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Mare Island US Ensign, No. 12


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Thought I'd share this... I've had it for a couple of years and I'm finally getting around to framing it. In order to properly display it, I'm going to have to hang it longways which will also show the name stamping. It measures about 17" x 30" and is a nice size for display.

 

It was made during WWII at Mare Island, a Naval Shipyard near San Francisco. Mare Island supplied most, if not all, of the Pacific Fleet flags, including the two that were used during the "Flag Raising" on Mt. Suribachi.

 

I think this is probably a mid-war made ensign. Early ones were made with brass grommets, this one has zinc coated steel as you can see from the rust stains. I've read that In order to keep up with demand and save on costs, some late war examples will have only 2 grommets and the stars painted on in rubber paint.

 

This is the smallest made ensign, a No. 12 and were typically used on small naval craft such as launches. I've also read that this size might have been used on PT boats as well.

 

If anyone has similar ones and would like to post them, please feel free to do so!

 

Also, the same goes for posting small craft photos showing this smaller size naval ensign. I'd love to see 'em !

 

Thanks for looking!

 

 

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  • 4 years later...

Bringing this back... with some new questions.

 

In reading about the Mare Island flags, I see that most all of them are dated.  Does anyone have any thoughts as to when this one might have been put in use?  All along I have assumed this was a WWII Era ensign.

 

It has four grommets which I believe points to being used by the Navy... the grommets are rusty and magnetic, zinc and not brass.  It has a bit of staining and the white appears to be a grayish color (grease or diesel stains?). The fly has had the last inch or so turned up and sewn (reinforcement?  I see no fraying on the end) - length is 30 3/8”.  Whoever hemmed it, did it a long time ago.

 

Thanks for your comments.

 

 

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Great flag, I must have missed your earlier post. 

 

Everything you've said is correct based on my knowledge. The zinc was used to save brass and helps date the manufacture to wartime. We will never know if this was a surplus flag flown in 1948 unless you have history on it. A #12 is the most desirable simply because of its size, it is easier to frame. I love the grommets on yours, nothing rusts better than salt air on the Pacific. If I had to venture a guess, I would put your flag at the first half on 1943. As you say, the painted stars and fewer grommets came later. I have at least two that I'll try and attach soon to this thread. 

 

The two main Iwo Jima flags were a #11 and later a #7, both made at Mare Island.    

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These are my two #12's. Both are the same except one has heavier wear. By 1944, when these were made, they only used two grommets. I guess they thought that two were sufficient due to the flag size. Both of these also have the painted stars which was a time saving technique because of demand. 

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Only speculating but...

 

This is a small flag and perhaps they didn't feel there was enough room between grommet 3 and 4 to place a month and year.  Perhaps it was a weak stamp to begin with and it has faded being exposed to sea air or perhaps just an error/mistake.  In any case it is a great WW2 era produced flag that I would gladly take off your hands. 

 

From handling many of these I know that it is stamped before the grommets are added. I'll try and find a #11 around here and see how much space the lettering takes since it is probably the same size font.  

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I have been following this thread for a while, and finally got around to taking a couple shots of the #12 in my collection. These are neat little flags. This thread has helped me better understand the one I have, as I always thought mine was early pre WWII maybe WWI. I now know that the two zinc grommets and painted stars date it late WWII, maybe around 1944.

 

Here is the big question....can any body tell me what the "Victim" stamp on the fly refers to? It looks period. Thanks, Kevin

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I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

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Well I've never seen a "victim" stamp like that on any flag I've handled, very strange.  I can't see any military purpose and think it was likely done years later. 

 

Interestingly, your flag's printing is identical to the first posted flag. Yours of course has painted stars and only two grommets. My feeling is that digi-shots flag is from the first half of 1943, Warguys' flag is from the second half of 1943 and my two are during 1944. 

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Thanks for the info. I gotta tell you, the Victim stamp has to have a story, and my bet is some legitimate military purpose. I will look closer, it is hard to read especially toward the end, and especially the letter T. Does VICIIM mean anything to anyone?  I thought maybe a ships name, but doubt it. Then I thought maybe the vets name. Someone stamping it years later just doesn’t make sense to me either. Several years ago a forum member specializing in flags saw this and tried hard to get me to sell it. Wish I would have ask3d him what this meant. Might remain a mystery. Thanks again. 

I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

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2 hours ago, dhcoleterracina said:

There was a great collector on the WAF known as OFW. He was a true gentleman and had great knowledge about flags. Sadly he passed away this year. We could use him now. 

 

Quote

OFW was the one who had previously contacted me on the flag and was interested in buying. I heard of his passing recently, a real loss to the collecting community. I agree and have done the same thing with this stamping, looked at it every which way. But it makes equally no sense as to why someone would come along and stamp that on the fly in the post WWII years. There has to be some reason behind this. 

 

HThanks for the info. I gotta tell you, the Victim stamp has to have a story, and my bet is some legitimate military purpose. I will look closer, it is hard to read especially toward the end, and especially the letter T. Does VICIIM mean anything to anyone?  I thought maybe a ships name, but doubt it. Then I thought maybe the vets name. Someone stamping it years later just doesn’t make sense to me either. Several years ago a forum member specializing in flags saw this and tried hard to get me to sell it. Wish I would have ask3d him what this meant. Might remain a mystery. Thanks again. 

I am eagerly collecting Pre-WWII USMC material. Any Marine Corps Span Am era, WWI, Banana Wars, or China Marine related material is especially sought after.

donation2015.gifdonation2016.gifdonation2019.gif

 

 

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A #12 seems too small for a PT boat but I really don't know for sure. Anything's possible especially when you are short of flags and need to fly something. If I had to guess, I would say an 11 is about the right size for a PT boat but a larger size isn't out of the question. Very nice 11 by the way Kurt.  I've always heard that 12's were for tenders. The first Mt. Suribachi flag was an 11 that probably came from a landing craft. 

 

Slightly off the subject...the second flag flown on Mt Suribachi, the famous Rosenthal flag, was "scrounged" from a nearby ship when they decided that something larger needed to go up. That ship got that famous flag in Pearl Harbor when guys were sent out to grab things they needed from damaged ships. That flag was already damaged when they grabbed it. It's a ring top/buckle bottom configuration. However the buckle part had been cut off and someone attached another ring to the bottom corner. So it's a ring top/ring bottom that they made work.

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