Redesigning the New Jersey Flag — Part 2

In a recent post I responded to Brian Donohue’s call for new designs for the New Jersey flag by suggesting it instead of showing the entire achievement of arms on a buff field the flag consist of a banner of the arms, like Maryland’s.

proposed New Jersey flag

In this post I am going to suggest an additional flag design, an ensign, be adopted that can be the basis of flags for state officers and departments.

This proposal is loosely based upon the use by British institutions and territories of flags based upon the red, white and blue ensigns (flags of those colors with the Union Jack in the upper corner or canton, the White Ensign also is quartered by a red cross of St. George), with arms or other symbols added to the fly, said to “deface” (not meant pejoratively) the flag:

For example, the red ensign is the basis of the flag of Bermuda,

while the blue ensign is used by the Northern Lighthouse Board:

ad that practice been followed prior to the American Revolution, the following can be posited as a potential New Jersey colonial flag:

(Note that the Union Jack is the version used before the Union with Ireland in 1801.)

As an aside, here are some flags used by the Continental Army during the Revolution:

Grand Union (or Cambridge) Flag
Betsy Ross Flag

Using the British Red Ensign as a model, here is what an American Red Ensign might look like (based upon the Betsy Ross flag):

American Red Ensign

And here is that flag “defaced” by New Jersey’s arms:

All of the foregoing is by way of setting up the proposal for New Jersey to have its own ensign, which I call the New Jersey Buff Ensign: 

The New Jersey Buff Ensign can then be the basis for several specialty flags, such as for the governor

(The horse’s head is from the crest of New Jersey’s arms and is displayed on the torse (wreath). Please, no comments that the wrong end of the horse is shown.)
(Note that the horse’s head now faces the fly rather than the hoist and the torse has been omitted.)

Redesigning the New Jersey Flag — Part 1

In a recent article Brian Donohue of NJ Advance Media suggested that New Jersey’s flag should be redesigned. He is certainly correct that our flag, which consists of the whole achievement of arms (shield, helmet, crest supporters and motto; technically the “coat” of arms is only the shield) on a buff field is not well-designed.

I am not here trying to be critical of the arms themselves, just the use of the entire display on the flag. Donohue says that it is an example of a  “seal on a bed sheet,” and if you look at a display of state flags, you will see that is quite a common shortcut to a flag. The design is neither simple nor memorable. It is distinctive only in the buff background. (Most states using this pattern have blue as the background color.)

When designing a flag, one should keep in mind that it is a piece of cloth; there may not be enough wind so that it is all readily visible. It should also be easily recognizable. I get particularly annoyed when words and numbers find their way onto a flag.

While I think redesigning the New Jersey flag as Donohue suggests is a wonderful exercise, one need not go to far or look to use entirely new symbols. Instead, I believe that we should look to the nearby state of Maryland for converting the New Jersey’s coat of arms into a simple and memorable flag.

Maryland derived its arms from those of Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore, who was the original proprietor of the colony. The entire achievement as currently used is even more complex than New Jersey’s arms:

I am not here trying to be critical of the arms themselves, just the use of the entire display on the flag. Donohue says that it is an example of a  “seal on a bed sheet,” and if you look at a display of state flags, you will see that is quite a common shortcut to a flag. The design is neither simple nor memorable. It is distinctive only in the buff background. (Most states using this pattern have blue as the background color.)

When designing a flag, one should keep in mind that it is a piece of cloth; there may not be enough wind so that it is all readily visible. It should also be easily recognizable. I get particularly annoyed when words and numbers find their way onto a flag.

While I think redesigning the New Jersey flag as Donohue suggests is a wonderful exercise, one need not go to far or look to use entirely new symbols. Instead, I believe that we should look to the nearby state of Maryland for converting the New Jersey’s coat of arms into a simple and memorable flag.

Maryland derived its arms from those of Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore, who was the original proprietor of the colony. The entire achievement as currently used is even more complex than New Jersey’s arms:

Imagine that design on a white bedsheet; it would have the same issues as New Jersey’s flag.

Maryland, however, did not follow the example of so many other states. It uses only the design on the shield — the actual coat of arms — and uses a banner of the arms as its flag:

Maryland’s flag is rated as one of the best flag designs. I was in Maryland on vacation this summer and I saw it, or elements of it, all over.

Therefore, my suggestion for a redesigned New Jersey flag is simply to use the a banner of New Jersey’s coat of arms:

In a future post I will propose some additional flags using this design as a starting point.