorge Candeias, 3 March 2001

This flag appeared in the magazine/comic was "Treasure Chest". See where it gives a little history of Treasure Chest, and shows an additional image of the USSA Hammer&Sickle flag from the "What a Family's Life Would be Like in a Communist United  States" feature (part of Treasure Chest's "Godless Communism" series, which ran about the same time- the comic carried a written endorsement from J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation).
Ned Smith, 17 January 2006

Anti-Corporate Flags
[U.S. variation - corporate power protest flag] image by Phil Nelson, 27 June 2001

See also: Anti-Corporate Flags

Christian fish symbol on flag
[U.S. variation - christian fish flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 9 September 2007

I saw in the window of a nearby conservative evangelical bookstore both the familiar "Christian" flag and a new design I had not seen before - the same as the S&S but with a white "ichthys" fish symbol in place of the stars in the canton.
Joe McMillan, 25 January 2002

Copyleft symbol on flag
[U.S. variation - copyleft flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 7 July 2007

Here is a variant of the USA flag I saw on the Web with the white copyleft symbol instead of the stars in the canton can be found on the Web at: It seems to be the photo of a real flag, although it is not absolutely certain, as I have not seen it anywhere else.
Tomislav Todorovic, 7 July 2007

Hearts on flag
[U.S. variation - hearts flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 23 August 2010

50 white hearts for stars, canton detail used to illustrate the online version of Bono Vox's op-ed in the New
York Times "Rebranding America" 2009.10.17. This design illustrates the author's idea of well-wishers's view of of "what they wish America to be."
António Martins-Tuválkin, 23 August 2010