A Scarce British Empire Union of South Africa Flag Mounted on a Pole


Origin: British
Period: Early/Mid Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1927-35
Pole Length: 50.5 inches
Height: 17 inches
Width: 33 inches

The printed soft cotton South Africa flag having orange, white and blue horizontal stripes with three smaller flags center, the whole showing a lovely consistent gentle fade across the fabric, mounted on a long smooth wooden pole surmounted by a painted silver finial, survives from the second quarter of the twentieth century.

There is some light fraying to the edges of the fabric and some light discoloration to the colours, with one end of the flag grubby, but generally the flag and the pole are in super condition. The material could be hand washed if so desired but it does prove charming in this original condition.

During the time of the British Empire the dominions, many of the colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories carried their own flags, mostly under the blue ensign although some territories and colonies did also use red ensigns for their flags. This design for South Africa was based on the so-called Van Riebeeck flag or Prinsevlag ("Prince's Flag" in Afrikaans) that was originally the Dutch flag; it consisted of orange, white, and blue horizontal stripes. The South African addition to the design was three smaller flags centred in the white stripe. The smaller flags were the Union Flag (mirrored) towards the hoist, the flag of the Orange Free State (mirrored) hanging vertically in the middle and the Transvaal Vierkleur towards the fly. The flag changed to that of the current design in 1994.

A scarce textile discovery from this period.