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Dictionary of Vexillology: B (Backing - Bicolour)

Last modified: 2006-09-30 by phil nelson
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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The material or surface upon which an old flag is placed for the purposes of stabilization or preservation.

1) Generically, any emblem sometimes derived from the symbols contained in a full set of armorial bearings, but which does not contain a shield (see also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘emblem’, ‘charge’ and ‘shield’).
2) That emblem formerly placed in the fly half of a defaced Blue (or Red) Ensign in order to distinguish between British colonies, and used in place of a full set of armorial bearings, or the shield there from (see also ‘deface’, ‘disc’ and ‘government ensign’ under ‘ensign’).
3) The insignia of a military or naval unit often incorporated into the design of its colour or other organizational flag - but see ‘emblem, military and governmental’ (also ‘grommet 2)’).

Please note however, that with a large degree of heraldic justification, some sources propose the charge to be an integral part of a flag’s design and generally not used separately, whereas, in general a badge may. It is, therefore, suggested that the entry ‘badge in heraldry’ below and a suitable glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted.

Badge in Heraldry
A mark of distinction somewhat similar to a crest, though not placed on a wreath, nor worn upon the helmet. Badges are rather supplemental bearings quite independent of the charge of the original arms; they are borne on various flags, and formerly upon the breasts - or more frequently the sleeves - of servants and followers (see also ‘badge banner’, ‘pinsel’ and ‘standard 4)’).

Please note however, that In Scottish heraldry, the crest on the wreath may be used as a badge.

[badge illustration]
The Badge of HRH Prince Charles, UK (Official).

The term for a small square flag showing a person’s badge, probably against livery colours, and particularly (but not exclusively) for use at that person’s funeral – a practice now largely obsolete (see also Badge in Heraldry ‘bannerole’, ‘great banner’, ‘grumphion’ ‘livery banner’ and 'livery colours').

See ‘pennoncel’ (also ‘pennon 3)’).
A medieval term for the standard bearer of the Knights Templar (see also ‘bauceant’).

See ‘bauceant’.

See ‘stripe’ and ‘Appendix VI’.

A medieval term, now obsolete, for a standard bearer.

1) A term, now obsolete, for a small banner (see also ‘banner 1)’).
2) A streamer or ribbon – often with an inscription – normally used alone (as on a crosier) rather than as an accessory to a flag (see also ‘scarf’ and ‘streamer’).
3) A heraldic term for the streamer attached to a helmet or crest (see also ‘crest’ and ‘helm’).
4) A small flag flown as an accessory to a larger one.

Please note - not to be confused with ‘bannerole’.

1) A medieval term, now obsolete, for a small banner (see also ‘banneret’ and ‘bannerette’).
2) The Latin form of the Greek bandon which was a Byzantine military flag.

Please note, that banderia is a plural form of bandum, and that it has been suggested 1) may have been Latinized from a Celtic original.

A medieval term, now obsolete, for a banner.

1) A square or rectangular flag charged overall and whose field corresponds exactly with that of a shield in a set of armorial bearings – an armorial banner, banner of arms and heraldic banner (see also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘shield’ and ‘quarterly’).
2) See ‘hanging flag’ and its following note.
3) A usually (but not exclusively) elaborately designed flag-like cloth (possibly shaped and fringed on its bottom edge), or rectangular with plain field and inscription, that is suspended from a crossbar and/or between two vertical poles, and carried in procession or at a gathering or flown from a flying line – a religious banner, processional banner, trade union banner, protest banner, sporting banner, advertising banner or similar (see also 'flying line' and ‘gonfalon 1)’).
4) 4) A flag-like cloth, usually (but not exclusively) rectangular with a plain or elaborated field and inscription that is used in a commercial context and often displayed between two fixed points or from a flying line - an advertising banner (see also ‘flying line’).
5) In Australian usage, the ceremonial flag of a military organization not entitled to bear colours.
6) Generically (and poetically) any flag, especially one that is carried by a military force.

Please note, an example of a banner of arms is that of the Canadian province of New Brunswick, which should not be confused with a plain flag bearing those arms on a shield in its centre as on the flag of Alberta, or with the separately described heraldic standard (see also the illustration under ‘heraldic standard’ and ‘standard 4)’).

[banner illustration]
From left: Flag of Alberta, Canada (fotw); Banner of New Brunswick (fotw); Arms of New Brunswick

Please note also, that the most common heraldic terms used in describing a banner of arms are listed separately herein; however, it is suggested that suitable a glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted for further details.

See ‘banner 1)’.

In English naval usage, now obsolete, a flag (often the Royal Standard) that was used prior to the invention of a signal code to summon a council of war aboard the flagship (see also ‘flagship’).

[badge illustration]
English Royal Standard c1400 (Martin Grieve)

Please note that a banner of council first appeared in English sources during the first half of the 14th Century (dates of between 1337 and 1351 are suggested), however, please also note that use of a flag with this meaning was by no means limited to England’s navy, with instructions for a combined Mediterranean galley fleet of 1366 being just one example.

An 18th Century corruption, now obsolete, of the also obsolete term bannerole (see 'bannerole').

Please note, it is suggested that this term could also apply to a roll or scroll depicting banners.

1) A term sometimes used to describe a miniature banner; this is often (but not invariably) straight-sided and swallow-tailed, is designed to be displayed vertically and usually shows emblems of both national and local significance (see also ‘bannerette’, ‘emblem, general’ and ‘swallow-tailed’).
2) A medieval term, now obsolete, for a knight entitled to lead men into battle and whose lance pennon as square-ended, or for the group of knights so lead – a banneretus (see also ‘lance pennon 1)’ and ‘pennoncier’).

1) A small ceremonial banner decorating a set of bagpipes, a drum or a trumpet – a drum banner, pipe banner or a trumpet banner or tabard (see also ‘war banner’).
2) See ‘banner 3’.

A medieval term, now obsolete, for a banneret (see ‘banneret 2)’).

1) In largely Scottish usage a term, now obsolete, for one who bears a standard.
2) A late 19th early 20th Century term, now obsolete, for a Chinese soldier belonging to one of the eight “banners” (or divisions) of the Manchu army.

The term, now obsolete, for a small flag (usually square) that displayed a single quartering from a deceased person’s coat of arms for use at that person’s funeral – a banner roll (see also ‘badge banner’, ‘canton 3)’, ‘coat of arms’, ‘great banner’, ‘grumphion’ and ‘quartering’).

Please note - not be confused with banderole (see ‘banderole’).

See ‘Appendix VI’.

In UK usage, one of a number of varying flags (usually a banner of arms) which are flown from the ceremonial barges of London’s livery companies (see also ‘boat flag 3)’).

See ‘Appendix VI’.

See ‘Appendix VI’.

The heraldic term for the lower section of a shield or banner of arms, however, heraldic use frequently suggests that the base should be roughly one-third of the total depth of that shield or flag (see also ‘banner 1)’, ‘coat of arms’, ‘field’, ‘pointed’ and ‘shield’).

In US Air Force usage, a post flag (see also ‘post flag 1)’).

A term for a metal band sometimes placed on the staff of a military or national colour (usually below the lower edge of the flag), and showing the battalion and regiment to which it belonged – a ring (see also ‘battle honour’, ’colour 2)’ and ‘staff 2)’.

Please note that as far as can be determined, this was a custom formerly in the US Army (but still in use in the US Marine Corps) and also in some European forces. see supplemental note

In US usage, the organizational colour of a combatant Marine Corps unit or of the Corps as a whole when carried by dismounted troops (see also ‘branch of service flag’).

One or more large naval ensigns flown from the yardarms of a warship prior to commencing - and during - a surface engagement at sea (see also ‘naval ensign’ under ‘ensign’ and ‘yardarm’).

Please note that a warship raises additional large-sized ensigns prior to an engagement at sea for added identification and in case one or more are shot away.

1) A flag (either official or unofficial) that is specifically intended for use in battle – either to avoid confusion with the flag of an enemy or to convey a patriotic sentiment – and used in addition to or instead of military colours (see also ‘colour 2)’, ‘colours 2)’ and ‘Southern Cross 2)’).
2) In US naval usage, an unofficial flag flown from the yardarm when entering or leaving port, completing underway refuelling, parting company with other ships, or similar occasions – a house flag or unrep flag (see also ‘yardarm’).

Please note with regard to 2), that these flags have no standard pattern, official existence or meaning, but are designed and used by individual ship’s companies to express pride in their vessels, that their use has become traditional in the US Navy, that US and that other naval forces have official naval code signals to order and conduct operations such as underway replenishment (with these unofficial flags being hoisted in addition).

A mark of distinction, usually including the name of a battle or campaign, added to a regimental or other unit colour to show unit’s military service. This may take the form of an inscription within a ribbon scroll applied to the field of the colour, or a metal band (or bands) around the staff, or a metal clip attached to a streamer, or to the streamer itself – a battle streamer (see also ‘battalion ring’, ‘colour 2)’, ‘ferrule’, ‘staff 2)’ ‘streamer 1)’ and ‘streamer retaining ring’, and compare with ‘augmentation of honour’).

Please note however, that in many navies ships show their battle honours on a carved board or similar on ceremonial occasions, or when the ship is open to visitors rather than on a unit flag.

A term, now obsolete, for the Scottish heraldic standard as carried in battle, and there are indications that it was the smallest of three sizes (see also ‘standard 5)’, ‘pageant standard’ and ‘great standard’).

See ‘battle honour’.

A medieval term for the black and white banner of the Knights Templar – the balzaus (see also balcanifer’).

One interpretation of the Bauceant (CS)

A 13th Century term, now obsolete, for the plain red streamer flown from a ship’s masthead (in northern European waters) to signify that ‘no quarter would be given’, and the size according to record was 30 yards (24.45m) long by 2 yards (1.82m) wide (see also ‘flag of defiance’ and ‘streamer 2)’).

Please note that this flag first appears in records of the 1290’s, and is considered to have been a direct ancestor of the later flag of defiance. Note also “no quarter would be given” indicates that surrender would not be accepted and all prisoners killed.

See ‘charge’ and ‘charged’.

An early 18th Century alternative term, now obsolete, for bunting – see ‘bunting 1)’ (also ‘bewper’ and ‘breadth 2)’).
A loop at the end of the hoist line of a flag that fastens to a toggle at the end of the halyard when hoisting a flag – a running eye or eyesplice (see also ‘halyard’, ‘hoistline’, ‘running eye and toggle’).

Becket and toggle (AB)

See ‘logo on a bed sheet’.

An increasingly obsolete method of belaying, turning up or securing the halyard by means of movable vertical pins fitted into a frame or rack at the foot of the mast now largely replaced by the cleat (see also ‘cleat’ and ‘halyard’).

See ‘Appendix VI’ (also ‘abased’, ‘ascending diagonal’ and ‘descending diagonal’).

(v) A nautical term for securing two pieces of rope together as in attaching the hoistline of a flag to the halyard of a flag pole or mast (see ‘halyard’ and ‘hoistline’).

See ‘Appendix VI’.

See ‘Appendix VI’.

The flag of a seaman’s missionary organization occasionally flown in the 19th Century by some US and European merchant vessels to indicate that a church service was taking place (see also ‘church pennant’).

[Bethel flag]

A 17th Century term, now obsolete, for bunting (see also ‘bunting 1)’).

1) A flag of two stripes or bands of colour (whether divided vertically, horizontally or diagonally) and whether defaced or plain (see also ‘stripe’).
2) An undefaced flag with two equal (vertical or horizontal) stripes or bands of colour – a simple bicolour.

[bicolor flags]
From left: National flag of Haiti (fotw); National Flag of Portugal (fotw); National Flag of Bhutan (fotw)