There is no set standard design for the 1901 Maine state flag. Each flag maker can have their interpretation of the flag as the legislative document simply states “buff charged with the emblem of the State, a pine tree proper in the center and the polar star (a mullet of five points, in blue in the upper corner.” As long as this criteria is met, the flag should be considered a Maine state flag. Some flags might have stylized pine trees or various shades of “buff” (beige).
The emphasis of a pine tree in 1901 Maine flag bears a resemblance to the flag of New England. The latter was utilized to represent the New England colonies during the Revolutionary War. The almost entirely red flag features a pine tree located in the hoist. The flag was depicted in Jonathon Trumbell’s painting The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill.
In The North American Vexillological Association has set five rules for good flag design. The 1901 Maine state flag follows each of these rules:
- Keep it simple. The original Maine state flag is incredibly simple with only two objects, a pine tree and star, placed upon a single-colored background. The simplicity allows the flag to created quickly and keeps it distinct from all other flags.
- Use meaningful symbolism. The original Maine state flag utilizes two symbols used throughout the state. The star represents our state motto (Dirigo, Latin for “I lead”) and the pine tree represents the state’s woodland geography and history as a ship-building region.
- Use 2-3 basic colors. Only three ordinary colors are utilized in the design of the original flag, unlike the dozens used to design the state seal. This allows the flag to continue in its goal to be simple, yet meaningful.
- No lettering or seals. This rule is disregarded by many US state and city flags, including our own. A seal is meant to be seen up close on a still piece of paper, not flapping in the wind hundreds of feet away. From a distance, the current Maine state flag is indistinguishable from other state flags, such as Michigan or New York. The 1901 Maine state flag, however, does not contain any lettering or seals and would thus be distinguishable from the myriad of other US state flags.
- Be distinctive or be related. Maine is unique. We are not Minnesota, or Montana, or Nebraska. We have a unique history, people, and culture. As such, our state deserves a unique flag and the original 1901 flag would stand out from other US state flags.
In 1901, Maine’s first official flag was adopted during the state’s 70th legislative session under Chapter 233, which stated:
“Chapter 233, An Act to establish a State Flag. The State Flag is hereby declared to be buff charged with the emblem of the State, a pine tree proper in the center and the polar star (a mullet of five points), in blue in the upper corner. The star to be equidistant from the hoist and upper border of the flag, the distance from the two borders to the center of the star equal to about one quarter the hoist. This distance and the size of the star being proportionate to the size of the flag.”
A new law was later enacted in 1909 which revised the original flag and set forth instructions on the design of future Maine state flags:
“§206. State flag. The flag to be known as the official flag of the State shall be of blue, of the same color as the blue field in the flag of the United States, and of the following dimensions and designs; to wit, the length or height of the staff to be 9 feet, including brass spearhead and ferrule; the fly of said flag to be 5 feet 6 inches, and to be 4 feet 4 inches on the staff; in the center of the flag there shall be embroidered in silk on both sides of the flag the coat of arms of the State, in proportionate size; the edges to be trimmed with knotted fringe of yellow silk, 2 1/2 inches wide; a cord, with tassels, to be attached to the staff at the spearhead, to be 8 feet 6 inches long and composed of white and blue silk strands. A flag made in accordance with the description given in this section shall be kept in the office of the Adjutant General as a model.”
In 1991 and 1990, vexillologist David Martucci of Washington, Maine, attempted to convince the state to re-instate the 1901 Maine state flag. This efforts met little success as there was no pressing desire or need to change the flag.
Currently, there is a small, but growing, grassroots movement to fly the 1901 Maine state flag. Spurred on by the success of the Maine Flag Company in Portland, Maine and growing news coverage starting in 2017, the original Maine flag is slowly growing in popularity. The Maine Flag Company has created an Original Maine brand name which they hope to market and promote the 1901 Maine flag.
In March of 2018, the Somerset County Commissioners Office began flying the original Maine flag.
The purpose of this site is to promote the use of the 1901 Maine flag. Currently, only a few businesses are promoting its use. This site is unaffiliated with, and does not endorse, any of these businesses, but thanks them for all their efforts. This page exists for the promotion of a Maine grassroots movement to re-adopt the 1901 Maine state flag.