Archive for the ‘History’ Category

History, Music, and FLAGS!

Friday, July 31st, 2015

What a gift friends are! One recently gave us another flag (related) book, National Anthems for the United Nations and their Allies, copyright (get this) 1943, by The Boston Music Company. They’re still in business, but apparently this title is no longer in print. National Anthems of the United Nations and their AlliesSo to appreciate this, one needs to put oneself in the mind-set of the early WWII world. From the opening page:

Ardent and eternal as is the yearning for peace in all civilized nations, it is the perils confronted, the sufferings endured, the heroic sacrifices made in time of war which crystalize and intensify those feelings which human beings from time immemorial have termed, each in their own language, PATRIOTISM.

Thus it is that almost all National Anthems are martial songs. …

Goodness!. Well, enough of that for a while. Now to the bonus of this little gift: included in the book was a two-page foldout of flags, divided into “UNITED NATIONS” and “ASSOCIATED POWERS”. What a score. (Excuse the pun: score-anthems. Get it?)

Flags of Allies

The anthems in the book’s index are not quite so arranged, listing 31 anthems of “THE UNITED NATIONS” (we won’t list them here), followed by those of 16 “ASSOCIATED POWERS”. We will list them here as they are called out in this footnote in the index:

Free Denmark and Fighting France are officially at war with the Axis; Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela have broken off diplomatic relations with Germany, and like the people of Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Iran, Latvia, Liberia, and Lithuania, are actively assisting the United Nations.

The two countries that really caught our interest were Free Denmark and Fighting France (formerly known as Free France). Of the former, our usually reliable friends at WikipediA were virtually silent. But there was a boatload of information on Free France, including this little graphic of its flag with its Croix de Lorraine.Flag of Free France The flag shown on the foldout with the “rhomboid field” is actually the Free French naval jack and French naval honour jack. (More on that in the same Wiki article.)

As a last note (sorry), we glanced at the last page of anthems: Ethiopia. At the bottom, this footnote:

Wartime transportation difficulties made it impossible to  obtain from Ethiopia a copy of this Anthem in time to include it in the first edition. We are glad to be able to add it to this revised edition but technical printing problems compel us to place it on the last page instead of in it alphabetical position in the book.


The King – et ux, et al, etc.

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

New Sweden 375th logoThe Colony known as “New Sweden”  was founded 375 years ago; it ultimately became the City of Wilmington, Delaware. In honor of the anniversary of the establishment of that colony, their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden and Speaker of the Parliament of Finland, Mr. Eero Heinäluoma, are visiting Wilmington today, May 11, 2013. We think that’s pretty cool. Also cool is the fact that there will be several hundred smALL FLAGs of Sweden, Finland and the United States there waving to greet them.


Kalmar Nyckel

Kalmar Nyckel

You know that back in 1638, Finland was part of Sweden. So today’s a big day for the Finns as well. You’ll see both flags here on a replica of the ship that brought those colonialists. Of course it’s all decked out today. (Small pun intended.) The ship is called Kalmar Nyckel and it was a Dutch-built armed merchant ship. Yes, that’s why the flag of The Netherlands is also flying here.

Gee – I mean Uff Da – aren’t flags fun? Did you have any relatives on Kalmar Nyckel?

The ‘strait’ scoop on Detroit’s flag

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

Found another rabbit hole to explore. A short while back, and perhaps still going on, there were some TV commercials touting a particular Motown (as in “Motor Town”) manufacturer of automobiles. While, most likely, other viewers were admiring the styling of the commercial, yours truly noticed the tiniest fluttering of a then-unfamiliar flag down in the corner of perhaps a frame or two of the commercial.

Flag of Detroit

Pretty isn’t it?

Turns out, this is the flag of the city of Detroit, Michigan (surprise!) and was designed in 1907 by one David E. Heineman; it wasn’t officially adopted as the city’s flag until 1948. The original design had the seal as an oval. Apparently sometime in the early 1970s, the design was redone and the seal was made into a circle. Don’t ask. Ever wanting to tinker with things, those Detroiters (Anyone know the correct demonym? Remember last post talking about that?) changed the seal again around a dozen years ago to reduce the number of colors. Again, don’t ask.

The background is what we vexillologists call “quartered”. (Pretty tricky technical term there, eh?) The sections represent the countries that controlled the city at various times. Actually, there were only three countries (France – from 1701, Britain – 1760-96 and the US), but dividing it into three sections didn’t seem to be an option. So, France is shown on the bottom left (the “lower hoist” – to us geeks) with five of their cute little fleurs-de-lis (yes, that’s correct; they’re cute). Britain gets the upper right (oops; the “upper fly”. Got it?) with three of their little lions. And the Stars and Stripes (well thirteen of each of course – for the original colonies) take over the other two quadrants (You got it: the “upper hoist” and the “lower fly”. That wasn’t so hard, was it?).

Now about that seal. Back in 1805 the entire town, as it was then, burned to the ground – save one building. (Do your own research on that.) So the woman on the left is looking at the charred rubble, pretty bummed. Under the rubble is the Latin (always has to be Latin doesn’t it – makes it classier) Speramus Meliora meaning “We hope for better things.” The woman on the right is saying, “Buck up, sis” and gesturing to the new city that will be built. Under that is the Latin Resurget Cineribus, “It will rise from the ashes.” Nice attitude.

So why is ‘strait’ in quotes in the title of this post? Please excuse the little pun. The straitsYou see, in French the words ‘Détroit’ and ‘Détroits’ mean strait or straits. (Remember, the French were the ones who established the first (European) fort there.) Check out the straights between Lake Erie, Lake St. Claire and Lake Huron. So Detroit was a pretty good name for the place. Don’t you think?

By the way, this little picture is shown on the right, or in French, á droite. Don’t confuse that with Detroit. Now you know about those tinkerers – and their flag.

Princess Grace and the Monégasque – and Poland?

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Grace KelleyA few nights ago, Oregon Public Broadcasting showed an olde (1987) video about the lovely, late Princess Grace of Monaco. Thank you, OPB. During the show the word Monégasque was mentioned – more than a few times. Well it turns out that Monégasque is the demonym or gentilic for those folks who live in Monaco; it also refers to their language, etc. (For a related issue, research the difference between the words Toponymy and Ethnonym.) Note: this is driving spell check crazy too. For your edification, there’s a lovely reference to the Monégasque language on

Although fascinated by the language, we were of course, Dear Reader, all ready to apply it to the national flag of Monaco. So, first a little background: Grace Kelley married into the Grimaldi family. Their heraldic colors of red and white are attested as far back as 1339. The national flag was adopted on April 4th, in that palindromic year of 1881. So far, so good. They, well not Grace, of course, selected the proportions of 4:5, so, it looks like this:

Flag of Monaco

Flag of Monaco - proportions 4:5

Nice. Simple. However, on August 1st of that not quite palindromic year 1919, the Polish Parliament, of all folks, adopted the national flag of Poland.

Flag of Poland

Flag of Poland - proportions 8:5

Fairly similar, would you say? Ah, but notice the proportions: 5:8 is so different from 4:5. Right? Well, to be fair, Poland had been using those same red and white colors since the XVII-XIX centuries. Still not as long as the Monégasque, but quite a while. Yet, the location of those colors was not always fixed. That is, sometimes the red was on the top! Furthermore, sometimes the flag includes an Eagle from the state seal. (No eagle-seal animal jokes here now.) Lots of controversy about the length and color of the bird’s talons, arrangement of feathers, crown or no crown, etc. (No worries, we carry flags and patches of Poland’s flag both with and without the eagle.)

End of controversy? Oh, no, Dear Reader. On the 17th of August, 1947 (no jokes), Indonesia – yes that nation on the other side of the globe from both Monaco and Poland – decided to adopt their flag.

Flag of Indonesia

Flag of Indonesia - proportions 3:2

Now the Indonesian national flag is called “Sang Saka Merah Putih”. (Guess that’s because “Merah-Poetih” means “Red-White”. Go figure.) At least no eagles or suchlike.

Let’s all just cross our fingers that Monaco, Poland and Indonesia never go to war against each other. Field identification might be a little tricky. Not to mention that time-honored tradition of flying ones flag upside-down to indicate distress. Goodness.

All that from a public television show? My, how the mind can travel.

smALL FLAGs for Small Countries

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Wedding BellsWhat a clever notion: a customer in the UK came up with the idea that, rather than have “name cards” identifying seating arrangements at a wedding reception, he wanted to use flags to show folks where to sit. Guests will be given a country and then they find their seat – identified by a flag of that country. What fun!

However, and here was a little rub, to mitigate or minimize any biases which guests might have, he asked us for flags for the 52 least populated countries. Well, as the old advertising jingle used to put it, “special orders don’t upset us.” display of smALL FLAGsWe went right to our old friend Wikipedia to get a list of countries showing their population; downloaded that, sorted it in inverse sequence by population and voila! We had our list. Shipping to the UK? No problem. We do it all the time.

Speaking of small county flags, please be aware that we’re now offering flags of the one which Libya used from 1951 to 1969 – and some still do. Flag of Libya - 1951-1969Just now, it’s available in 3×5′ polyester; but you can bet that if the “insurgents” have their way, it will soon be available in many other sizes as well. By the way, politics aside,  most would have to agree that, esthetically at least, this design is certainly more interesting than the one that Gaddafi introduced in 1977. Gaddafi's Libyan flag of 1977Your call. It was/is the only national flag with just one color and no design, insignia, or other details. (Oddly perhaps, we carry this design – if it could be called that – in a wide variety of sizes.)

You were further aware, of course, that Lybia is most certainly not one of those “least populated countries” mentioned above with a whopping 6,355,000 souls calling it home.

Well as long as you’ve read this far, we may as well mention yet another new flag from (sort of) that region of the world. Flag of South SudanThe newest country in the world is now considered to be South Sudan. They were admitted into the United Nations on July 14th of this year. We’re proud to now be able to offer this newest flag in a variety of sizes. However, our 4×6″ versions won’t be available until mid-September. Sigh. Your collection may have to wait just a bit longer.

Oh yes, also not one of those “least populated countries”. 8,260,490 people here. smALL planet indeed!

The Census, Computer and, of course, Flags

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Recently, a friend of ours, Blane Meier of Meier Wealth Management, sent us a little something having to do with flags. But more about that later. Tracking down its source got us to thinking about the US Census, and the results compiled from last year’s efforts.

Census logoAs you well may know, Dear Reader, the United States conducts a census of its people every 10 years as mandated by the Constitution. We’ve been doing this ever since 1790. What you may not be quite as familiar with is that, prior to the advent of the computer, this took a really, really long time to tabulate. What with a growing population and increases in the type of information collected, the 1880 census took nearly 10 years to count. Well, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that this couldn’t keep up. So, one bright fellow, Herman Hollerith, figured out a way to punch holes in paper cards so that they could be read by a machine.

Herman Hollerith

Herman Hollerith in 1888

Tabulation (Census-ese for adding up) for 1890 only took about 2½ years. Clever guy, ol’ Herman. The rest, as they say, is history. Oh, wait. Guess that was history as well. In any event, kindly fast forward to this century and there appear to be a few applications  of electronic computers in our daily lives. And as for the Census Bureau? And what about that curious item our friend Blane sent? Well. It seems those clever folks at the Census are a bit more than (human) being counters after all. Seems they figured (small pun intended) that folks might want to know more than just how many people live in, say, Oregon. So, after “enumeration” (Census-ese for counting) and “tabulation” , they’ve been producing some clever little service – almost blog-like – since what looks like 2006. They call the service “Facts for Features & Special Editions“. Facts for FeaturesCatchy, eh? And, get this, they further explain that these posts “consist of collections of statistics from the Census Bureau’s demographic and economic subject areas intended to commemorate anniversaries or observances or to provide background information for topics in the news.” Thorough. Couldn’t have said it any better.

So which “commemorate anniversary or observance” is immediately upcoming? Yes! The Fourth of July! (Which incidentally and for reasons we don’t fully understand, is celebrated with nearly as much enthusiasm in Denmark as it is in the States. Great, Danes!) Flag of Denmark

Back to the Facts, M’am. The “Facts for Features” to which Blane had drawn our attention (ah, it’s all connecting now, right?) is their entry for “The Fourth of July 2011”. Surprise!


Well, in addition to fascinating tidbits regarding such things as “Fireworks”, “Patriotic-Sounding Place Names” and “Fourth of July Cookouts” (Florida led the nation in watermelon production last year with 750 million pounds), there were also some spicy stats regarding flags. (It always comes to this, doesn’t it?) Specifically:

$3.2 million

In 2010, the dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags. The vast majority of this amount ($2.8 million) was for U.S. flags made in China.
Source: Foreign Trade Statistics <>


Dollar value of U.S. flags exported in 2010. Mexico was the leading customer, purchasing $256,407 worth.
Source: Foreign Trade Statistics <>

$302.7 million

Annual dollar value of shipments of fabricated flags, banners and similar emblems by the nation’s manufacturers, according to the latest published economic census data.
Source: 2007 Economic Census, Series EC0731SP1, Products and Services Code 3149998231

Not exactly a multi-billion dollar industry, would you say? But we do it because we love it. And, by the way, all of our best quality flags of any country are made right here in the good ol’ U S of A.

Waving US flag

Flag Days around the world

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Here in the United States we celebrate Flag Day today. In fact, it’s the 234th anniversary of the old Stars and Stripes. A little research shows that several other countries also celebrate their flag on a special day. Here’s a little list for you:

Italy January 7th
Mexico February 24th
Aruba March 18th
England April 23rd
Faroe Islands April 25th
Poland May 2nd
European Union May 9th
Haiti May 18th
Philippines May 28th
Sweden June 6th
Peru June 7th
United States June 14th
Argentina June 20th
Finland Midsummer’s Day
Pakistan August 11th
Russian Federation August 22nd
Australia September 3rd
Brazil November 19th
Albania November 28th
Scotland November 30th

Did we miss any? Please let us know.

Going Postal!

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

The Universal Postal Union. Did you know there was one? And what a cool “domain name extension”: not .com or .gov or anything as common as that. It’s! Didn’t even know that one existed: it stands for “International Treaties” of all things. And they have a very cool logo as well – although it’s really hard to make out from their website:
Universal Postal Union logo So we did a little research and found a detail of that little globe. Nice, eh? Costumed folks handing letters around the world. It’s really quite lovely, don’t you think?Universal Postal Union logo detail Yes, yes. With the advent of email, there’s not as much of that type of activity going on, but it’s still a very nice design. And here’s a great quote from their website:

Addresses are essential for countries to run smoothly and for their economies to function properly.

Think about it.

So, this UPU outfit is quite the organization. Again from their site:

Established in 1874, the Universal Postal Union (UPU), with its headquarters in the Swiss capital Berne, is the second oldest international organization worldwide.

[Although that status seems hard to verify. That is, try to find out what the oldest is.]

The UPU has now 191 member countries. [The USA joined on July 1st, 1875.]

And just how did we come upon all this fascinating information, you well may ask, Dear Reader? Well, as you may know smALL FLAGs ships now to not only every State in the United States (from where we’re based in the State of Oregon), we’ve also shipped to over four dozen countries – 50 to be exact – so far. When shipping overseas, we pay particular attention to our customers’ addresses. (See “block quote” above.) To verify accuracy and format, we sometimes need to rely on the UPU website. (Thanks, UPU.)  For domestic addresses, we rely on our good old USPS website USPS logoor sometimes White Pages™ White Pages logo
What we’re trying to get to here is how much we care about getting your orders to you as correctly as possible. (Of course we’re also turned on about this whole international thing as well.)

Antananarivo and Lübeck and Flags

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Seriously now, how often have you heard the words Antananarivo and Lübeck mentioned – together? (Now be really honest: how many of you have ever even heard of Antananarivo and Lübeck?)

So the story begins with a friend dropping off some old magazines he thought might be interesting reading. In the July/August 2010 issue (hey, they were old) of the Atlantic Monthly, The Atlantic Logoan article entitled The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty by one Sebastian Mallaby caught my eye. Intriguing title, eh? [Say, thanks to the Atlantic for having the article in full on their website.]

Well, to be quite honest with you, Dear Reader, yours truly may have heard of Lübeck and even have a vague remembrance of the Hanseatic League, Henry the Lion and all that, but Antananarivo was just not in the ol’ knowledge bank. Thank heavens for Wikipedia. [Hope you’re getting involved with their 10th anniversary activities on the 15th of this month. Thanks, Wikipedia!]

Back on track: of course you know how easy it is to be side-tracked whilst crusin’ the web – even with all the best intentions of doing focused (ha!) research. Anything with the word “flag” always sidetracks us, as you might suspect. Well the flag of Lübeck, albeit traditional, is frankly, a bit quotidian.Flag of Lübeck Not bad, mind you, just like a lot of many North German cities.

Antananarivo’s flag however, really knocks some serious socks – so to speak. Flag of AntananarivoEven in heraldic terms (the way coats of arms and such are described) it rocks: “quartered, one and four or a zebu head sable, two and three azure a fleur de lis or.” That means something like: it’s divided in four parts – the top left and bottom right sections are gold (“or”) and show the black basically (sable) head of a zebu (yes! really! a zebu head. How cool is that?); the top right and bottom left sections are blue (“azure”) and show a gold fleur de lis (showing Madagascar’s history with France). [Boy, don’t those heralds have a way with words?] Bet that’s one of a very few flags that sport a zebu head on it.

Oh yes, did we mention that Antananarivo (the name means “the City of the Thousands”) is the capital city of Madagascar? [You probably knew that the adjective for Madagascar is Malagasy. France – French; Germany – German; Madagascar – Malagasy. Go figure. It’s fun to say.] ‘Way back in the day, as they say, pre-smALL FLAGs, we ran a business called Other Lands and sold ethnic music CD’s from all over; a personal favorite was A World Out of Time: Henry Kaiser & David Lindley in Madagascar – both volumes. Love that Malagasy music. [There, see, it can be used in a sentence.]

Now to be fair, these are flags of cities and we don’t do (haven’t done yet anyway) too much with city flags. Of course Washington, DC (in a few products) and our newest embroidered  Mini Patch of New York City.Mini Patch of New York City

Say, I’ve heard that NYC has some pretty rockin’ music of its own.

A flag made of Turbans?

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010
Funk and Wagnalls 1935 Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge

Funk and Wagnalls 1935 Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge

And there we were, minding our own business in the local used book store, when this beauty practically jumped off the shelf as we walked by; and what an impressive title: an “Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge”! Fighting all temptations, we left this one-of-a-kind treasure available for you to purchase by contacting the book store.

What a Deal!

Naturally, Dear Reader, our eyes fell upon Volume XII:  Fichte – Franklin which included entries beginning with “Flag”. (You knew it was going to get around to this, didn’t you?) Lo and behold, we discovered an entry entitled, “Flag of the Prophet”.

We did take a picture of the text for you (hoping the copyrights from 1935 had expired), but this may be a bit small for you to read. So, just for the love of the game, we have painstakingly transcribed the text for you by hand (so to speak). So here, for your entertainment pleasure and edification, is that transcription:

Flag of the Prophet text

Tiny huh?

Flag of the Prophet, the sacred banner of the Mohammedans. It was originally of a white color, and was composed of the turbans of the Koreish, captured by Mohammed. A black flag was, however, soon substituted in its place, consisting of the curtain that hung before the door of Ayesha, the favorite wife of the Prophet.

This flag, regarded by the Mohammedans as their most sacred relic, was first held by the successors of Omar at Camascus; it afterward fell into the hands of the Abbassides, caliphs of Bagdad, and at a later period was brought into Europe by Amurath III. It was covered with 42 wrappings of silk, deposited in a costly casket, and preserved in a chapel in the interior of the seraglio, where it is guarded by several emirs, with constant prayers. The banner unfolded at the commencement of a war, and likewise carefully preserved, is not the same, altho it is believed by the people to be so.

Fascinating, eh? There are a (very) few references to the “Flag of the Prophet” on the Internet, but none so quaintly concise as this. We just thought we’d share. Let us know what you think.