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Dictionary of Vexillology: C (Cable Number - Civil Flag)

Last modified: 2006-09-30 by phil nelson
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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A code number identifying a precise shade of colour in the system developed by the Color Association of the United States, usually associated with a specific name, and used in the official specifications of US government and military flags.

A heraldic term for the mark of difference added to an escutcheon to indicate that the bearer is heir to the owner, or a direct descendent of the family to which the primary coat of arms belongs, or that the person is a member of a related branch of the same family – differencing.

Please note however, that the form these marks take may vary from country to country – for example – the cadency label is used on several British royal banners in deference to (although not in strict accordance with) English heraldic practice, whilst traditional Scottish heraldry is more likely to employ a bordure and other European traditions may change the colour of a charge. It is suggested therefore, that a suitable glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted for further details (see also ‘armorial bearings’, ‘coat of arms’ and ‘shield’).

[cadency marks]
The cadency marks of the 1st to the 6th son in English heraldry (Parker)

Every vessel at sea is allocated an international call sign consisting of at least four letters for identification purposes by any means of signalling available, including flags – see ‘call sign hoist’ below.

Please note that the international call sign is made up of two letters identifying the country of registration and additional flags identifying the particular ship. Most navies also prescribe tactical call signs according to their own naval signal codes and which is used intra-service for operational purposes. Warships also generally hoist their international call signs at the yardarm when entering or leaving harbour (see also ‘yardarm’).

A hoist of signal flags displaying the international call sign of a ship (see also 'call sign', ‘hoist 2)’, ‘making her number’ and ‘signal flag’).

1) An alternative term for a company colour in some regiments of British and Canadian foot guards (but see also ‘company colour’ and note below).
2) See ‘camp flag’.
3) A term, now largely obsolete, for a small military flag originally used to delineate the boundaries of a regiment&'s encampment and later used in some armies as a company guide flag, to mark turning points in manoeuvring troops.

Please note that as far as is known this term is used by the British Grenadier Guards, the Grenadier Guards of Canada and the Governor General’s Foot Guards (also Canada) in place of company colour.

In the British and some other army usage, a non-ceremonial flag used to indicate the presence of a unit of a Corps or Regiment in a camp or other location – a regimental or headquarters flag.

[camp flag]
Camp Flag of the British Army Air Corps (Graham Bartram)

The central stripe (or pale) in a 1:2 vertical triband/tricolour whose internal proportions are 1-2-1, and which is therefore square - as in the Canadian flag (see also ‘proportions’ and ‘pale’ in ‘Appendix VI’).

[Canadian flag]
National Flag of Canada (CS)

Please note however, it is suggested that the entry on pale and/or a suitable glossary or heraldic dictionary be consulted before using this term.

The flag of the Cantabrian independence movement showing a wheel-like emblem that is considered symbolic of the ancient Cantabrians of Northern Spain.

[Cantabrian Lebarum]
The Cantabrian Labarum (fotw)

Bearers of the ‘cantabrum’ - but see below.

It is proposed by some sources that this is the standard used by later Roman Emperors and believed to have been a type of vexillum (see also ‘vexillum’).

Please note - not to be confused with a cantabrian labarum (see 'cantabrian labarum').

An originally heraldic term for when the design on a shield or banner of arms forms a pun on the name or attributes of the entity or person represented (see also ‘armorial bearings’).

[Queens Mothers flag - canting]
Standard of her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, UK, the Royal Arms of Great Britain impaled with quartered Bows and Lions for her family name of Bowes-Lyon (fotw)

1) Commonly, all or part of the upper hoist – or first - quarter of a flag’s field that is otherwise undivided - the canton (see also ‘Appendix I’ and ‘quarter 1’).
2) A rectangular (or square) area of colour or design different from the field in the above position, which may occupy exactly one quarter of the flag or a larger or smaller area (see also ‘quarter 1)’ and ’Union’).
3) One of the four quarters of a flag, divided horizontally and vertically into (1) the upper hoist canton, (2) upper fly canton, (3) lower fly canton and (4) lower hoist canton - corresponding to quarters one to four of a shield divided quarterly (see also ‘Appendix I’, ‘quarterly’, ‘hoist’ and ‘fly’).
4) In heraldry as definition 2) except (although apparently of no fixed size) heraldic use frequently suggests that a canton should occupy one-third of the chief (see also ‘chief’).

A flag or pennant, sometimes in metal or other non-flexible material, designed specifically to be flown from a car – an automobile flag.

German car flag 1941-45
General officer, Germany 1941– 45 (fotw)

Please note that the practice of flying a car flag or pennant was previously (usually but not exclusively) limited to that carrying a head of state, government official or military officer, however, the practice has arisen whereby such flags are available as sports flags and may also be displayed by a funeral cortege. Formerly sometimes flown from the radiator cap, a car flag is now more usually seen on the right front fender, wing/mudguard (or often on both front fenders) but there is a suggestion that the two positions might also previously have indicated differences in the rank of the occupant. It is usually flown from a short metal staff, or from a clip-on, window mounted staff, or from the radio antenna (see also ‘funeral flags’).

An alternative medieval term, now obsolete, for the cart upon which the standard was placed (see also ‘altema’, ‘gajardus’ and ‘standard 6)’).

In obsolete UK and some other usage, a flag or one of a pair of flags, that mark a vessel involved in the exchange of prisoners (see also ‘flag of truce’).

An originally heraldic term that now covers a usually (but not invariably) oval plaque or frame containing heraldic insignia, and occasionally a date or motto (see also ‘motto’ and ‘ring’).

From left: Detail, Spain (CS); Andorra (fotw)

1) A narrow sleeve-like sack, usually of some decorative, waterproof, material used in order to protect a regimental, unit, service or national colour when outdoors and furled (see also ‘colour 2)’ and ‘furl’).
2) (v) The act of placing the furled colour into its case (see also ‘uncase’).

See ‘pall flag’.

See flag tossing’.

See ‘sendal’.

An ensign or flag flown by naval ships and over naval or military establishments on Sundays or days of national or service celebration (see also ‘Sunday ensign’ and ‘garrison flag’).

Please note that the above term does not refer to flags used on parade, but to those flags and ensigns that are identical to their everyday equivalents except for size and/or care of manufacture (see also ‘parade flag’).

A wheel-like emblem that represents the Buddhist Dharma Chakra (or wheel of law) and which appears in a variety of different designs on the national flag of India, the military flags of Thailand and several other flags both past and present.

From left: India (fotw); Thailand (fotw)

See ‘crown of rue’.

In US army usage a flag, bearing a device corresponding to a particular religion, displayed in a military chapel.

[US Chapel Flag]
Christian Faith Chapel Flag, US (fotw)

In US army usage a flag, bearing a device corresponding to a particular religion, flown in the field to designate the location of a chaplain&'s quarters or office, or the site at which religious services are being held.

[Jewish chaplain flag]
Jewish Faith Chaplain’s Flag, US (fotw)

See ‘garland’.

1) Generally, any emblem, object or design placed upon the field of a flag or shield (see also ‘Appendix IV’).
2) A symbol placed upon the field of a flag, which is neither an emblem as specifically defined herein, nor a badge (see also ‘emblem’, ‘emblem, national’, ‘emblem military’ and ‘badge’).
3) (v) The act of placing such a charge on a flag.

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

(adj) The act of having placed a charge on a flag (especially "charged with") – to have defaced with a charge (see also ‘charge’ and ‘deface’).

1) A flag bearing more than four but an otherwise varied number of squares in alternating colours (see also ‘quarterly’).
2) A heraldic term for a shield or banner of arms bearing (not less than twenty) squares of a metal and colour alternately. Any number between ten and twenty squares is generally specified, and a shield or banner of arms carrying only nine is called equipolle by French heralds.

Please note that in heraldry the exact number of squares (if more than twenty) is usually left undefined, but in vexillology the number of these squares is often precisely regulated.

[Checky - North Brabant NL]
Flag of North Brabant, Netherlands (fotw)

1) A heraldic term for a charge with arms generally in the shape of an inverted letter ‘V’, and heraldic use frequently suggests that a chevron should have a width equal to one-fifth the field of a banner of arms or shield.
2) Any ‘V’ shaped charge on a flag irrespective of the width of the arms. The standard orientation of a chevron on flags is the same as in heraldry, however, when the apex is towards the top edge of the flag it may be called a simple chevron; with the apex towards the bottom edge of the flag, an inverted chevron; with the apex towards the fly a horizontal chevron and with the apex towards the hoist of the flag it may be called a reversed chevron.

Please note that the Editors have adopted a heraldic model in defining a chevron on flags, however, please note also that there are conflicting definitions with regard to the standard vexillological orientation of a chevron and that usage of this term has not yet settled upon a consistent approach.

From left: Flag of Campina Grande; Brazil Flag of Boelenslaan; Netherlands Flag of Otovice; Czech Republic (fotw)

A heraldic term used when two or more chevrons are displayed together on a shield or banner of arms, and heraldic use frequently suggests that a chevronel should be one-half the width of a chevron (see ‘chevron’ above).

Please note that in heraldry the standard orientation of a chevronel is the same as that of a chevron and that variations of this standard may be described using the terminology given in 2)’ above.

A heraldic term for the top horizontal section of a shield or banner of arms, however, heraldic use frequently suggests that a chief should be one-third of the total depth of that shield or flag (see also ‘banner of arms’, ‘base’, ‘main’ and ‘shield 2)’).

One of a number of designs symbolizing Christianity, especially the white flag with a blue canton containing a red Latin cross designed in 1897 by Charles Overton, and used by various Protestant groups (see also ‘religious flag’).

[Christian flag]
Charles Overton’s Flag (fotw)
Please note that usage of the Christian flag was originally (largely) confined to the United States, but evidence of growing use elsewhere has been reported.

A medieval term, now obsolete, for the bearer of a standard, flag or banner upon which the figure of Christ crucified was depicted.

See ‘banner 3)’.

See ‘Christian flag’ and ‘religious flag’.

In the US, UK and other naval usage, the pennant hoisted aboard a warship or naval shore establishment during religious services (see also ‘bethel flag’).

[Church pennant - UK]
Church Pennant British Royal Navy (CS)

Please note however, that this may also be called a worship pennant, particularly when in connection with a non-Christian service.

See ‘monogram’.

See ‘award flag’.

1) See ‘banner 3)’.
2) A term used when the flag of a municipality or urban area is a banner of arms – see ’civic flag’ (also ’banner 1)’).

1) On flags, a crown composed of battlemented walls showing masonry and usually three towers, usually (but not exclusively) representative of a municipality or urban area (see also ‘crown’, ‘mural crown’ and ‘naval crown’).
2) In heraldry, a closed garland or chaplet composed of oak leaves and acorns (see also ‘crown triumphal’ and ‘garland’).

[civic crown]
A Heraldic Civic Crown (Parker)

The flag of a municipality or urban area – a municipal flag.

That flag flown at civilian airports, landing fields and by civil air authorities.

Please note that in British use (and in that of some Commonwealth countries) such a flag is called a civil air ensign (see also ‘ensign 2’).

[Civil air ensign - UK]
Civil Air Ensign, UK (fotw)

See under ‘ensign’.

The version of a national or provincial flag that is for use by private citizens on land (see also ‘national flag’, ‘state flag’, ‘civil ensign’ under ‘ensign’ and ‘sub-national flag’).

[Civil flags]
From left: Civil Flag of Guatemala (fotw); National Flag of Guatemala (fotw)