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Illinois Anniversary Flags (U.S.)

Centennial, Sesquicentennial, Bicentennial

Last modified: 2018-07-27 by rick wyatt
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Centennial flag

[Illinois centennial flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin


"In 1918 Springfield artist George H. Schanbacher painted the eagles and shields between the corbel statues in the upper rotunda as part of Illinois' centennial celebration. Mr. Schanbacher also decorated the ceiling of the State Library (now Senate Minority offices) with murals of owls in 1888. He returned in 1923 and painted over his earlier work when the Library was converted into a legislative lounge. The aforementioned shields have 10 stars on either side of a blue ribbon with a large white star in the center. This represents 10 northern and 10 southern states at the time Illinois was admitted to the Union, with the large white star representing Illinois, the 21st state. This banner was designed by Wallace Rice of Chicago in honor of the 100th anniversary of Illinois statehood. Mr. Rice also designed the city flag of Chicago."
Dov Gutterman, 28 December 2002

[Illinois centennial flag] image located by Jim Ferrigan, 15 September 2010

In a photo of the centennial flag, the blue colour is much lighter than shown above. I do not know if this is due to fading or to the use of a paler blue in the original. This flag was an eBay offer by "edwinart" (aka Edwin's Stuff) no. 390012521647, ended 4 Dec 2008. Comments (edited): "Roughly 2 x 3 FEET / Wool with Screenprinted graphics. Parade flag with general wear, stains and soiling. Would look great framed!"

Contemporary comments found by googling "official flag of the Illinois centennial" (Google Books from Popular Mechanics, June 1917) plus drawing. Interestingly the blue stripe is said to represent Lincoln whereas the white ones represent peace and justice:

The State of Illinois was admitted to the Union in 1818 and fitting centennial celebrations are planned for next year by the centennial commission, which has adopted a distinctive state flag to be flown during the year below the stars and stripes on public buildings. It was designed by a Chicago poet, and shows a broad blue horizontal bar, typifying union, between two white ones, which symbolize peace and justice. Ten blue stars above and ten below the central bar represent the ten northern and ten southern states admitted before Illinois, which was the 21st state, and is represented by a large white star on the blue bar. This blue bar of union is symbolic of the work of Lincoln, the greatest of all Illinoisians."

Googling ""Illinois centennial flag" almanac 1918" yields the following from, leading to a Chicago Daily News National Almanac for 1918, text only. Full quote:

The Illinois legislature passed an act, approved June 25, 1917, authorizing the state centennial commission to use a state banner or flag commemorating the centennial anniversary of the admission of the state of Illinois into the federal union. The banner or pennant shall consist of three horizontal stripes in proper proportion as to length and width, the upper and the lower stripes being white in color and the middle stripe national blue in color, the stripes being of such dimensions that they will appear of equal width. At the staff end of the flag or emblem there shall be ten stars blue in color in the upper white stripe and ten stars blue in color in the lower white stripe, each group of the ten stars being arranged in four rows as follows: Four blue stars in the first row near the staff end of the flag or emblem, three blue stars in the second row, two blue stars in the third row, and one blue star in the fourth or last row, in such a manner that four of the blue stars in each white stripe shall face the staff end and four of the blue stars shall also face the middle or blue stripe. In the center blue stripe, near the staff end of the blue stripe, and in a proper relative position between the two star fields on the two white stripes, there shall be one single white star of a larger size than the stare on the white stripes representing Illinois, the twenty-first state admitted to the union."

So: stripes of equal width but "national blue" in colour. Are the hues in our two photos faded or is this a mistake? In any case we now know the approval date and have more information on the stripes including their symbolism.
Jan Mertens, 15 September 2010

More details in Google Books:
"The centennial of the state of Illinois: Report of the Centennial ..., Volume 6 By Illinois. Centennial Commission "For a contemporary legal description and period image at:
Jim Ferrigan, 17 September 2010

Vertical orientation

[Illinois centennial flag]
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, reoriented by Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 21 March 2009

As the original version of the flag of Chicago is a [vertical] banner, a hanging flag, I would suggest that the Illinois Centennial flag, which is also by Wallace Rice, may likewise have been a vertical design. This would explain why the elements appear to cling to the hoist.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 21 March 2009

Sesquicentennial flag

[Illinois sesquicentennial flag] image located by Valentin Poposki, 27 January 2009

Another postcard on flags theme. Here you'll find a postcard showing the Illinois sesquicentennial flag:
Valentin Poposki, 27 January 2009

The flag is dark blue, with ring of stars, one removed and enlarged. In center a large letter I, with a red map of Illinois on it.

Bicentennial flag

[Illinois bicentennial flag] image by Randy Young, 19 January 2018

"A blue silhouette of the state takes center-stage in the flag's design, with 21 stars surrounding the state representing the states in the union when Illinois joined on Dec. 3, 1818. The bicentennial design can be found throughout the bicentennial website,, where upcoming events and the communities hosting them can be found.​"
Dave Fowler, 7 December 2017

The Illinois 200 logo was designed by Ben Olson of 3 Monkeys & Aardvark Studios, a design agency, as mentioned by the Illinois Bicentennial Commission inaugural meeting Minute of January 12, 2017. Also in the Minutes is the purpose of this commission: "Illinois' first constitution was adopted on August 26, 1818, and Illinois became the twenty-first state on December 3, 1818. To commemorate, plans are underway for a yearlong celebration to take place between December 3, 2017 and December 3, 2018... a soft launch would begin in August 2017 at the Illinois State Fairs followed by a 100-day countdown."

The video of the unveiling ceremony is seen here and here are two pictures
featuring Ben Olson with the design as well: and

The flag raising ceremony was officially called "Illinois Bicentennial Flag Raising Ceremony" and was held on December 4, 2017 from 12 to 12:20 p.m. It was held at Skokie Village Hall.

Here's the final template for the logo as presented by Ben Olson:

For additional information go to Illinois 2,000 (official website):
Esteban Rivera, 19 January 2018