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In 1926, Nevada Lieutenant Governor Maurice Sullivan decided that the high cost of producing the current flag, because of intricate design and numerous colors, prevented its widespread use in the state. Lieutenant Governor Sullivan thought that a more economical design would lead to more use throughout the state, particularly in schools, and he proposed that a new design be adopted for the flag. In June, 1926 a state flag design contest was announced. The winner of the contest would receive $25.00 and the honor associated with having designed the state flag.
A design submitted by Louis Schellbach, III was selected as the winner. The “Schellbach” design retained the blue field of the earlier flags, howver the ornate and expensive-to-reproduce Coat of Arms was replaced by a simple wreath of sagebrush cradling a single silver star. Above the star, a golden scroll with the words “BATTLE BORN” was displayed.
In spite of a push to adopt this new design before the inaugural ball, the winning “Schellbach” design was not approved by the 1927 Legislature and Nevada continued to fly the 1915 flag, at least at the Governor’s Office and at official ceremonies.
The matter of the state flag was picked up again in the 1929 session of the Nevada State Legislature. Senator William Dressler introduced a bill repealing the 1915 flag and officially adopting the “Schellbach” design. This bill passed through the state senate, but was held up in the Assembly when the Education Committee determined that the design for the flag did not include the state’s name. In an amendment proposed by Cada C. Boak, the state name “NEVADA” was to be added to the design around the silver star.
The Senate would not approve the amendment proposed by the Assembly and the Assembly would not back down. Deadlocked and with the legislative session coming to a close, a conference committee composed of Senate and Assembly members, was appointed to work out a compromise on the design.
A compromise was worked out and approved by both the Senate and the Assembly. The state name, “NEVADA”, would appear on the flag in Roman letters to conform with the letters of “BATTLE BORN” on the golden scroll above the wreath of sagebrush. The name would not be placed around the star however, but would be displayed below the sagebrush sprays. This committee amendment was adopted by the Senate and the Assembly and prepared for delivery to the Governor for his signature.
On March 26, 1929, the bill adopting the “Schellbach” flag was signed by Governor Balzar of Nevada.
The bill signed by the Governor did not contain the amendment that had been approved by the Senate and the Assembly and so, did not reflect legislative intent. The letters of the state name ended up inscribed between the points of the star, as prescribed by the original Assembly amendment, and not beneath the sagebrush sprays as determined by the legislative compromise.
This error was discovered sixty years later by legislative researcher Dana Bennett in 1989 and confirmed by State Archives and Records Administrator Guy Rocha.
Senator William Raggio introduced a bill in 1991 to correct the lettering on the Nevada State Flag and testified, during Senate hearings, that the lettering had always bothered him. At this time, Terry Sullivan, Director of General Services, stated his concern about the lack of uniformity in the flags produced for the state. After Senate and Assembly hearings, the legislature voted to correct all of the shortcomings of the 1929 legislation.
The 66th session of the legislature voted that the Nevada State Flag remain essentially the same as that adopted in 1929. However, they chose change the placement of the state name “NEVADA”. Instead of interspersed between the points of the star and instead of being placed under the sagebrush wreath, they chose to display the state name in a semi-circular fashion beneath the star and above the sagebrush sprays. This placement, they felt, enhanced the original “Schellbach” design. In addition to the change in the placement of “NEVADA”, specifications for the manufacture of the flag were also approved.
And so, in 1991, the error of the 1929 legislature was corrected and the flag that flies over Nevada reflects both the original “Schellbach” design and the intent of the legislature.
The Nevada State Flag is cobalt blue. In the upper left hand corner are two sprays of sagebrush, the Nevada State Flower, in a semi-circular design. Above the sprays is the state name, “NEVADA”, a Spanish word for “Snowclad” as a reminder of the great peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Above the state name is a silver star representing the Nevada State Mineral, Silver and the wealth of mineral resources within the state. The words “BATTLE BORN” on the gold scroll above the star testify that Nevada was admitted to the union during the Civil War.
Nevada State Flag Statutes
The following information was excerpted from the Nevada Revised Statutes, Title 19, Section 235.020.
TITLE 19-MISCELLANEOUS MATTERS RELATED TO GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS.
STATE EMBLEMS; GIFTS AND ENDOWMENTS
STATE SEAL AND MOTTO
NRS 235.020 State flag.
The official flag of the State of Nevada is hereby created. The body of the flag must be of solid cobalt blue. On the field in the upper left quarter thereof must be two sprays of sagebrush with the stems crossed at the bottom to form a half wreath. Within the sprays must be a five-pointed silver star with one point up. The word “Nevada” must also be inscribed below the star and above the sprays, in a semicircular pattern with the letters spaced apart in equal increments, in the same style of letters as the words “Battle Born.” Above the wreath, and touching the tips thereof, must be a scroll bearing the words “Battle Born.” The scroll and the word “Nevada” must be golden-yellow. The lettering on the scroll must be black-colored sans serif gothic capital letters.[1:147:1929; NCL § 7020]-(NRS A 1991, 773)