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A Proclamation declaring what Ensign or Colours shall be borne at Sea in Merchant Ships or Vessels, belonging to any of His Majesty's Subjects of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Dominions thereunto belonging.

London, Printed by George Eyre and Andrew Strahan, Printers to the King's Most Excellent Majesty, 1801 Stock Code: 119991
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First edition, a rare survival indeed, a single copy as part of a collection of acts in the library of the University of New Brunswick, otherwise we have been unable to trace another copy of this broadside made for the public dissemination of the stipulations of London Gazette, No. 15324. "On 1 January 1801, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland came into existence and Ireland came to be represented in the Union and the ensigns. The emblem chosen to represent Ireland was the so-called 'cross of St. Patrick', a red saltire on a white field". (Wilson, Flags at Sea, p.29). Extraordinarily, the description of the Union flag given in this official document is inaccurate as to the intentions of the Council; "In his desire to adhere to the pedantic formulæ which came into being during the decadence of heraldic art, the draftsman was unfortunately obscure in a matter that called for the clearest precision. The draft showed fimbriation or border for the St. George's cross nearly as wide as the counterchanged saltires but it is clear that 'fimbriated as the saltire' was not intended to denote that the border was to be the same width as for the saltire, but simply that the border was to be of the same colour", the upshot of which is "that the Union flag is never made in strict accordance with the original design" (Perrin, British Flags, p.72). Attractive and genuinely uncommon.

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Singlesheet proclamation (495 x 375 mm).


Woodcut of the Royal arms at the head, diagram of the Red Ensign in the text.


Overall lightly browned, creases from old folds, quite sharp and with some associated splitting, a couple of small archival tape repairs, short slip cut from the head margin, no loss of text or image, remains very good.


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Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

Email: mail@peterharrington.co.uk

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