Last modified: 2005-02-12 by santiago dotor
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There were several Orders issued by the Ministry of the Army in 1920, 1931, 1932 and 1940 regarding the dimensions (and indirectly the proportions) of the national flags (with arms) to be flown on coastal fortresses and other military and official buildings:
Luis Miguel Arias, translated by Santiago Dotor, 17 April 2002
The broad majority of actual flag and arms samples I have seen (either personally or in photographs) dating from the 18th and 19th centuries do keep to certain official standards. The proportion of the red-yellow-red stripes was established by Royal Order in 1785 and was never modified, except for the absurd 1940 Order the equal-width stripes in the 1931-1939 Republican flag being a completely different issue.
The ratio of the 1785 war ensign (later state flag and ensign) was not fixed in the 1785 Order. In actual practice it seems to have evolved from long flags ca. 1:3 to the more recent 2:3. I seem to recall seeing a picture (possibly in Wilson 1986) of a Spanish ensign captured by the British at Trafalgar which, already at that time (1805), had a 2:3 ratio.
I would think that by the late 19th century most if not all Spanish ensigns were 2:3.
As for the arms, at that time there rarely was an official design as there is nowadays. Still the majority of actual arms, both on flags and elsewhere, shared a quite uniform design.
Santiago Dotor, 18 April 2002