Last modified: 2016-09-21 by ian macdonald
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image by Eugene Ipavec, 15 Jun 2006
The City of Melbourne flag is a (roughly) a banner of arms. The arms are described at this page on the City of Melbourne website:
"On a silver shield, a red cross (the cross of St George) with a narrow red bar (known as a cotise) is adjacent to, and parallel with, each side of each arm of the cross. On the central part of the cross is a Royal Crown. Also on the shield, in the four quarters, are: a fleece hanging from a red ring; a black bull standing on a hillock; a spouting whale swimming in the sea; and a three-masted ship in full-sail."At the bottom of the page is a photo of what appears to be the reverse of the flag.
image by Eugene Ipavec, 15 Jun 2006
I have come across a slightly unusual version of the City of Melbourne flag. Instead of the in the third quarter the whale appears in the second, having switched places with the bull. I suppose this could be a flag based on an earlier version of the arms, but the crown does appear to be St Edward’s crown indicating a post 1953 date.
It is a small car flag and I wonder on whose car it would be displayed?
Mattias Hansson, 2 June 2006
The Lord Mayor of the City of Melbourne (Vic., Aust.) does sometimes use a
"Car-size" flag when driven to official functions. The difference in location
for two of the elements on this flag, as reported, is that this flag was based
on the City Arms used between the 30 January 1940 and 18 March 1970. It was
decided to swap the Bull and Whale so that the sea symbols would appear on the
same (lower level), with the land symbols on the same (upper level).
Ralph Bartlett, 11 June 2006
I am familiar with the old coat of arms, where the whale appears in the top
right, as this form appears in many very durable forms around the city on
lampposts and such. However this form was eventually pointed out to them as an
embarrassment, as the presence of 'water' above the ship made the ship,
heraldically, a submarine.
I think you might agree that a three-masted submarine in full sail is a little ridiculous. I don't know that this situation was what motivated the change in 1940, but as it is the only change to the flag I strongly suspect it to be the case.
Karen Groves, 20 October 2013
The two image versions of the City of Melbourne Flag shown here are based
upon extensive researching conducted by myself and others, over many years.
The flag itself is based upon the Shield of the City's Coat-of-Arms, first designed as Seal in 1843, but not officially granted as a full Coat-of-Arms, by the College of Arms (London), until the 30 January 1940. The Arms, and therefore the City Flag, were modified on the 18 March 1970, by swapping the positions of the Bull and Whale, so that the two land animals appear on the same horizontal level, with the two sea features appearing below on their own same horizontal level. The reasoning for this change suggested by Karen Groves is a possible "realistic" reason.
I believe that the City of Melbourne Council decided in 1970 not to remove the various renditions of the earlier Coat-of-Arms from around the central city area, as they had become both decorative and historical features of the City's history. As someone who was born and raised in greater Melbourne, and has worked for the last 30 years in the City's central business district, these decorative lamp posts and street power box doors are a lovely feature for both residents and tourists to enjoy.
Ralph Bartlett, 20 October 2013
Mossgreen Sporting Memorabilia has items for Melbourne at
following pages. At the bottom of that page are two sets of Melbourne pennants.
At the next page,
http://www.mossgreen.com.au/m/view-auctions/catalog/id/190/?page=16, we see
some more pennants, and then "Pair of Flags/Wall hangings with Melbourne
Now, all of those might not qualify as flags, but the same index page also shows: "Official's Car Pennant, with Melbourne Olympics emblem". This shows an approximately 1:2 black and white flag with an orthogonal split, with hoistward half of the flag sporting the emblem of the games and in the flyward half the word "official" in capitals (see http://www.mossgreen.com.au/images/lot/2258/225880_0.jpg).
Both cases come with documentation, apparently, though the documents aren't on-line on a readable scale.
Also at Mossgreen's,
street banners for Melbourne's 1996 bid.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 14 August 2016
It seems that this is also a related flag to those Olympics, a "Courtesy"
http://www.realmemorabilia.com.au/Hot-Items/FLYING-HIGH). Picture caption
reads: "Sixty-plus years ago - 1956 - Melbourne hosted the Olympic Games. Unlike
the 2000 Sydney Olympics, comparatively few collectable items were issued -
although quite a number were released unofficially. These days, there would be
huge fines for selling unapproved merchandise. There is the famous case from
those earlier times where the Olympic Hotel (sited near the original Olympic
Village) simply turned the Olympic Rings upside down on its signage - and got
away with it for years! This flag flew from Melbourne's W-Class trams in 1956,
suggesting that the locals show some courtesy to all overseas and interstate
visitors. Mounted on a sturdy pole, this flag would have been shown for the
entire ten days of the Games. Price today? Hard to determine, but there are
plenty of Olympic collectors, so I'd reckon $300 plus."
Esteban Rivera, 14 August 2016