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House Flags

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  • 1 min

By Crusader1307

The term ''House Flags'' is a Maritime term used to describe Flags used by Shipping, Passenger and Cruise Lines (Vessels). They are akin to a Branding Logo and are a very early example of Global advertising. Some of the first examples of House Flags are the original Ensigns used by The Hanseatic League of the 16th Century, followed quickly by The Dutch East Indies Company (17th Century).

 

With the start of the 19th Century, Shipping via The Transatlantic between Countries was a ''boom'' business. Many Steamship and Packet (Ship Type) Companies all vied for supremacy. The more ships meant the more profits. At one point in the mid 1840s, hundreds of known (and lesser known) Companies floated or steamed Millions of USD and British Pounds from Europe to The Americas. Many of the smaller Agencies only lasted a few years (unable to eventually compete with the larger concerns).

 

With the business of Passenger transportation – mostly due to immigration between Europe and The United States rapidly developed, many Shipping Companies ventured into this business as well. Their House Colors were well known, such as The White Star and Cunard Lines. In addition to vessels, House Flags were used to identify Ship Building Facilities (often contracted to build for a specific Line). The Harland & Wolf Yards of Belfast, Ireland are such an example.

 

By the start of the 20th Century, most of the major Shipping Agencies had begun to either merge or cease business altogether. Some would continue as late as the 1950s until most were absorbed into the currently surviving Cargo Lines. Passenger Liners would give way to Cruise Lines (which still use a form of House Flag).

 

There were no set regulations governing a specific type or pattern to House Flags. Most were between 6-feet and 12-feet in width. Color and imagery again were solely the ''fancy'' of The Owner of The Line. Often monograms (letters) were popular and were various geometrical shapes and patterns.