Saturday, 20 August 2016

7. No New Fiji Flag; Belarus

  After deciding to replace the Fiji national flag more than a year ago (see Blog 2) and having selected 23 designs as possible candidates to replace the present national flag which dates back to 1970, the present Fiji government had now announced that there will be no new flag for the foreseeable future. This follows the Fiji Rugby Seven's proud gold medal victory at the Rio De Janeiro Olympic Games which was won under the present flag.

  There has been a recent new stamp issued on 3 July 2016 by the postal service of Belarus which depicts the current flag which was adopted in 2007. The stamp is part of a pair depicting national symbols and an accompanying miniature sheet depicts the national arms with the flying flag. The stamp is printed by hot stamping an thermal embossing on silver foil.
   The country has a long and complicated national flag history.
  Belarus was part of the Russian Empire until 1917 when, during the First World War, German forces invaded Byelorussia and separated it from Russia until 1922. A diverse collection of regimes and occupying forces governed various parts of the country during that period.
  On 18 December 1917, the Byelorussian National  Congress declared the independence of Byelorussia in Minsk while the Bolsheviks established the first Soviet government also in December 1917 but only in regions and major cities occupied by pro-communist regiments. In mid-February 1918 the Germans occupied Byelorussia including Minsk in the latter part of the month. The Byelorussian National Council  formed the Provisional Government of Byelorussia but the Germans recognised the alternative government they had formed in Vilna which declared its independence. In March 1918 the two organisations were reconciled and made a joint proclamation of the establishment of The Byelorussian National Republic which adopted a national flag consisting of a white field with a broad central horizontal red stripe. This flag was eventually depicted on a stamp by a newly independent Belarus in 1992.

  In November 1918 the Germans evacuated Byelorussia and in late December 1918 the Red Army occupied the country and established the Byelorussian Soviet Republic which adopted a flag in 1919 which took the form of a red field, proportions 1:2 with the Cyrillic letters for SSRB in yellow at the canton. 

  On 27 February 1919, Byelorussia was merged with Lithuania to form The Lithuanian-Byelorussian Soviet Republic (Litbel Republic) which flew a plain red flag.

  In April 1919 The Litbel Republic was occupied by Polish forces and declared to be part of Poland but the Red Army defeated the Poles in April 1920 and Polish forces evacuated Byelorussia and The Byelorussian Soviet Republic was reestablished with its national flag reverting to the red flag with the Cyrillic version of SSRB at the canton in yellow.

  In 1922 Byelorussia became a founding republic of The Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). A new flag was adopted for Byelorussia on 11 April 1927 which reordered the Cyrillic lettering at the canton to BSSR and contained it in a red rectangle with yellow edging. This flag was used until 19 February 1937 when it was replaced by another red flag with a small yellow hammer and sickle placed under a small yellow-edged red star at the canton over the Cyrillic letters for BSSR which were also in yellow.

  In 1945 The Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, although not a sovereign state, became a founding member of The United Nations and on 25 December 1951 adopted a new national flag which consisted of a red field, proportions 1:2, with a stripe at the hoist displaying a red and white pattern - the 'national ornament" - and a horizontal green stripe along the flag's base. The flag was depicted along with the USSR national flag on a Soviet Union stamp of 1979. Another example of a depiction of this flag is on one of a set of stamps issued by The USSR in 1967 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

  The Byelorusian SSR flag was also depicted on one of the 16 "Member's Flags" series issued by The United Nations on 23 September 1983.

  With the process of perestroika in The Soviet Union, The Republic Of Belarus was proclaimed to be independent on 25 August 1991. On 19 September 1991, the national flag of 1919 - that which consisted of a white field with a broad horizontal red stripe - was readopted as the national flag although the stamp depicting the flag had been released on 30 August 1991.

However, following the election of a government made up of former communists, a new national flag was adopted on 7 June 1995. This flag was similar to that of 1951 of the Byelorussian SSR but was without the hammer and sickle and star and the red and white pattern of the national ornament at the hoist was reversed. The flag was depicted on a United Nations stamp issued in 2010 on the subject of flags and coins of its member nations. A stamp of Belarus was issued on 3 October 1995 which depicted the new national flag.

  The flag of 1995 was slightly modified in 2012 so that the width of the National Ornament was increased. The flag of 2012 has now been depicted on the new stamp and miniature sheet of 2016 as described at the top of this piece.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

6. New Zealand Votes To Retain National Flag.

  There will be no new stamps depicting a new national flag of New Zealand because the people of New Zealand have voted to retain their present flag by a substantial majority in the national referendum which had cost the country NZ$26 million or £16million to stage. 57% of the people voted to retain the national flag while 43% opted for a new version (see Blog 5). 
  Many New Zealanders complained about the expense involved in holding the long-winded referendum but the prime minister, John Key, who had urged New Zealanders to vote for the new design, drew some comfort from the vote because it had "stimulated discussion". Presumably if he had resigned that would also have "stimulated discussion" but would not have cost New Zealanders a single cent!
  Those interested in flags on stamps now have to wait to see what will happen in Fiji where the government is also planning to introduce a new national flag to replace that flown at present which, like the New Zealand flag, includes a Union Jack in its design. There have been delays in reaching decisions on this in Fiji. See Blog 2. 

Saturday, 2 January 2016

5. New Zealand - The Final Straight.


  As detailed in Blog 3, New Zealand has embarked on a process whereby it may change its national flag which it has flown, with a short break of 2 years, since 1869 - the grounds for doing so boiling down to the need for modernity rather than the recognition of the nation's history.
 New Zealanders began to vote in a national referendum on choosing a flag featuring a "silver fern" or retaining the respected current flag on 3 March 2016. The vote is to last for 3 weeks. Many New Zealanders see the vote being attributable to the vanity of their prime minister, John Key, whom they believe wishes to leave a legacy for after he has lost power, there being little else to remember him by.
  Presently, the evidence is that about two thirds of voters wish to keep the honoured old flag which has represented New Zealand through 2 World Wars and under which many young New Zealand servicemen served. War veteran groups have campaigned strongly to retain the old flag in recognition of this.
  Presumably, if the national flag is replaced, the new banner will be featured on a stamp issue by New Zealand Post to publicise the change in the national symbol.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

4. The Faroe Islands.

  The Faroe Islands postal administration issued a pair of stamps on 24 April 2015 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the territory's national flag which is known as the Merkid or "The Symbol". The stamps depict the Merkid with a view of the islands on the 12 krona stamp and the Faroese mountaineer Arne Vatnhamar unfurling the flag at the peak of Mount Everest on 25 May 2014 on the 11 krona stamp:-

    The issue was designed by Arne Vatnhamar and Andrea Ricordi and printed in lithography by Cartor. 

  The Faroe Islands came under rule by Norway in 1035 but from 1380 belonged to the dual monarchy of Norway and Denmark. In the 1660's the Danes awarded the islands to Christoffer Gabbel, and afterwards to his son Frederick, as a personal feudal estate, but the family's harsh rule caused great resentment in the islands and as a result Denmark took back rule of The Faroes in 1708.
  Towards the end of the 19th century, there was a growth in nationalist feeling in the islands and various flags were considered for use to highlight this growing national feeling. Two notable early flags used the emblem of a ram, the Vedramerkid, which had been a national symbol for centuries (and is currently used as the national arms) and the image of an oyster catcher, the Tjaldursmerkid.

  Illustrations of the 19th century ram flag are depicted in Wikipedia and show that the standing ram facing the hoist was placed on a blue rectangle which was placed on a red field. I have not seen an illustration of the oystercatcher flag:-

 In 1919 three Faroese students living in Copenhagen, Jens Oliver Lisberg, Janus Osserson and Thomas Pauli Dahl, suggested a new design which used the basic Nordic cross design combining the flags of Norway and Denmark. The design placed a blue fimbriated red Nordic cross on a white field. The students had the flag made up and flew it from a student dormitory in Copenhagen called "Regensen" which is now attributed as being the first place where the Faroese flag was flown. 
  Lisberg returned to Faroes in the summer of 1919 taking the flag with him planning to suggest to the Faroese parlament that it be adopted as the national flag but was unsuccessful. Lisberg's original flag is now on display in the local church of his hometown, Famjin. Lisberg returned to Copenhagen and tragically died there the following year from influenza without seeing the acceptance of the Merkid as the Faroes' national flag.
  During the 1920's local shipping began to fly the Merkid and after the British occupation of the islands during World War II, on 25 April 1940, the British Consul, Mr. Mason, announced that all Faroese boats and ships would fly the Merkid. In 1947, 25 April was declared to be Faroese Flag Day and when Home Rule was granted to The Faroe Islands by Denmark in 1948 the Merkid was recognised as the national flag for use on land and at sea.
  During its history the flag has experienced minor variations because of changes in the shade of the blue fimbriations. The first change occurred on 5 June 1959 when a lighter shade of blue was adopted  but the shade was made darker again on 29 December 1998.
  Apart from surcharges applied to 5 Danish stamps in 1940 - 41 during the period of British occupation (see Commonwealth Stamps Opinion 443), Faroe Islands did not issue any stamps until 1 April 1976 when an independent postal service was inaugurated in the territory. 
  The first local philatelic depiction of the Faroe Islands national flag was included in the inaugural set of 3 stamps on the 1.60 krona value. The flag is depicted with the lighter shade of blue then used as fimbriations of the red cross:-

1976 postal inauguration issue.

With first day of issue cancellation

  The national flag was next depicted on a miniature sheet issued on 9 April 1990 which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Merkid. Three 3.50 krona values were included in the sheet - one stamp featured the flag itself and the others depicted local vessels using the flag as an ensign. The stamp depicts the blue as a darker shade than that used on the 1976 stamp but no changes had been made to the shade of blue between the date of issue of the 2 stamps:-

miniature sheet first day cover

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Tuesday, 11 August 2015

3. New Zealand To Choose New National Flag - Long Lists 40 Designs.

"The Black Jack"

Captain Stanley reclaims Akaroa and raises the Union Flag there in 1840.

  The New Zealand government has long listed 40 proposed designs from which a new national flag will be chosen in a forthcoming national referendum.
   The British issued a proclamation on 15 June 1839 which cited New Zealand as part of the British realm. 
  Before the British established a Protectorate in New Zealand, a flag had been adopted by the United Tribes of New Zealand in 1834 which may be viewed as the first flag of New Zealand. This flag was used by the Maori at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 whereby they agreed to the establishment of the protectorate. The flag was white with a Red Cross and in the canton was a similar white-fimbriated Red Cross on blue with a five-pointed star at the centre of each quarter. This flag was derived from that of the Church Missionary Society (depicted above).
  The 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty was depicted on a miniature sheet issued by the New Zealand Post Office in 1990 to commemorate the anniversary and a number of contemporary flags are featured in the illustration but not the flag of the United Tribes (as depicted above).
  In 1840, the French established a small colony at Akaroa and in response the British dispatched a ship, the Britomart, whose commander, Captain Stanley, raised the Union Flag to reclaim British sovereignty in the area. This event was commemorated by the 5d value of the set of 13 stamps issued in 1940 to commemorate the centenary of the proclamation of British sovereignty in New Zealand (illustrated above). This was the first New Zealand stamp to depict a national flag.
  In 1865, the British parliament passed the Colonial Defence Act which provided for "all vessels belonging to, or permanently in, the service of the Colonies" to fly the Blue Ensign "with the seal or Badge of the Colony in the fly thereof". This established the basis not only for individual flags to be flown on the ships of colonies but also to provide them with a recognisable national flag.
  In 1867 the New Zealand government adopted a flag which placed the white fimbriated letters "NZ" at the fly of the Blue Ensign as prescribed in the Act.

   The flag of 1867 was replaced on 23 October 1869 by a Blue Ensign with 4 white-fimbriated five-pointed red stars placed at the fly. 

   From 1900 to 1902 New Zealand flew a Blue Ensign with the 4 red stars placed on a white disc at the fly (depicted below) but on 12 June 1902 the flag of 1869 was readopted as the state and civil flag. It was first featured on a stamp of New Zealand on the 9d value, issued on 1 September 1960, of the then definitive series. Subsequently it was reissued on 10 July 1967 as an 8c value when the country adopted decimal currency (depicted above). The original design had been by the New Zealand Post Office Publicity Section and the stamp was printed in photogravure by Harrison.

  The United Nations featured the flag of 1902 - 2016 on one of its 1986 series of flags of member nations:-

  Below are more designs which have been chosen for the long-list for the new national flag. Although I personally like the novelty of the "Black Jack" designed by Mike Davidon which is shown at the head of this piece with its stylised, Maori-like, version of the Union Jack which places the new flag in its historical context, I suspect that the New Zealand citizens who will choose the new design in their national referendum will opt for one of the designs which feature a silver fern. The first 2 illustrations below of designs by Kyle Lockwood, show examples from the 11 proposed designs which include the silver fern:-

  The inspiration for further proposed designs owes more to traditional Maori art than to the traditional heraldry and flag design which British settlers brought with them to New Zealand and some combine the two. Thus of the latter type we may consider that while "Land of the Long White Cloud" by Mike Archer places the 4 white-fimbriated stars of the current flag at the hoist, the fly has more of the appearance of Maori art. 

Land of the Long White Cloud
  "Curly Koru" by Daniel Crayford and Leon Cayford is a design which uses a traditional Maori spiral pattern, an unfurling pikopiko koru, and represents vibrancy and energy contained in a small place and can be clearly placed in the group of designs which are entirely Maori in origin and have little to do with the role of the British and other Europeans in New Zealand culture:-

Curly Koru

  I presume that New Zealand will have a new national flag in 2016. It will be interesting to see which design emerges from the competition as the new symbol of the country. These are interesting times for vexillologists as we also await the revelation of the choice of the new flag of Fiji. Hopefully both of the new flags will be featured on stamps at an early stage.

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Sunday, 26 July 2015

2. New Flags From Birmingham And Fiji.

  Although this Blog is intended to show national flags on stamps, I feel I should include mention of exciting new flags which have not yet been depicted on stamps or may not ever be shown in a stamp design.
  I have been particularly pleased this week by the announcement from my home city of Birmingham, Britain's second biggest and most important city, that a new flag has been adopted for Birmingham for use by the general public. 
  Previously, the city had been represented by the flag of the city council which is a banner of the arms of Birmingham. The council flag was adopted in 1977 to reflect the city's status as a metropolitan borough and the incorporation of the district of Sutton Coldfield which resulted from the Local Government Act of 1972. The arms were originally those of a branch of the De Bermingham family who were Lords of the Manor of Birmingham from 1100 to c.1527. The Bishop's Mitre represents Sutton Coldfield, being taken from the town's corporation arms, and commemorating Bishop Vesey of Exeter who had lived in Sutton in the 16th century.
  The new flag was the winning entry in a public competition held in early 2015 and was chosen from 470 proposed designs with the announcement of the winning entry being made on 23 July 2015. The flag was designed by 11 year old Thomas Keogh and David Smith and takes the form of a yellow bull's head, which recalls Birmingham's Bullring market, placed on a red field with an abstract yellow letter "B" on blue at the hoist, which when placed on its side, takes the form of the Roman numeral "M" (1000) representing the title "City of a Thousand Trades" by which Birmingham has long been known. 

  Until the 1972 Local Government Act, Birmingham was part of the county of Warwickshire whose flag, like the new Birmingham flag also features an animal - a bear. 
  The erect white bear, in profile facing the hoist and with a red muzzle and collar, is chained to a white staff by a golden chain and placed on a red field under a yellow horizontal stripe on which is placed 3 red crosses. The bear emblem is known as the ragged staff and is part of the arms of the Earl of Warwick. The chief is derived from the arms of the former Earls of Warwick, the Beauchamp family.

  Possibly the most significant new flag of 2015 has yet to be revealed - the new national flag of Fiji which the Fiji government intends to raise on 10 October 2015 to commemorate the 45th anniversary of Independence.
  Fiji became a British colony on 12 October 1874 when King Cakobau ceded the islands to a Great Britain. A stamp which was issued on 9 October 1974 to commemorate the centenary of the cession of Fiji depicted King Cakobau's flag:-

  A flag badge to be placed at the fly of the Blue Ensign for the new colony was adopted in 1877 and depicted a shield on which was placed a mermaid looking at herself in a hand-mirror on a blue background. The shield was placed over 2 crossed war clubs and surrounded by foliage. The badge was based on the Seal of the Supreme Court of Fiji:-


Flag 1877 - 1883.

 A flag badge was adopted in 1883 to be placed at the fly of the Blue Ensign which took the form of a white disc on which was placed a crown with a lion standing on it, all over the word 'FIJI':-

Flag badge 1883 - 1908.

  The 1883 badge was replaced by a new flag badge on 4 July 1908. The badge took the form of a white disc on which was placed the arms of Fiji which were a shield with a chief of a crowned lion passant with a gold coco pod held between its forepaws and below, a St. George's cross quartering the shield. The first quarter depicted three sugar canes, the second a coconut tree, the third a white dove with an olive spray in its beak and in the fourth quarter, a bunch of bananas. The crest was a local catamaran on a red and white striped base with supporters of two Fijiians standing on the motto 'Rere Vaka na Kalou Ka doka na Tui' ('Fear God and honour The King').
  The arms were first featured on the 3d and 8d value stamps of the 1938 to 1955 definitive series and appeared again on the £1 definitive stamp issued on 14 November 1961:-

  The first philatelic depiction of the arms in colour was on the £1 value of the definitive seies which was issued on 15 July 1968. The stamp was designed by E. Jones and printed in photogravure by De La Rue:-

  The form of the Blue Ensign flag was changed on 8 May 1924 by the removal of the white disc and the placing of the arms directly on to the blue field.
  Fiji became an independent monarchy within The Commonwealth on 10 October 1970 and adopted a national flag which was a variant of the former flag wherein the shield was placed on a pale blue field with the Union Jack, said to represent The Commonwealth, at the canton. The first philatelic depiction of the new flag was made on the 10c value of the 4 stamp set issued on 10 October 1970 to commemorate the achievement of Independence. The stamp, which also depicted the Fijian prime minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, was designed by John Waddington Studio and lithographed by Format International:_

 After a military coup on 14 May 1987, Fiji became a republic on 6 October 1987 but the national flag remained unchanged. Other useful philatelic depictions of the 1970 - 2015 flag include possibly the best depiction of the flag which featured on the 45c value of the set of 4 stamps issued on 6 October 1980 which commemorated the 10th anniversary of Independence. The issue was designed by John Cooter and lithographed by John Waddington:-

  Finally it useful to mention that the 1970 - 2015 national flag of Fiji was depicted on one of the 16 stamps issued by The United Nations on 26 September 1980 as part of its ongoing flag series. As usual the issue was printed in sheets of 16 stamps making 4 se-tenant blocks of 4 different stamps so that all 4 different stamps could be collected together by obtaining the centre block:-

Fiji stamp as part of central se-tenant block.

Maximum card, first day postmark 26 September 1980.

  Fiji's national flag design committee has shortlisted 23 designs from which the new flag will be chosen. Flag enthusiasts as well as the people of Fiji now have only a short time to wait before the revelation of the design of Fiji's new national flag and I expect that the release of a stamp illustrating the world's newest national flag can not be far behind.

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