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|