Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Closing Banquet, ICV 27 at the Royal Horseguards Hotel, London By Maddish - 18:57, 14 Aug, 2017

By Maddish - 18:57, 14 Aug, 2017

The banquet took place in the "Gladstone Library" room, not the real Gladstone Library.  Nonetheless the elegance of the hotel would make the American Country Club look like your average American corner, street bar.  Suffice it to say the it was like jumping in the Mary Poppins Fantasy Fairy-Tale.  We were half expecting the Queen to make an appearance.   

 It was a particularly peacefully, poetic, pleasant, placid, display of pomp.  The feel of a classy crowd of carousing camaraderie was in the air. Suffice it to say to food was good eatin'.  

Ferry service on the Thames is an ancient line of work.  Today, there is an armada of ferries that go back and forth.  They often have guided tours on the outbound trips, towards to sea.  The ferry service flags have a logo similar to the London Underground or subway service.  But for the ferry is has cyan circle on a field of gray with the central horizontal bar with the word 'RIVER' written across.

You can see the famous Cutty Sark in the background, which also has a fine spirit for its namesake.  Additionally you can see a tiny Union Flag on top of the little orange and yellow striped play-light house.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

ICV 27 - Help Desk and other Displays

The ICV UK Flag Institute Staff was a wonderful help.  Organizing such events takes months, time, and hours of dedication.  Everyone was delighted that the red-shirts did such a fantastic job!

Sekhar Chakrabarti sitting at a table, selling patches of India flag and the book he wrote about the flag of India through the postage stamps.  


At the other side tables are vexillologist showing off their work for fun and sales.  Here is Whitney's virtual twin by a few days Alfred Znamierowski.  He is sitting by the flag book that he had written, which gets re-published every few years.

Ronald C. Strachan is standing next to a flag of the Principality of the Hutt River which is in Western Australia.   This 'protest' state was declared April 21, 1970.  This state have no international recognition, yet it is in the same caliber somewhat of the Conch Republic in the Florida Keys. 

Ron Strachan is one of Australia's leading producers of flags for the nation.  You can order flags at:

Monday, August 14, 2017

ICV 27 - Speaker 42: Theun Okkerse

  The 42nd speaker was Theun Okkerse with the paper entitled The obverse/reverse paradox: reading flags differs from reading text.

Okkerse gave a brilliant paper about a new way to view and describe directionality on flags.  Why do we think the "obverse" is attached to the pole on the left?  How does this differ across cultures?  Such issues were dis cussed with delight.

(additional contribution from Ted Kaye)

ICV 27 - Speaker 41: Aleksandr Hribovsek

Hribovsek's paper was entitled The New Association Flag and the Flags of the Officers (Herald Society of Slovenia).

Hribovsek and his colleagues described the new flags of the SlovenIan society and it's offices, in the wake of their selection as hosts for the IVC of 2021.

ICV 27 - Speaker 40: Rob Raeside

Raeside's paper was entitled Sub-National Flags of Canada.

Raeside gave a super talk on the provincial/territorial flags of Canada.  Great detail on their evolution in and around the Maple Leaf Flag was demonstrated.

(additional contribution from Ted Kaye)

ICV 27 - Speaker 39: Attila Istvan Szekeres

His paper was entitled The Evolution of the Szekeler Flag in the Last Four Centuries.

Szekeres gave a history of the flags of Szekeler Land, an ethnic-Hungarian enclave in Romania.

(additional contribution from Ted Kaye)

ICV 27 - Speaker 38: Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg

Muijzenberg's paper was entitled Five Rings to Bring them All: a Presentation of the Olympic Flag.

Peter presented his detective work about the Olympic presentation flag and it's use over time.  He also noted that it has disappeared.

(additional contribution from Ted Kaye)

ICV 27 - Speaker 37: Xinfeng Zhao

The title of his paper was The Flags of Gengis Khan.  

Zhao gave a great talk about the flags used by Gengis Khan, which is considered a part of China's cultural heritage.

(additional contribution from Ted Kaye)

ICV 27- Speaker 36: Nicolas Hugot

Hugot gave us an overview of the vexillological considerations found in the constitutions of the world.  His paper was entitled A Journey Through Constitutional Vexillology.

Interestingly many constitutions make no mention of the national flag.  Often it is that older nations already have a prescribed flag and it is over looked.  However younger nations often have clear descriptions of the flag, a few even provide a graphic.

Hugot pointed out that in the US, only first abandoned constitution, the Articles of Confederation, mentions the US flag.

ICV 27 - Speaker 35: Carlos Alberto Morales-Ramirez

The title of his paper was Zoogeography Vexillology of North America: Exploring Endemic in Sub-National Flags.

Using flags to tech about animals and endangered species was an original paper.  Flags can be used in many ways, certainly education is a valuable aspect often overlooked by vexillologists.

ICV 27 - Speaker 34: Roman Klimes

The title of his paper was Symbols of the Bohemian Olympic Committee in 1912.

Klimes explored how Bohemia (a region in the former Czechoslovakia) created national symbols and used them in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. 

(additional contribution from Ted Kaye)

IVC 27 - Speaker 33: Alan Raullet

The title of his paper was The Third Way of Raising Flags in Brittany.

Raullet examined how in Britainy some flags are designed to hang downward from a horizontal pole, carried in a parade over the shoulder, as a third way to fly a flag.

(additional contribution from Ted Kaye)

ICV 27 - Speaker 32: Tony Burton

The title of Tony's paper was Budgie Smuggling and Flag Mayhem in Malaysia.

Burton gave an entertaining talk about an incident in Malaysia where nine over-exuberant Australian sports fans celebrated by stripping down to Speedos depicting the Malaysian national flag and created an international incident resulting in their arrest.

Although Malaysia is next door to Australia and Thailand, it is a predominantly Muslim nation with strict dress codes.  For instance women visiting this country are obliged to wear a head scarf, Muslim or not.  Thus you can imagine the consequences of a nearly nude Speedo flag of Malaysia display might incur.  

(additional contribution from Ted Kaye)

ICV 27 - Speaker 31: Zeljko Heimer

Zeljko's paper was entitled Historical Origins of Contemporary Croatian Municipal flags, originally given on August 11, 2017. 

Heimer showed how current Croatian Municipalsities are regulated by strict codes.  However if a municipality can show a connection to a historical flag, an exception can be made, allowing certain histoical flags to bend the strict code.

(Additional contribution by Ted Kaye)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

ICV 27: Memorial Service for Whitney Smith

It was during the outing to the Lyndon B. Johnson library that I ended up sitting next to a friendly elderly man.  I was delighted to have a deep conversation and make human contact, since it was my first NAVA meeting; I was feeling rather lonely since I was a complete stranger to everyone.  The odd thing is that the friendly gentleman never told me his name.

The next day, the man I sat next to upon the bus gave a thoughtful presentation at the state capital, Austin, on the future of vexillology.  I then asked the person sitting next to me who that speaker was, and I was told that it was Whitney Smith.

Like in the movies when the hero puts it all together, my head spun in circles as my memories played themselves in virtual-reverse.  Little did I know, that I was sitting next to the man honored today, whose wake created this league of international vexillology. 

A small service was held at Holy Trinity Church, Prince Consort Road, London next to Albert Hall.

The service was lead by John Hall, and several vexillologists spoke about Whitney's legacy as a professional and as a friend.

Here, the flag of Whitney Smith lays at the speakers podium.  It was a solemn service that included the song of one of Whitney Smith's favorite singers, Buddy Holly, Rain in My Heart.

This post and this blog exists here as a testament to legacy of Whitney Smith.  I am forever grateful to him and his family.

I first met Whitney at NAVA's 42nd meeting in Austin, Texas 2008 as the friendly gentleman on the bus.  At the end of the NAVA meeting, I ran into Whitney once again.  I took a photo of him holding my mock book, which you can see on the first post on this blog.

Like Smith, I'm also a fan of Buddy Holly. Coincidentally I attended a play about Buddy Holly, back in 1991, when our marching band visited London; we were selected to play at the Royal Albert Hall and march in the Westminster's New Year's Day parade.  On top of that I stayed at the dorm of Imperial College next to Albert Hall, Beit Hall.

One my favorite Buddy Holly songs is the timeless gem, Everyday 1958.

ICV 27: Flags of The World Meeting

Issues about new software were discussed.

ICV 27 - Speaker 30: Stan Zamyatin

Zamyatin spoke about the various county flags in Ireland with his paper County Flags of Ireland. Zamyatin noted that county colours are often more important than the heraldic icons are symbols upon the various flags.

Stan also noted that the Yew Tree is an ancient symbol of Ireland, which better represents the Emerald Isle rather than the official Oak Tree which can be confused the Oak of England.  Zamyatin pointed out that colours often have a tribal essence that go deeper than the design.  This was demonstrated with sporting flags wearing colours like tribesmen yet being of different nations. 

Zamyatin ended his presetation with a colour act by wearing flag of Portugal with a headband.

ICV 27 - Speaker 29: Uros Zizmund

Two flags and proposals for Slovenia were presented with his paper Two Flags, Two Proposals: a New System of National and Rank Flags of Slovenia.  Typically one flag is proposed to replace an existing flag, but Zizmund presented two flags for Slovenia.  The need for a new flag has arisen since the Slovenian flag looks like the Slovak and Russian flags. 

In addition to the new designs, applications for the military and rank flags were proposed in succession to the newly proposed flags.

Could we be looking at the future flag of Slovenia?  Only time will tell. 

ICV 27 - Speaker 28: Patrice de La Condamine


The subject of women and flags were presented in his paper entitled Flags and the Woman. Condamine focused on portrayal of women on flags.  They can be seem of patriotic or rather "matriotic" heroines, religiously, warriors, motherly images, and many other ways.

He noted that although Islamic statues forbids the portrayal of women in forms, one flag in Egypt has the statue bust of Nefertiti upon it.  Caondmine also pointed out several flags from Nazi Germany and North Korea that used women to inspire and represent the people.

Patrice also pointed out some fun flags, which included the proverbial tri-skelleton flag for the opposing gender the Isle of Woman.  

ICV 27 - Speaker 27: Avelino Couceiro Rodriguez

The flags were discussed about the origins of Puerto Rico and Cubs.  Although Rodriguez was not able to present his paper, in his steed the program coordinator Ian Sumner was able to give a fascinating summary of Avelino's work.

These flags have their origins in by dictation from a person who was Venezuelan. Since many Spanish Colonies were fighting against Spain there was a common sentiment of brotherhood.  However the Spanish Colonies never reached the maximums as they did in the United States or Canada.

Another interesting point was the effect of Fosfenia, in the creation of the these flags.  Fosfenia happens when the after image is retained after one closes ones eyes.  This is easily noticed when one still sees the flash from a camera or when one looks at a bright light.  

ICV 27 - Speaker 26: Ales Brozek

Brozek spoke flags in rowing clubs in the Czech.  Brozek's paper was entitled The Survey of Flags Used by Rowing Clubs in the Czech Republic.

Brozek presented an overview of the flags used by rowing clubs.  Interestingly he showed up flags of rowing clubs for the blind.

It was a colourful display in interesting and unique flags. 

ICV 27 - Speaker 25: David Chkheidze

We saw an overview of municipal flags about the nation of Georgia.  Chkeidze's paper was entitled The Flags of Contemporary Georgia.

Chkheidze noted that the Republic of Georgia's post Soviet flag is an ancient design dated back to Pre-Columbian times.  Georgia's flag is essentially a heraldic flag.  Currently there are 66 districts and 12 self governing cities in the Republic of Georgia.  Chkeidze gave a delightful overview of Georgia's modern day flags that incorporate good design linked to real geographic elements. He also noted that the Republic of Georgia has many local ethnic groups.  Even the touchy subject of the break away territories were included: Abkhazia and Adjara.

Origin of Republic of Georgia's Flag 1367
He also noted the Republic of Georgia is proud of its wine producing heritage, which dates back some 8000 years ago to about 6000 BC, before the rise of the Egyptian Empire and Pyramids.  Also noted was the cross of St. Nino which has its arms on a slight bend.

He said the hardest part about making flags was that people sometimes want to include too much: every historical symbol and icon, making the flags virtual tourist guide maps, which results in very 'ugly' flags.

ICV 27 - Speaker 24: Jos Poels

Poels gave us a paper on evolution of the Gambian flag with the title of Evolution of the Gambian Flag.  

Poels pointed out that the geography of Gambia was due to Imperial powers needs, named the UK and France, who gave little thought to the tribal areas.  Poels also pointed out that the colonial badge of Gambia had an elephant trumpeting on it, and not from the back end.  However Gambia does not have any elephants.  Additionally there were hills on the badge, but there are not hills in Gambia.   Later the trumpeting elephant of Gambia was used on several other English colonies in Africa with letters underneath to indicate which was what.

Jos dedicated his presentation to Louis Lucien Thomasi (1910-1985), who was the designer of Gambia's modern day flag.  Also note that Jos Poel was also present for the birth of South Africa's modern day flag, a fun yet quirky fact.


ICV 27 - Speaker 23: Herve Calvarian


Calvarian presented information about researching flags, as to the ways to classify certainty.  Calvarin's paper was entitled Doubts and Certainties in Vexillology.

Among primary sources for flags comes via written laws and ordinances, archives, photos, videos, and postal stamps.  Secondary sources include vexillological work, dictionaries, reference books, press articles, and testimonials. Calvarian noted that written descriptions can be wildly interpreted.

Essentially many flag designs can be lost in the march of history, being real or not.  But Calvarian established an efficient rubric that allows one to grade the source as to its reliability.

ICV 27 - Speaker 22: Stoyan Antonov

Antov showcased the Bulgarian municipalities.  Antov's paper was entitled Flags of Bulgarian Municipalities.

Antov pointed out that most Bulgarian flags are mono-coloured.  It is also a Bulgarian law that chauvinistic symbols are forbidden.  Unlike the USA, where local municipality flags are essentially unregulated by any kind of higher authority.  It really is up to the people to select and design their own flag.

Since Bulgaria has been a EU member since 2007, a new push for new flags has swept the nation.     

ICV 27 - Speaker 21: Bruce Berry

Bruce spoke about the old green Rhodesian (Zimbabwe) flag and all the modern issues that follow.  Bruce's paper was entitled The Beloved Green and White - (White) Rhodesia's  [Modern day ZIMBABWE] Search for a Unique Symbol of Identity.  

Although Zimbabwe was the first 'white colony' to leave the Empire since the exit of the United States in 1776,  the story of its independence is topsy-turvy.  Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia was considered on the UK's most loyal subjects.  They were the first nation to declare war on Germany in 1939 during WWII, remember that the USA entered at the tail end of of 1941. 

The declaration of Rhodesia's independence was passed with Parliament of UK's consent.  On November 11, 1986 the first flag of Rhodesia was flown, the tribar of green-white-green with a coat of arms.  However many of citizens of black-Rhodesia were terribly upset and saw it as the 'White-man's flag.'   Eventually Rhodesia was of the few colonies to revert to the Union Flag of the UK in 1980 for a short while. 

Today, many of those persons of white heritage who lived though that turbulent era, look back with a  certain kind of fondness for the old green and white flag.  Most white Rhodesians (Zimbabwians) see it in nostalgic, non-extremist, almost friendly cultural sense. 

However many extreme white pride organizations have projected this flag as an inflammatory racist symbol.  This unfortunate reputation was further abounded when Dylan Roof perpetrated the mass murder at Charleston, South Carolina Church Emanuel African Methodist Church, on June 17, 2015.  Roof had photos of himself next to Confederate, South African, and the old green-n-white Rhodesian flag.   Sadly this flag's association with hatred and suffering was further ingrained in the collective mind. 

But surely as time passes, views of the flag will perpetually change. Perhaps its best to focus on the positive?

ICV 27 - Speaker 20: Marcel Van Westerhoven

Westerhoven spoke about, polderboard flags which are flags of local pumping stations that maintained dikes across the Netherlands.   Polderboards were mostly responsible for maintaining water quality control and regulating water flow.   His paper was entitled Polderboard Flags - a Requiem for a Dream.

An interesting fact that Westerhoven states was the popularity of the clover.  According to Marcel the clover often represented dairy farming, since clovers are a favorite item of dairy cows.  Consequently as the clover is a national symbol for Ireland, could this be part of the cause for its popularity in Ireland?  Although the story of the trinity is already set by St. Patrick, maybe dairy farming in Ireland had some influence?

Originally there were about 3500 active water authority pumping stations in the Netherlands in 1850, but now there are only 22 left. It was due to modern technologies that reduced the need so many "Pump-Board Hydrolic Stations." The older Polderboards used beautiful heraldic arms to represent their pumping stations, but modern day Polderboards use logos and 'ugly' logos on flags.   In the old style these flags typically had wavy lines to represent the water and many used the colour blue to indicate water. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

ICV 27 - 25th General Assembly FIAV


The fairly normal congressional meeting, of yeas and nays.  Nothing much to report but business as usual.  The most exciting news brought to the table was China's to host the ICV in 2023.  It was presented by Xinfeng Zhao.  Zhao was responsible for training China flag hoisting staff for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.  If China were selected he promised that everyday would be a new venue. 

However there was one dissenting voice, of Roman Klimes, who protested the politics of China and the situation in Tibet.  There was also some concern that China did not have a strong vexillological society, as Zhao's group was more of a patriotic organization, rather than academically focus group dedicated to vexillology.  Nonetheless, it nearly set that China will host the lovely 30th International Congress of Vexillology.

There was also one call to elect a new president of FIAV, that of Alfred Z as nominated by Roman Klimes

ICV 27 - Heraldry Society of Slovenia

The Heraldic Society of Slovenia presented the pitch to the congress to hose the 29th International Congress of Vexillology in 2021. 

It was a well presentation, with video, music, and splendid colours.  It would have made the current first lady proud, Melania Trump, since she is Slovenian.  In the photo above the Slovenians are holding the potential flag for the ICV 29?  Will it come true?  Only time will tell. 

ICV 27 - Speaker 19: Pluethipol Prachumphol

A short history of the Thai flag was given under the paper History of the Thai Flag.  Prachumphol also showed us that Thailand recently obtained the title for the world's biggest flag in 2016.  Since the Thai flag had reached its 100th year of use in its modern form, his group was responsible with creating worlds largest flag to celebrate its centennial.  Thus on November 30th 2016, Thailand became the nation with the largest flag in the world.  In the image below you can see the world's largest flag being hoisted on three flag poles.  His speaking partner is holding the Guinness World Record's certificate.

The Thai flag has undergone many changes. But the current flag was adopted with the middle blue stripe when the Thais entered on the side of the allies in 1917 during WWI, thus the flag you seen now is the flag modern flag of Thailand.

ICV 27 - Speaker 18: Ladislav Hnat

A plentiful discussion about political party flags were showcased.  Hnat's paper was entitled Party Flags, Colours and Logos in the 8th European Parliament

Hnat focused on the red rose, which has become a popular symbol of the socialist parties in Europe.  Even the UK's Labour party has a red rose in its flag, although the rose is deeply connected to the English history rather than socialism. 

Labour Party Flag Image

ICV 27 - Speaker 17: Cedric de Fougerolle

Fougerolle spoke about the publishers book stamps from a vexillological perspective.  His paper was entitled Ex-Libris and Vexillology.  Those decorative labels on books typically are used to identify the owner.  But many times over a heraldic style coat of arms is used, often including flags.

Fougerolle broke up the these book marks into five different categories: patriotic, military, heraldic, maritime, and artistic. 

ICV 27 - Speaker 16: Ralph Kelly

Empire Flag at Imperial University, The Huxley Building, London
Kelly spoke about the Empire flag of the UK, so appropriate for a talk at Imperial University.  Ralph Kelly's paper was simply entitled A Flag for Empire.

The Imperial flag for the British Empire has been carted to dust bin of history.  But for a little while, persons across the British Empire were encouraged to celebrate 'Empire Day.'  The British were heads and shoulders leading the world with technologies and other important discoveries at the time.  Likewise the connectivity between the colonies were rather strong, at the beginning of the 1900s.

Kelly noted that Empire Day started in Canada, but become a global holiday across the Empire.  Eventually a flag was created to honor this day which featured the coat of arms of Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the Star of India in the center of the cross on white canton UK flag. 

Here is a photo of the Empire Flag being waved at the end of WWII.

ICV 27 - Speaker 15: Alan Hardy

Hardy spoke about new ways to format flags and code for the various national colours.  In an effort to standardize colours and ratios of flags a cutting edge set of new flag proposals for the nations were illustrated.

Notice that Hardy added a yellow ring to the national flag of Bangladesh to provide contrast.  China's flag was given a major zoom in, with the flag of South Korea underwent a major change.

ICV 27 - Speaker 14: Scot Guenter

 Guenter illustrated the various on goings within and the varied approaches to vexillology.  The traditional route according to Scot is the scholarly approach that requires lots of reading and sifting through books.  A second avenue is the active vexillologist who promotes certain ideas, mostly centered on reforming bad flag design. 

Guenter cited Roman Mars as connected to Vexillology in action and discussed the effect of such promotions in the media to cause of vexillology. 

Always giving a delightful and well presented paper, Scot Guenter is a corner stone in modern day post-Whitney Smith vexillology.   Guenter adheres to the original academic aspect of Whiteney's work. 

He also ended his presentation with a homework assignment, that everyone in vexillology should read the thesis of William Crampton, the UK's version of Whitney Smith.   

ICV 27 Speaker 13: Manuela Schmoger

 Schmoger revealed the on going personal efforts to catalogue flags of local municipalities flags in Germany.  It is often a time consuming practice, yet the rewards are compelling.  Often it is that local municipalities are not aware of local symbols.  But Schmoger was able to get most of the local flags charted in Bavaria and publish the date on newer easy to use Wikis.

Schmoger ended the talk by recruiting others to help.

ICV 27 Speaker 12: Roberto Breschi

Breschi discussed how the local municipality flags from the 1860s were rediscovered. 

Breschi ran into an old index book of flags for Italian municipalities.  Although index publications are often less than friendly reading, they are trustworthy resources.  The index that Brechi discovered was dated to 1869.

Apparently several flags were created to celebrate Alighieri's 600th birthday, who was influential in establishing modern Italian; Dante Alighieri was born in 1265.  Alighieri is best known for his work the Divine Comedy 1320. 

Eventually Breschi was able to match up index numbers from a lost collection of flags were literally wafting away in a museum basement.    

Identifying lost flags is a cumbersome process, but Breschi was able to reconnect unidentifiable flags to their celebratory event in 1865, it was true tale of a successful vexillological archaeologist. 

IVC 27 - Speaker 11: Rachel Phelan

Phelan discussed in exquisite detail the preservation efforts of the Irish Republic Flag of the 1916 Easter Rising.  Her paper was entitled What's Up with the Big Green Flag?  The Conservation of the flag of the Irish Republic.   Phelan was charged with honoring and preserving the original Irish Republic flag which is now 101 years old. 

Phelan showed us that flag was captured by the British and treated as a hunting prize, hung upside down in imperial contempt.  However, as relations between the UK and Ireland eased she showed us a short clip of its honorable return to Ireland.

The paint on this historical flag was turning to dust and major distortions were noticeable, which required the use of expensive and impressive machine technologies, something of the gelatine solution was used to preserve the flag itself. 

Rachel also corrected the legendary tale of its creation.  Flag restoration is complicated process that involves many individuals and specific experts.  But Phelan was the lead coordinator to help preserve and establish one of Ireland's Original flags.  It is now under proper care and can be seen by the public at large in Ireland.

ICV 27 - Speaker 10: Ralph Bartlett

The flags of a local artist were featured with his paper Flags by King for Country.  The title is wonderful play on words of the featured flag designer named Robert King Crawford.  Crawford designed several flags for social events in his local community in Australia.  Crawford often used Good Flag principles before the publication of Good Flag, Bad Flag.

It was keenly notes that documentation of early flag exploits before the rise of the internet is important.  Many flags can get lost in the shuffle, but by focusing one persons unique and collection of flags is solid work within vexillology.