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House Flags of U.S. Shipping Companies: H

Last modified: 2013-12-07 by rob raeside
Keywords: united states shipping lines |
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Halcyon SS Co.

[Halcyon SS Co.] image by Joe McMillan

Halcyon SS Co (Source: [stg71])
I know nothing about this company. Flag was white with red bands along the upper and lower edges and a blue lozenge with the letter H in white.

Joe McMillan, 18 October 2001

Handy & Everett

[Handy & Everett] image by Joe McMillan

Handy & Everett, New York (ca. 1850s)
Another 19th century sailing ship firm, from a painting of the "David Crockett," built in 1853 and one of the fastest of the California clippers. Flag was an attractive W-R-W horizontal triband with a large black disk overall on the center.

Joe McMillan, 18 October 2001

Harbeck & Co.

[Harbeck & Co.] image by Joe McMillan

Harbeck & Co., New York (Source: PSMNY)
Another mid-19th century sailing ship firm. Another distinctive flag: yellow with a black saltire.

Joe McMillan, 18 October 2001

Hart Line

[Hart Line]

A steamship pass recently withdrawn from eBay concerned the Ocklahawa and St.Johns Navigation Co. or Hart Line (aka Hart’s Line or Hart’s Daily Line).

Hubbard L. Hart, owner since 1855 of a stagecoach route connecting Palatka and other towns to Tampa, Florida, decided in 1860 to invest in river transportation and founded a firm of his own: the Ocklahawa and St.Johns Navigation Co. (Hart Line). Odd in appearance, the ships were specially built to navigate the narrow and winding rivers. The Civil War period was a setback (the firm was temporarily based at Orange Springs and at least one contraband-carrying vessel was captured). The tourist trade proved a growing and profitable business, but Palatka – now well-connected by sea-going routes and railroads to the outside world – was an important harbour for goods as well. For a time, the company was able to withstand railroad competition.  Hart, whose concerns had by now become diversified, died in 1895; the Hart Line was incorporated in 1901. The end came in 1920 as a result of growing automobile competition.

The Hart Line house flag was white with a canting red heart in the centre (extract from steamship pass attached as < us~hart1.jpg> . Apart from this rectangular flag a long pennant seems to have been in use as well. See:^023.jpg. This pennant was used as a jack.
Jan Mertens, 22 December 2005

Hawaii Textron

[Hawaii Textron] image by Joe McMillan

Hawaii Textron (1956-59) (Source: [u9s61a])
This was a short-lived attempt by the Textron conglomerate to take on Matson Navigation's dominance of the Hawaii market just before Hawaiian statehood. In Rene de la Pedraja's words, "the promoters did not burden Textron with inconvenient historical facts such as the failure of the previous challengers." Textron quickly decided to cut its losses and go back to businesses it knew something about. The flag was a W-V-W horizontal triband with a large red H overall.

Joe McMillan, 18 October 2001

Hess Tankship, Hess Oil Co.

[Hess Tankship]     [Hess Oil Co.] images by Joe McMillan

Hess Tankship, Perth Amboy, NJ. Source: US Navy's 1961 H.O.
Hess Oil Co. Source: Stewart & Styring (1963)
Leon Hess was probably the last of the self-made oil billionaires. The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Hess started his empire during the Great Depression while still in his 20s buying residual oil from refineries (the leftovers after gasoline and other light products had been run off), loading it on his truck, and selling it to hotels and other businesses as heating oil. He eventually built up his empire to embrace exploration, refining, and retail sales and finally took his company public in 1962. He bought out the British company Amerada Petroleum in 1969, forming the company that today is Amerada Hess. Leon Hess died in 1999, but his company continues in business. Its tanker business includes six vessels with a total of 282,000 total deadweight tons. The Hess colors are green and yellow. The house flag in US Navy's 1961 H.O. was solid green with the name HESS in yellow. The 1963 version in Stewart & Styring (1963) was white with the name in green and two yellow brackets around the name (I can't describe it any better--see the image above. Neither of these matches the current logo, although the 1963 flag is generally similar.

Joe McMillan, 18 October 2001

S. Hicks & Co. Liverpool Line

[S. Hicks & Co. Liverpool Line] image by Joe McMillan

S. Hicks & Co Liverpool Line, New York
Not much information on Hicks & Co. It was established in the 1820s and ran one of the early packet services between New York and Liverpool, but I don't know how long it lasted. The flag resembled that of the Black Ball Line but in different colors: a blue swallowtail with a red disk.
Source:  chart of "Private Signals of the Merchants of New York"

Joe McMillan, 19 October 2001

Hillcone SS Co.

[Hillcone SS Co.] image by Joe McMillan

Hillcone SS Co., San Francisco
A small line operating in the Pacific from at least the post-World War II period through the early 1960s. Flag red with a large white lozenge bearing a black H.
Source: US Navy's 1961 H.O.

Joe McMillan, 19 October 2001

Hind, Rolph & Co.

[Hind, Rolph & Co.] image by Ivan Sache

1911 Lloyd's Flag Book shows H(e?)ind, Rolph & Co., San Francisco. The flag is white with a blue border and HR&CO. (red) in the middle.
Ivan Sache, 24 January 2004

Howland & Aspinwall

[Howland & Aspinwall] image by Joe McMillan

Howland & Aspinwall (New York) (1826-1895)
One of the dominant New York-based houses in China shipping in the mid-19th century. Both the Howland and Aspinwall families had been involved in seafaring enterprises in New England since before the American Revolution. The firm that would become Howland & Aspinwall was established as G. G. & S. Howland before 1826 to carry on trade with Cuba and later to England, Le Havre, and the Mediterranean. William H. Aspinwall, who was married to the sister of the Howland brothers, joined the firm in 1832, which led to the changing of the name and the expansion of its business to the Far East. Howland and Aspinwall pioneered the new clipper design technology in the 1840s and its China clippers, such as the "Rainbow" and the "Sea Witch," were famous for establishing speed records ("Sea Witch" 74 days, 14 hours from Hong Kong to New York in 1849). Howland and Aspinwall also established the Pacific Mail Steamship Company in 1848, to connect the Isthmus of Panama to San Francisco, fortuitously putting the firm in an ideal position to profit from the discovery of gold in California the following year. W. H. Aspinwall later established the Panama Railroad across the isthmus, with its Atlantic terminus at Aspinwall (now Colon). Aspinwall was also a major benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and a founding member of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The Howland and Aspinwall house flag was divided quarterly, blue and white, with a white cross overall, bordered in blue on the white quarters. Lloyd's Register of American Yachts for 1972 showed this flag still in use as the private signal (house flag) of Lloyd Aspinwall.
Source:  chart of "Private Signals of the Merchants of New York"  and multiple photos of paintings in various books.

Joe McMillan, 19 October 2001

Hubbard & Co.

[Hubbard & Co.] image by Joe McMillan

Hubbard & Co., New York
Nothing on this mid-19th century New York firm except the very attractive flag, quarterly blue and red with a white cross overall, rather like that of the Dominican Republic.
Source:  chart of "Private Signals of the Merchants of New York"

Joe McMillan, 19 October 2001

Is there source enough to determine we're not just looking at an Dominican Republic Pilot Flag?

Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 20 October 2001
I think so. The source, which I've been citing as a chart of "Private Signals of the Merchants of New York" is a chart entitled Private Signals of the Merchants of New York, published ca 1850 in New York and reprinted in the Time-Life book "The Clipper Ships." I believe the compilers of the chart would have had
reasonably solid info on the flag used by Hubbard & Co and would not have taken a Dominican Republic pilot jack for the house flag.

Joe McMillan, 20 October 2001

[Hubbard & Co.] image by Neale Rosanoski

The simple answer is that the flag as shown is incorrect. The source noted shows it as a swallowtail!
Neale Rosanoski, 6 August 2004

Hudson River Navigation Co. (Night Line)

[Hudson River Navigation Co. (Night Line)] image by Joe McMillan

Hudson River Navigation Co. (Night Line) (1902-1939), New York
One of a number of steamboat lines running up and down the Hudson River between New York and the Albany area. Formed by merger of two earlier lines, the People's Line and the Citizens Line, in 1902. The term "Night Line" referred to the time of departures upstream--there was also a Day Line and an Evening Line. The flag was white with blue stripes at the top and bottom and an elaborate monogram of the company's initials on the center in red.
Source: (no longer available)

Joe McMillan, 19 October 2001

Hudson Day Line

[Hudson Day Line] image by Joe McMillan

Hudson Day Line, New York (1863-1980)
Another riverboat line running from New York City to Albany during the daytime, as the name suggests. The flag was white with the name "Day Line" in blue and red upper and lower edges.
Source: National Geographic (1934)
Joe McMillan
, 22 October 2001

Variant flags

The house flag of the venerable shipping company Hudson River Day Line presented is completely in line with what we see here (house flag in the cloth and painted on the funnel – click fourth photo on page): This 1909 b/w photo shows the ‘Robert Fulton’ flying, next to her nice onomast (name flag), a similar item with the name “DAY LINE” in upper case: (Flickr photo made (uploaded?) by “Jasperdo” on 27 Jan 2008).

[Hudson Day Line] image located by Jan Mertens, 17 April 2011

Another variant is a tapering swallowtail, name also in upper case, appearing on a 1901 menu which is an item of the NYPL Digital Library, easily found by entering “day line” in the search box here:
Jan Mertens, 17 April 2011

Hudson River Line

[Hudson River Line] image by Joe McMillan

Hudson River Line, New York
A burgee shaped flag with red upper and lower edges and the initials of the company. This may well be an earlier flag of the same company as the Day Line mentioned above.
Source: Reed (1896)

Joe McMillan, 22 October 2001

Hudson Waterways Corporation

Hudson Waterways Corporation was owned by Pack and Kahn, the ships of their fleet had a PK emblem, the "P" being printed backwards and attached to the "K".

Hudson Waterways was formed in 1961 and was active for several years in the tanker trade. They were associated with and or owned by Transeastern Associates and Seatrain Lines. They also owned Manhattan Tankers which operated the super tanker Manhattan, later leased to Exxon on a bare boat charter to make the icebreaker run through the Northwest Passage in the early '70's.
Don Martin, 12 January 2012

E. D. Hurlbut & Co.

E. D. Hurlbut & Co., New York
Hurlbut and Co., founded in 1825, was one of the most important coastwise shippers carrying raw cotton from ports on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico to mills in the northeast before the American Civil War. By 1846, Hurlbut had 13 vessels in service and a ship sailing every ten days. In the late 1850s the company expanded into the transatlantic market with service to Antwerp and Le Havre. When "Private Signals of the Merchants of New York"was printed in about 1850, Hurlbut was running three lines with different flags:

Mobile Line

[E. D. Hurlbut & Co.] image by Joe McMillan

The first and most important, to Mobile, Alabama, the second busiest cotton port after New Orleans. Flag a white swallowtail with a blue cross.
Source:  chart of "Private Signals of the Merchants of New York"

Joe McMillan, 22 October 2001

Apalachicola Line

[E. D. Hurlbut & Co.] image by Joe McMillan

To Apalachicola at the mouth of the Chattahoochee River on the Florida Gulf coast. Flag the reverse of the Mobile Line, blue swallowtail with a white cross.
Source:  chart of "Private Signals of the Merchants of New York"  

Joe McMillan, 22 October 2001

Pensacola Line

[E. D. Hurlbut & Co.] image by Joe McMillan

To Pensacola, Florida. Flag a white swallowtail with a red cross.
Source:  chart of "Private Signals of the Merchants of New York"

Joe McMillan, 22 October 2001

Huron Transportation Co.

[Huron Transportation Co.] image located by Jan Mertens, 24 September 2005

The house flag of the Huron Cement Co.’s steamship division (seat, or one of the seats, being Detroit) can be found on this page. This flag is rather frayed at the fly but let us suppose it was rectangular. White, bearing what must have been the company mark: a blue ring containing two white circle segments above and below, leaving a red area with the word HURON in white. I’ve seen this mark being described as the “cement bag”.

A venerable firm, Huron (Portland) Cement Co. (founded 1901 I believe) was bought by National Gypsum Co. (1965) and that company, in its turn, was bought by Lafarge Corp. early 1987. Ships continued sailing ( "Inland Lakes Management was formed in March of 1987 to operate and manage
the Huron Cement (National Gypsum) fleet following the purchase of National Gypsum by Lafarge Corp.  on January 1st, 1987." In fact, a new cement carrier is being built now for American Transport Leasing, a subsidiary of Lafarge which is Canadian in origin but now has its headquarters at Herndon, Virginia (US).

Some sources, concentrating on ships:

Past and present owners:

Jan Mertens, 24 September 2005

US shipping lines house flags - 'I' continued