1. Russia, 1858-1883

    It’s hard to imagine (non-communist) Russia using anything but the current flag, but they actually had quite a different one for a while there in the 18th century. The black and gold colours came from their coat of arms, and the white stripe was added to distinguish it from what was then the flag of Austria. The flag was designed under German influence and never really caught on with the Russian public.

    The old tricolour (often called the “Tsarist” or “Romanov” flag) is probably way more popular now than it ever was back in its heyday. Hardline radicals and nationalists have embraced it as some kind of symbol of Russia’s glorious past or something. There’s even a proposal to restore the flag to its former status as the national flag. Probably won’t go anywhere, but it’s certainly a sign of the times.

     
  2. creese:

    Michael Creese, Arizona (2014), oil on canvas.

     
  3. Santa Cruz de Mompox

    Okay come on now Mompox, you and I both know where you got the idea for this one.

     
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  5. Amazonas Department, since 1974

    The flag of this Colombian department perfectly captures the eternal struggle of Man vs. Jaguar. There they sit, immortalized, each preparing to kill the other, but neither ever reaching their prey. What majesty. What ferocity. What grace. Also there’s a star on it.

     
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  7. Champa, 1964 proposal

    The Kingdom of Champa flourished in Southeast Asia for around a thousand years, but hasn’t existed for centuries. In 1964, Cham nationalists tried to reestablish their country by declaring independence from Vietnam, but the South Vietnamese army took control of the region the following year.

     
  8. Happy Mandela Day

     
  9. Chaco Province, 1995 proposal (top); since 2007 (bottom)

    The ’90s were an… interesting time for flag design. This is one of the more out there flags I’ve seen from that decade, and it came very close to being adopted. The design won a provincial flag contest, beating around 120 other proposals (I can only wonder what they must have looked like.) But as soon as it got out there, it was utterly blasted by the public. The outcry was so total that the province passed the flag off the Association of Ceremonial Professionals of the Argentine Republic, who decided in 1997 that it was not appropriate for use. A new contest was eventually arranged, which led to the adoption of a much more traditional-looking flag ten years later.

    (designer: Jorge Alberto Esquível [top], Mario Orlando Gadotti [bottom])

     
  10. I don’t know what happened here but you probably shouldn’t try and repeat it.

    (Source: openlibrary.org)

     
  11. Governor of Oklahoma, since 1957

    The Governor of Oklahoma will not rest until Puerto Rico becomes a state and this flag has the correct number of stars.

     
  12. An interview with Gilbert Baker, the designer of the pride flag. He talks about the origins and the history of the design. Well worth a watch.

     
     
  13. Governor General of the Belgian Congo, 1936-1960

    Now this is an interesting reversal. Normally the colonizer goes on the top left and the colony goes on the bottom right, not the other way around.

     
  14. Funeral Ensigns of Honor belonging to his Late Serene Highness O. Cromwell, 1787

    (Source: openlibrary.org)

     
  15. Iraq, 2004 proposal

    A new flag for a new Iraq, or so the Americans thought. Turns out most Iraqis didn’t appreciate this total break from their national tradition. No pan-Arab black, green, or red, but tons of blue. The flag was roundly rejected and quickly abandoned, and manufacturers who had made thousands of new flags and patches were left with an unsalable stockpile. 

    (designer: Rifat Chadirji)