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Maine Flags Prior To 1909 (U.S.)

State of Maine

Last modified: 2009-08-01 by rick wyatt
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[First Official Maine State Flag] image by Rick Wyatt, 6 November 2008
Maine State Flag, 1901-1909 (Design reconstructed)

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First Official Maine State Flag

On March 6th, 1901, "An act to establish a State Flag" was read in the State House of Representatives and referred to the Military Affairs Committee. It was read the next day in the State Senate and also referred to Military Affairs. The first draft of this act reads as follows:

    "The State Flag is hereby declared to be blue, charged with the Arms of the State in the colors and as described in the Resolves of the State of Maine from 1820 to 1828, Volume I, Chapter IV.
    'Resolve for providing a Seal, June 9th, 1820
    Description of the Device, &c., of the Seal and Arms of the State of Maine.'"
The Military Affairs Committee read their report on this act in the House on March 15 and in the Senate on March 19; this report contained a new draft and was read by Frederick Walls of Vinalhaven with the recommendation, ought to pass. The new draft reads as follows:
    "The State Flag is hereby declared to be buff charged with the emblem of the State, a pine tree proper in the center and the polar star (a mullet of five points), in blue in the upper corner. The star to be equidistant from the hoist and upper border of the flag, the distance from the two borders to the center of the star equal to about one quarter the hoist. This distance and the size of the star being proportionate to the size of the flag."
This act passed both houses and on March 21st, 1901 was Engrossed - Chapter 233 - State Law. No picture of this flag is known to exist and it is not known whether it was much used. It should be noted that one of the earliest military flags of Maine is that of the First Regiment of the Brigade commanded by Colonel Cobb of Portland in 1790 and that its field was buff.
Dave Martucci, 6 September 1996

The image shown above of the First Official Flag of Maine is based on information provided by Dr Whitney Smith at the Flag Research Center. The correct design of the Maine state flag adopted in 1901 has a background color which Whitney equates to PMS 1215 yellow. His information is based on having access to the actual law document.
Rick Wyatt, 6 November 2008


Earliest State of Maine Militia Flag

Shortly after achieving Statehood in 1820, the legislature passed a law regulating the military forces of the State, the Maine Militia. In 1822, the Quartermaster General (QMG) was directed by the legislature to furnish the regiments with the "appropriate colors" of the new State. To accomplish this, they appropriated the sum of $200, which in 1822 could buy one, maybe two, hand painted silk flags for the regiments, which numbered many more than two.

The QMG, however, was a resourceful man. He contacted some friends of his in Boston, who, in turn, put him in touch with the Prang Art Company. They had never made anything out of cloth before but they were experts at printing multi-color designs on paper. They did some tests on some silk (purchased for $2 out of the QMG's own pocket) and offered to make the fifty flags being sought for $200. They were a four-color lithographic print on white silk of the Maine State Arms, the artistic design taken from the Colors of the Westbrook Light Infantry Company (described by the "Eastern Argus" as "the handsomest in the state.") which was painted by John Penniman of Boston, the foremost Military Standard painter of the day. The order was placed and the flags were supplied - The State Arms was printed twice for each flag and one print was appliqued to the reverse of each flag.

The design shows the shield of the Maine Arms with a White Pine Tree and a Recumbent Moose on white with the State Motto "Dirigo" on a ribbon above the North Star (with one point down) over a torse. Below, on another ribbon, is the name of the State, "Maine." Below that is another ribbon that was printed to read "__ Regt. of Infy. __ Brige. __ Div." with space for the insertion of the appropriate numbers of the regiments.

Two existing examples of these flags are known to exist, one in the collections of the Maine State Museum in Augusta and one in the collections of the Maine Historical Society in Portland. In addition, all the official papers regarding their original purchase (and an additional purchase in 1828) are in the Maine State Archives.
Dave Martucci, 6 September 1996