Four more or less official state flags have been associated with the state of Nevada.
The first Nevada state flag flown beginning in 1905 reflects Nevada's most famous
mineral resources, silver and gold. The thirty six stars displayed on the blue
background represent Nevada's position as the thirty sixth state to enter the Union. In
1915, the Nevada state flag was changed to add the Nevada State Coat of Arms to the
flag. The 36 gold and silver stars were re-sized and re-arranged around the Arms and the
words "All for our country" were displayed below. In 1926, Nevada Lieutenant Governor
Maurice Sullivan decided that the high cost of producing the current state flag, because
of intricate design and numerous colors, prevented its widespread use in the state. 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 Nevada State Flag.
A design submitted by Louis Shellback, III was selected as the winner. The "Shellback"
design retained the blue field of the earlier state flags. In spite of a push to adopt
this new design before the inaugural ball, the winning "Shellback" design was not
approved by the 1927 Legislature and Nevada continued to fly the 1915 Nevada state flag,
at least at the Governor's Office and at official ceremonies. The matter of the Nevada
state flag was picked up again in the 1929 session of the Nevada State Legislature.
Senator William Dressler introduced a bill repealing the 1915 Nevada state flag and
officially adopting the "Shellback" 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 Nevada state 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
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 Nevada state 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. On March 26, 1929, the bill adopting the
"Shellback" Nevada state flag was signed by Governor Balzar of Nevada.
However, 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 Nevada 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. 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. In 1991, the error of the
1929 legislature was corrected and the Nevada State flag that flies over Nevada reflects
both the original "Shellback" 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.