Maine's Flag Waves!




Little has been written about this subject; I have been collecting data for more than 15 years and have written a 200+ page manuscript I hope to get published some day, The Symbols of the Pine Tree State. (Publishers, take note! Email me!)

Maine has the dubious distinction of being a State where NONE of the symbols as adopted by law are being used in common practice. When displayed side by side, the legal and common symbols are quite different.

Few people know that Maine's first official flag was quite different than the one we see in use today (which is not legally correct according to the act of the Legislature that adopted it). Adopted in 1901 and legal until it was replaced in 1909, the first flag is distinctive (no other flag like it in the world-compare a set of State Flags with the present flag and a set with the first flag); simple (a child can draw it); inexpensive to make (manufacturing costs of approximately 33% of the current flag); and, in my opinion, more expressive of the State of Maine than the present flag (which, by law, is a military color):

The first Maine Flag
First Official Maine Flag, 1901-1909

I have initiated legislation in 1991 and in 1997 to restore Maine's Original Flag but each time it has failed to get out of the State and Local Government Committee.

The flag adopted by the Legislature in 1909 is specified by law to be 4'4" by 5'6", made of silk with the State Coat of Arms embroidered in silk threads in the center, trimmed with a 2" gold fringe, a blue and white cord and tassel, and mounted on a wooden staff that measures 9', not counting brass spearhead and ferrule. There is no flag, not even the Model Maine State Flag in the Adjutant General's Office, that conforms to these specifications:

Official Maine Flag
Official Maine Flag 1909-present

The Official Coat of Arms is that adopted in 1820 by the First Legislature. Attached to the legislation is a sketch, supposedly made by Bertha Smouse, the step-daughter of Col. Isaac Gardiner Reed who was the chair of the Committee charged with the job of coming up with a design for the Seal and Arms. This drawing is the legal design of the Coat of Arms of Maine to this day and was the legal Seal design from 1820 to 1880.

Official Maine Seal 1820-1880; Official Maine Coat of Arms 1820-present
Official Maine Seal 1820-1880
Official Maine Coat of Arms 1820-present

In 1880, after the removal and destruction of the State Seal by the Fusionist Secretary of State following the loss of a contested election, the Legislature ordered a new Seal cut and made it the Official Seal of the State. They also made it a crime to remove or destroy the Seal.

Typically, the Flag as commonly used is 3 by 5 feet or 2 by 3 feet in size, screen printed nylon with the common version of the arms in the center. It is not fringed, not mounted on a 9 foot pole and does not have the cord and tassel attached to it.

Maine Flag as Commonly Used
Maine Flag as Commonly Used

There are no official colors for the arms, so there are considerable variations in flags as used. Particularly in the coloring of the forest scene on the shield. The Model State Flag shows purple trees behind the White Pine Tree on the shield. Other known examples show the trees as yellow, pink, red, orange, and even green!

Maine is one of only two states that has a different flag for Marine use (Massachusetts is the other). For all "Merchant and Maritime" uses, the Legislature adopted a special flag in 1939 and it's first major voyage was on board the Schooner Bowdoin under Commander Donald MacMillian in a scientific journey to the Arctic. This flag still exists and it is at the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine:

The Merchant and Marine Flag of Maine
Official Maine Merchant and Marine Flag, 1939-present

Maine has a "Uniform Flag Law" that regulates the display of US and Maine Flags and their usage in merchandising, desecration and mutilation.

More information on Maine Flags can be found on the Flags of the World Web Site.

See the History of The New England Flag by Dave Martucci for more on the pine tree as a local symbol.

The Maine Symbols Story Continues...

Legal and Commonly Used Maine Symbols

Historic Militia Flags of Maine

Legislative Efforts to Restore Maine's Original Flag

Maine Municipal Flags

Maine County, City and Town Seals

Maine Municipal Flag Proposals by Dave Martucci

Franco-American Flags in Maine

Other Maine Symbols

If you are interested in flags and want to join with other New England Vexillologists, then the

New England Vexillological Association

is for you!

Web design by: Dave Martucci (