Parading the Colors


Charting the Course of Vexillogical History

Contemporary flags charts like this one are a valuable resource for vexillologists. Though they do contain errors and often depict proportions and design details incorrectly, such charts are invaluable for determining how and when historical flags were used. This example, taken from the Russian Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary circa 1900, presents the national flags, naval ensigns and civil ensigns of some of the nations of the world. Of interest is the flag of Annam, French Indochina (first row, third from left): yellow with a canton of the French Tricolor. Also shown are the national flags and naval ensigns of Norway (sixth row, third and fourth from left) and Sweden (ninth row, fourth and fifth from left). The naval ensigns are forked in the traditional Scandinavian manner and all four flags share a common design feature: the Union Mark in the canton, consisting of the Swedish and Norwegian crosses conjoined. The two countries were at the time united in a personal union under the Swedish crown, though in 1905 the union came to an acrimonious end. One prominent error on this chart is the depiction of the Red Ensign of Canada. Note that the Union Jack canton is red and blue only, while the badge in the fly is one of the unofficial variants of the Canadian coat of arms.

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