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Delaware (U.S.)

Last modified: 2005-12-17 by rick wyatt
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[Flag of Delaware] image by Mario Fabretto, 24 February 1998

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One of the original 13 colonies, Delaware is represented by a star and a stripe on the 13 star U.S. flags.

Legal Description

Delaware Code
Section 306. State flag. The design of the official state flag shall be as follows: A background of colonial blue surrounding a diamond of buff in which diamond is placed the correct coat of arms of the State in the colors prescribed by law and in accordance with section 301 of this title, with the words, "December 7, 1787," to be inscribed underneath the diamond. The official state colors, colonial blue and buff, are designated by the Textile Color Card Association of the United States, Inc., New York, as "arno blue" Cable No. 10663, and "golden beige" Cable No. 10781 respectively; the color shades having been determined by Colorimetric Specifications of the National Bureau of Standards, United States Department of Commerce, in Test No. 2, 1/140565, dated November 18, 1954, which is on file with the Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware. The colors of the coat of arms and other elements of the state flag shall be the following: Husbandman, trousers of gray brown, shirt of red, hat and hilling hoe of brown; rifleman, suit of green, binding, bag and leggings of buff, hat of brown, powder flask and feather of gray; shield, frame of shaded yellow, top panel of orange, center panel of blue, lower panel of white, ox of red brown, grass and corn of green, wheat and branches underfoot of yellow, heraldic wreath to be blue and silver twisted); ship under full sail to have a dark hull and white sails; date, December 7, 1787, to be white; cord and tassels to be blue and gold.
Joe McMillan, 10 February 2000

Delaware State Coat of Arms

[Coat of Arms of Delaware] image by Joe McMillan, 13 March 2004

The official blazon of the Delaware coat of arms was enacted by the state legislature in 1847 (now codified in title 29 of the state code, section 301): "Party per fess, or and argent, the first charged with a garb (wheat sheaf) in bend dexter and an ear of maize (Indian Corn) in bend sinister, both proper; the second charged with an ox statant, ruminating, proper; fess, wavy azure, supporters on the dexter a husbandman with a hilling hoe, on the sinister a rifleman armed and accoutred at ease. Crest, on a wreath azure and argent, a ship under full sail, proper." The motto is "Liberty and independence."

Specific colors, including the clothing of the supporters, are prescribed in the section of the code relating to the state flag. These include stipulating that the chief of the shield is shown in orange--not "or" (yellow or gold), as the verbal blazon states and as state publications showed it as late as the 1950s.

The coat of arms was originally adopted on January 17, 1777, as the basic design of the state seal. The work of developing a seal had been entrusted in October 1776 to a joint committee of the two houses of the legislature, which (after a horrendous first concept offered by the committee in early November) eventually consulted with the Philadelphia heraldic artist Pierre Eugene du Simitiere on the matter. On January 17, 1777, the committee presented its final recommendation for a seal, which it described as "a Sheaf of Wheat, an ear of Indian Corn and an Ox in full Stature, in a Shield, with a River dividing the Wheat Sheaf and Ear of Indian Corn from the Ox, which is to be cut [i.e., on the seal die] on the nether part of the shield below the river; that the Supporters be an American soldier under arms on the right, and an Husbandman with a hoe in his hand on the left; and that a Ship be the Crest." The legislature accepted this design the same day.

A rendering of this blazon can be seen on Delaware currency issued in early 1777, photographs of which can be found here. Note that the positions of the supporters are reversed, possibly because of confusion between right/dexter and left/sinister in the statutory description. In addition, the tinctures were not specified; the state seal manufactured in 1793 contains Pietra sancta hatching indicating an azure field with an argent crest and argent ox.

At one level, the symbolism of the charges and supporters is obviously a reference to the role of agriculture in the state's economy. In addition, however, the wheat sheaf and ear of corn are drawn from the county crests used for Sussex and Kent Counties during the colonial period. Under the Penn proprietorship, of which modern Delaware was a part, each county was assigned a distinctive crest to be displayed with the Penn arms on the county seal. The ship crest of the Delaware arms represents New Castle County's shipbuilding industry, but is not the New Castle County crest (which was a castle).

As in other states, Delaware troops in the Civil War and earlier periods carried blue regimental colors with the state arms. Smith (1975b) records that the first civilian use of a flag with the arms was at the Jamestown (Virginia) tercentenary exposition in 1907. The battleship USS Delaware also flew a flag with the state coat of arms on the center. The present design of the flag was enacted on 24 July 1913.

It has probably been observed before but still interesting that the Delaware motto, "Liberty and independence," is a shortened form of Pennsylvania's, "Virtue, liberty and independence." This borrowing may be appropriate, since the three counties of Delaware were originally part of Pennsylvania, but the significance of Delaware's having no "virtue" is perhaps best left to personal speculation.

Other sources: The Institute of Heraldry, U.S. Army, Records Department, File 840-10, Heraldic Item, Flag: Delaware;
National Geographic January 1946 article on U.S. seals (King 1946); Eugene Zieber, Heraldry in America (1895)

Joe McMillan, 13 March 2004

State Seal

Section 301. Great Seal. The seal now used as the Great Seal of this State and bearing the arms of this State shall be the Great Seal of this State. It is emblazoned as follows: Party per fess, or and argent, the first charged with a garb (wheat sheaf) in bend dexter and an ear of maize (Indian Corn) in bend sinister, both proper; the second charged with an ox statant, ruminating, proper; fess, wavy azure, supporters on the dexter a husbandman with a hilling hoe, on the sinister a rifleman armed and accoutred at ease. Crest, on a wreath azure and argent, a ship under full sail, proper, with the words "Great Seal of the State of Delaware" and the words "Liberty and Independence" engraved thereon.
Joe McMillan, 10 February 2000

Governor's Flag

Section 307. Governor's flag. The official flag of the Governor of the State shall be identical to the official flag of this State except that it shall also bear a fringe of gold surrounding the edge of the flag and the pole upon which the Governor's flag is carried shall have mounted thereon a model of a blue hen's fighting cock.
Joe McMillan, 10 February 2000

Colors of the flag

The Colors of the flag of the State of Delaware seems to be fixed as follows:

                                        Munsell         PNT*
COLONIAL BUFF                           10YR 7/4        S24-1
COLONIAL BLUE                           2.5B 6/4        S238-6
        Trousers        Gray Brown      5Y 6/2          S42-7
        Shirt           Red             5R 4/12         S89-1
        Hat & Hoe       Brown           2.5YR 3/2       S317-1
        Face & Hands    Flesh           10R 9/2         S61-9
        Suit            Green           5GY 4/4         S293-1
        Binding, Bag
          & Leggings    Buff            10YR 7/4        S24-4
        Hat, Gun Stock  Brown           2.5YR 3/2       S317-1
        Flask, Feather,
          Gun Barrel    Gray            2.5B 3/2        S327-3
        Face & Hands    Flesh           10R 9/2         S61-9
        Frame           Shaded Yellow   5Y 8/10         S5-3
        Top Panel       Orange          7.5YR 7/12      S36-2
        Center Panel    Blue            10B 6/6         S235-6
        Lower Panel     White
        Ox              Red Brown       10R 4/6         S317-5
        Grass &
          Corn Husk     Green           5GY 5/6         S293-2
        Corn            Yellow          5Y 8.5/12       S5-4
        Wheat           Yellow          5Y 9/6          S5-5
          underfoot     Yellow          5Y 8/10         S5-3
        Emblem above    Blue and silver
                          (twisted)     2.5B 6/4        Blue S238-6
                                        10B 8/1         Silver S235-9
        Hull            Brown           2.5YR 3/2       S317-1
        Sails           White
        Water           Blue            10B 6/6         S235-6
        Bunting         White
        Liberty &
          Hem and
          Center Flag   Red             5R 4/12         S89-1

* PANTONE 1995 Process Color System

Source: letter (March 22, 1995) of the Assistant Secretary of the State of Delaware to Jos Poels, Grubbenvorst, the Netherlands.

Notes: Nothing is said about the color of the date DECEMBER 7, 1787 on the bottom of the flag. In the color copy which I received, the lettering however is white. Binding, bag and leggings of the rifleman are buff. This is also the same color of the diamond in the center of the flag on which the rifleman is placed. so you get here color-on-color (buff-on-buff). Delaware was December 7, 1787 the first state which ratified the Federal Constitution. Delaware became thus the first American state. Colonial blue and colonial buff were - according the designers of the flag - the colors of the uniform of general George Washington.

Jos Poels, 15 June 1995