California Bear flags
California Bear flags are the official flags of the state of California
Background and History
The flag of the California republic, more commonly known as the California Bear flag, was adopted as the state’s official flag in 1911 and has its origins in the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846.
In the mid-19th century the State of California was still owned by Mexico, although a war over the territory between Mexico and America was growing ever closer. American settlers in California were encouraged to rebel against the Mexican Government, and a group of 33 men from the region of Sonoma captured the Mexican garrison without resistance.
Declaring themselves a new republic, they elected a President in the form of William B. Ide and raised a home-made flag featuring the image of a bear along with a star in reference to the Lone Star flag – flown by American rebels 10 years earlier when Juan Alvarado and Isaac Graham led a revolution to capture Monterey.
The Bear Flag Revolt lasted just 25 days, as troops soon arrived and took control of the region in the name of the United States. The U.S flag replaced the Bear flag, which later passed through the hands of the military before being donated to the Society of California Pioneers by state senators in 1855.
The original flag and copies were later destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, but a new design based on the original was later adopted by the state in 1911.
Vintage California Bear flags dating from the early to mid-20th century can be found on auction sites including eBay. The price can vary depending on age, size and condition, with early 20th century flags selling for up to $300-$400. Larger flags from the 1960s and 70s can sell for $50 - $100.
The oldest flags, created over 100 years ago, can sell for thousands of dollars. In June 2012 a flag measuring 22 1/2" by 35" with tears and splits sold on eBay from a price of $3,800.