Volume 15 (2008)

Raven-15-CoverAvailable: in print, online (links below)

With this issue Raven continues its standard format: several excellent articles on varied flag topics. Four were presented first as papers at the Association’s annual meeting in 2007; they represent the pinnacle of vexillological scholarship in North America and include the winner of the Captain William Driver Award. All five articles answer questions (or raise more) about the history of flags or a specific flag, about how flags were used, and about some of the deeper issues of flag design. Their scope spans four centuries and four continents.


A Striped Ensign in Philadelphia in 1754?
Peter Ansoff, president of the Association—Annandale, Virginia

The flag of the East India Company has been frequently cited as a possible precursor to the U.S. flag, in part based on an engraving showing it flying in Philadelphia Harbor in 1754. This incisive and well-researched analysis demonstrates that in decorating a view of the city, the artist simply lifted an image of a “Bombay Grab” from an earlier engraving—the ship and flag were never in America.

Also available from PDC


The Oregon State Flag
Carita M. Culmer, retired librarian and former second vice president of the Association—Ashland, Oregon

Oregon’s flag, the only state flag with a different image on its reverse, uses the escutcheon from the state seal and the beaver as its primary design elements. This article, by a native Oregonian, explores the origins of the seal in the 19th century and the flag in the 20th century.

Also available from PDC


Flags in Context:  A Discussion of Design, Genre, and Aesthetics
Perry Dane, J.D., professor of law, Rutgers School of Law—Camden, New Jersey

The Association’s 2006 publication of its flag-design manual Good Flag, Bad Flag inspired a lengthy analysis and critique of its meaning, importance, and limitations, arguing for a more expansive view of flag design. This paper received the Driver Award in 2007.

Also available from PDC


Standard Messages:  Institutional Identity and Symbolism in Chinese Postal Flags, 1896-1949
Lane J. Harris, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and lecturer at Central Washington University—Ellensburg, Washington

The Chinese post office used flags to mark its facilities—buildings and vehicles—during an era when it served as one of the only unifying institutions in an otherwise fractured nation ruled by factions, warlords, and quasi-states. From the “Flying Goose” to the “automatic canceller mark”, its flag designs invoked speed, loyalty, and reliability.

Also available from PDC


The Argentine Flag in Monterey
Gustavo Tracchia, former vice president of the Association, Fellow of the Fédération internationale des associations veillologiques and Ottfried Neubecker Award recipient—Kew Gardens, New York

When the Argentine flag flew briefly over the California port town of Monterey in 1818, it represented not conquest but rather a call to join the Americas-wide revolt against Spanish rule. This article explains the full and complex story behind Captain Hippolyte de Bouchard’s actions.

Also available from PDC


  • Edward B. Kaye, Editor
  • Editorial Board:
  • Scot M. Guenter, San José State University
  • Anne M. Platoff, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • John M. Purcell, Cleveland State University (emeritus)