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I have recently started a new collecting focus and that is Mare Island flags.

I purchased my first a couple months ago which was a No. 7 Ensign May 1943. (photos attached)

I have a few questions:

1. Is there a dedicated area on the forum for flag collectors?

2. Are there any suggestions for military flag collector sites

3. Any resource on the Mare Island flag/sail loft?


Thanks and I appreciate any responses!



s-l1600 (1).jpg

s-l1600 (2).jpg


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Hi Bobby,


Nice No 7 Ensign. I also collect flags and wish there was s specific forum subgroup for flags. Many of the other sites have one dedicated to flags. 


I have quite a few Mare Island flags in my collection. They made thousands of flags and really cranked them out during WW2 so they're pretty common, especially signal flags and ensigns of varying sizes. One of the oldest flags I have is a 1904 Rear Admiral No 6 flag that I just bought at an auction. It is really well made and is a testament to the quality of wool flags, properly stored, that Mare Island made. The largest flag in my collection is also a Mare Island flag, a No 4 Ensign dated 1943. Lots of yards of wool in some of these flags!


Happy hunting. 



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Welcome Bobby,


Nice looking flag.. Looking forward to learning more about them and your collection..


Best regards



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Hello Bobby, welcome to the forum.

Your best bet to start would be to do a search here on the forum

in the search bar.

Type in


Mare Island Flags


😉 That'l keep you busy for a while.

Great place to start.



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Welcome! There are some pretty knowledgeable flagheads here! 

There are also some face book pages dedicated to various flags.


I too have several ensigns in my own collection- my goal is to "collect them all" (at least in all of the sizes) but as mentioned they get pretty big (and pretty expensive) pretty quick-


A reached quote from a fellow flag friend (OFW) who sadly recently passed away-


"Flags for Our Navy - Busy Loft at Brooklyn Yard Keeps Fleet's Colors Flying. Keeping its
growing fleet of ships supplied with the proper flags and pennants is just one of the jobs
that is keeping the Navy busy these days. It's a bigger job than you might suspect, for the
Navy needs hundreds of thousands of flags a year, and much of the work that goes into
them must be done by hand, even in this age of machines. If all the flags were of one kind,
the job would be a lot easier than it is. But Navy vessels, in addition to American flags, or
ensigns, as they are known in the Navy, and commisission pennants, must have a number
of complete sets of alphabet and numeral flags for signaling, flags to show when church
services are being held aboard, flags to indicate the rank and command of flag officers
aboard, and countless others. Any ship visiting a foreign country must be prepared to fly the
national ensign of that country when in port. Altogether, the Navy flag makers must make
more than 200 different flags.

The more commonly used flags, such as the ensign, have to be replaced frequently, too,
because in windy weather or when doing duty on speedy craft such as destroyers or
torpeado boats, they may be whipped to pieces in a few weeks. Back in the days of peace
and the depression, the Navy used to repair some of its less battered ensigns, but now
there's no time for that, and wornout ones are discarded.

Most of the Navy flags come from the flag and sail loft of the New York Navy Yard, in
Brooklyn, N.Y., which is the largest loft of its kind in the world. Right now it has close to
475 women working in three eight-hour shifts every day and turning out more than 3,000
flags a week. The Navy's other sources of flag supply are lofts in the yards at Mare Island,
San Francisco, and Cavite, Philipine Islands.

More ensigns than any other kind of flag are made at the New York yard, because the
demand for them is greatest. These range from two feet to as much as 36 feet in length,
though only a few of the latter size have ever been made. With the aid of special sewing
machines, average size ensigns can be turned out at a rate of 30 or 40 an hour. To simplify
their manufacture, the work is broken down so that one person performs only one
operation on each flag, and then passes it along to someone else.

Red and white bunting is laid out on a 50-foot-long table, sometimes as much as 50 layers
of it, and cut into strips for the stripes with electrically driven rotary knives. These are then
sewn together with a double-folded seam so that there is no danger of the seam ripping or
leaving exposed edges which might fray in the wind.

Stars for the "union" of the ensign are cut from white wool bunting with a stamping machine
which punches out 50 stars at a clip. These are pasted on each side of the blue field to hold
them in place while they are stitched on. Union and stripes are then sewed together, canvas
bindings, halyards, and hooks are fastened to the staff side in a single operation and the flag
is complete.

Throughtout the operation, in accordance with Navy regulations which state that no U.S. ensign
shall be allowed to drag on the deck, floor, or ground, the flags are kept off the floor. If they are
so big that they cannot be kept on the sewing-machine table while they are being made, paper is
spread on the floor to catch the folds that fall.

One flag which does not have to be made often is that of the President of the United States. When
there is a call for one, however, it takes a skilled worker two full weeks to turn it out. The flag is
a square blue field with yellow-tasselled border, four white stars in the corners, and the President's
seal embroidered in the center. Part of the design of the seal is embroidered with a special sewing
machine, but the more intricate parts must be made by hand. The flag is made of silk instead of
bunting, and consequently wears much longer. Silk is used as well for special flags of cabinet
officers and high-ranking Navy officers.

Probably the easiest flags to make are the international code flags and pennants. Most of these
are combinations of two colors, and the flags representing the letters of the alphabet are just a
bit longer than they are high, while the numerals are all long, tapered pennants.

Even here, however, it would be possible to stitch the pieces together wrong. In the letter H,
for instance, which is two vertical stripes, one white and one red, the white stripe must always
be placed so that it will be next to the staff when hoisted. In the letter Y, made of alternate
diagonal stripes of red and yellow, the upper corner at the staff side must be yellow, and the
stripes must run upwards from the staff to the opposite side. To prevent mistakes in making
these flags, copies of them are painted on the walls of the loft, together with various Navy
signal flags denoting formations, maneuvers, and courses.

When the flagmakers are not busy stitching bunting or silk flags, they are put to work making
boat cloths, to drape over the seats of small boats and keep the officers' uniforms clean; green
wool covers for the tables in the wardrooms; upholstery for officers' quarters; curtains, and
occasionally even pillow cases.

Not long ago the flag and sailmakers loft had to be moved to a larger building, because there
wasn't room enough in the old quarters. Now the Navy Yard officials are looking around for
still more room. A two-ocean Navy is going to use just about twice as many flags as a one-
ocean fleet, and it looks as though the Navy flag makers are going to have their hands full
for some time to come."
(Above) Source: Popular Science Oct 1941, pages 49-51.

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