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Dictionary of Vexillology: S (Seal - Selvedge)

Last modified: 2024-06-08 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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An emblem or design representing a government, a branch within that government or a person that, when embossed upon or affixed to a document, proves its authenticity or which validates a legal instrument. The reproduction of an official seal often appears on US sub-national flags – see ‘seal of the state of’ (also ‘anti-heraldry’, ‘military crest’, ‘quadrant 1)’, ‘seal flag’, ‘seal on a bedsheet’, ‘sub-national flag’ and ‘state flag 2)’).

[Seal of US State of Florida] [Seal of Boulder] [Seal of Subotica, Serbia]
State Seal of Florida (fotw); Flag of Boulder, US (fotw); Seal of Subotica, Serbia (fotw)

Please note, that whilst a seal originally showed the user’s badge or parts of their armorial bearings (and was used to create an impression on wax or lead), when seen on flags today it is generally not (particularly in US usage) a coat of arms as defined herein (see also ‘anti-heraldry’).

A term for the flag whose main charge consists of a seal as defined herein, set largely (but not exclusively) on a plain field and most often seen in the flags of US states and government agencies (see also ‘anti-heraldry’, ‘armorial flag’, ‘charge 2)’, ‘plain 2)’ and ‘seal’).

[Idaho, US] [Seal of US Dept of Energy] [Seal of US Census Bureau]
Flag of Idaho, US (fotw); Flag of the Dept of Energy, US (fotw); Flag of the Census Bureau, US (fotw)

a) This term has been introduced by the Editors as being more appropriate than those (sometimes) currently in use – see ‘logo on a bedsheet’ and ‘seal on a bedsheet’.
b) In US usage flags of his type are often derived from previously established military colours.

In largely (but not exclusively) US usage, the seal relating to a specific state of the union  – see ‘flag of the state of’ and seal’ (also ‘seal flag’).

[Flag of US state of New Hampshire] [Seal of US state of Florida] [Flag of US state of Kansas]
Flags of the States of New Hampshire and Kansas, and Seal of state of Florida, US (fotw)

See ‘magen david’ and its following note (also ‘pentagram’).

[Morocco] [Morocco]
National flag and Emblem of Morocco (fotw)

1) A term that (together with ‘logo on a bedsheet’) is intended to be derogatory, to apply particularly to sub-national flags in the US and to describe any such flag that bears a seal (as opposed to another form of charge) upon a plain field – but see ‘seal flag’ (also ‘seal’).
2) As above, but the term may (albeit inaccurately) include flags bearing a coat of arms rather than a seal – see ‘armorial flag’.

[New Hampshire, US] [Minnesota, US] [New York, US]
Flag of New Hampshire, US (fotw); Flag of Minnesota, US (fotw); Flag of New York, US (fotw) 

In heraldry the term used to describe a charge in the form of a mythological creature that is part lion and part fish – see ‘heraldic beasts’.

[heraldic beast] [sea-lion] [sea-lion]
Flag of Varaždinske Toplice, Croatia (fotw); Arms of Portsmouth, UK (fotw); Presidential Flag of the Philippines (fotw)

Terms covering that quarter of a flag which occupies the upper fly - the second quarter, upper fly or upper fly canton – see ‘canton 3)’ (also ‘hoist 1)’).

[second canton]

An old term, now rarely used outside the British and Canadian foot guards, for the regimental colour (see also ‘colour 2’ and ‘colours 2)’).

[second colour]
Second/Regimental Colour of the Governor General’s Foot Guards, Canada (Official Website)

1) In vexillology a term that is used to describe the section (or sections) of a charge or field which meet at, or emanate from, a central point.
2) See ‘gyronny’.

[sectors example] [sectors example] [sectors example]
Roundel of Czechia (fotw); Naval Jack and Aircraft Roundel of The Netherlands (fotw)

See ‘registration flags’.

[sector flag example]
Sector/Registration flag, One Department of Rochefort, France (fotw)

1) See ‘faceted’.
2) In vexillology a term that may be used in place of the heraldic “gyronny” when a charge or field is divided into sections in (usually) alternating or different shades/colours meeting at a central point – but see ‘gyronny’.

[sectored example]  [sectored example] [sectored example] 
Flag of Gornji Grad, Slovenia (fotw); Symbol of the Ratana faith, New Zealand (fotw); Flag of Schellerten, Germany (fotw)

The heraldic term used when describing the centre of a rose, other flower or flower-like charge, particularly when this is of a different tincture - but see ‘barbed’ (also ‘tincture’).

[seeded example] [seeded example] [seeded example]
Flag of Hampshire, UK (fotw); Flag of Lancashire, UK (fotw); Flag of Schwändi, Switzerland (fotw)

Please note that botany draws a distinction between the stamen and seedpods of a rose or other flower, whereas English heraldry does not.

See ‘faceted’ and ‘gyronny’ (also ‘sector(s) 1)’).

[segmented example] [segmented example]
Flag of Mollis, Switzerland (fotw); Flag of Balneário Camboriú, Brazil (fotw)

The heraldic term used in place of rampant when applied to a griffon whose wings are generally expanded – see ‘rampant’.

[segreant example] Boksburg, South Africa
Military Crest of Michigan, US (fotw); Flag of Boksburg, South Africa 1981–1994 (fotw)

An alternative heraldic term to couchant - see ‘couchant’.

[sejant example] [sejant example]
Arms and Flag of Stjørdal, Norway (fotw)

The outer edges of a length of cloth so woven that the threads do not unravel, and used to minimize the area of a flag which might otherwise be lost through hemming – most particularly in those flags formerly made from breadths of fabric (see also ‘breadth 2)’.

[selvedge example]
(Željko Heimer)

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