Jas. Hook

Sword on Flag Question

25 posts in this topic

On most of the 'Rackham' style pirate flags with the crossed swords is the quillion reversed in relation to the blades edge or curve? :blink: Is this an error in the art work or correct in design?

Jas. Hook ;)

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I've always imagined that it's highly stylized or simplified. 'Implied' rather than replicated exactly. A great many skulls of the period are not drawn realistically, but this might be attributed to the varying talent of one artist to another and the lack of a good reference in the moment. I wish we knew who created the image. Rackham himself or some other person that was persuaded by Rackham.

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Neither, I'm afraid. The "Rackham" flag appears in no pictoral or written source until well into the 20th century. If I had to make an educated speculation as to who created the image I would go for Philip Gosse or one of his associates.

One or two written descriptions of flags with a cutlass on them do exist from the period, but no contemporary depiction survives.

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Neither, I'm afraid. The "Rackham" flag appears in no pictoral or written source until well into the 20th century.

I didn't realize it was drawn so much later, though this does explain the strange interpretations of the hilt, or lack of interpretation. I've never liked the Rackham flag. It's overused by the hobby and I've always found it to be crudely drawn, but without purpose. If it were simply drawn to mimic a style of the period or the applied effort of a sailor with a talent for sewing and not art, I think I could like it better.

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Yup, I'm afraid it's one of the usual suspects, along with Blackbeard's, Every's, Bonnet's, Tew's, Condent's and one or two others that appear in all the books but have no original contemporary source before the late 1920s

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Too bad too, but this one is interesting...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2074868/Rare-red-Jolly-Roger-pirate-flag-captured-battle-north-Africa-230-years-ago-goes-display-time.html

I wish the article focused more on the flag itself, and not flags in general.

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Too bad too, but this one is interesting...

http://www.dailymail...splay-time.html

I wish the article focused more on the flag itself, and not flags in general.

I'm such a killjoy :(

The flag itself is sadly, probably not a real pirate flag either. the bolt rope is in the wrong place, it's far too small, and crucially, the logs of Lt. Curry's ship make no mention of an encounter with pirates. Neither, apparently, do those of his brother's ship.

(And since I'm being a killjoy, I might as well add that "jolly roger" doesn't come from "joli rouge" either).

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Dammit. You are in fact a killjoy.

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Okay...a really nice killjoy.

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Keep up the nice comments or I'll tell you Blackbeard's headless corpse didn't really swim three times round the ship... :P

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I am deflated and becalmed by Foxe. :unsure:

Jas. Hook ;)

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well WTF ?? !! every book i have shows those flags, but if they were never even mentioned until much later, iguess it is suspect.... hmm, certainly something to think about...what about bartholomew robert's flag ?? the one with abh amh on it ?? does that one at least have any period proof ??

deflating news indeed !! :)

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and while on the subject, i am aware that the jolly roger/ jolie rouge bit has been offered up as just a possibility, what have you uncovered showing it's origins ?? probably never mentioned until much later too is gonna be my new guess ....

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The ABH/AMH flag of Roberts' is described in Johnson's General History. Some of the other flags commonly depicted also have some basis in fact: Worley's flag is described by Johnson as a "Death's Head", for example, and "Moody's" flag is depicted in a French book from the mid-18th century, but not ascribed to any particular pirate until the 20th century.

There are various theories about the origin of the phrase "Jolly Roger", but none of the ones usually put forward seem to have any basis in contemporary documents. The Joli Rouge theory is fairly easily discounted by the fact that not one period source yet found uses the phrase. It's a kind of reverse engineering: Joli Rouge sounds a bit like Jolly Roger, therefore the French must have used that phrase for pirate flags...

Only one theory can be traced back to the period. According to a newspaper (Weekly Packet) report of 1719, Davis' company called their flag "Johnny Rogers". The same article claims that "Johnny Rogers" was the pirates' nickname for Woodes Rogers, governor of the Bahamas.

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the first Jolly rogers that were flown were actualy a solid RED flag!

Edited by PLUNDERING PYLOS PARKER

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According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word "Roger" in reference to sex predates the GAOP.

Being over-sexed Americans, we have to wonder whether there's some connection now between the vulgar terminology and the catch phrase for the iconic banner.

Edited by landlubbersanonymous

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According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word "Roger" in reference to sex predates the GAOP.

Being over-sexed Americans, we have to wonder whether there's some connection now between the vulgar terminology and the catch phrase for the iconic banner.

It seems to me you would have to reach pretty far to prove such a thing. The entire purpose of a pirate flag is instill fear so that those they were attacking would give up without a fight. Somewhere I read that the original pirate flags were solid red and I thought they meant no quarter would be given in a fight.

I must say that I am curious where Ed thinks the term Jolly Roger came from, if the jolie rouge thing is a bust.

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I must say that I am curious where Ed thinks the term Jolly Roger came from, if the jolie rouge thing is a bust.

Ah well, who's to say. The 'Johnny Rogers' idea in my last post is significant for two reasons: firstly, it's the only explanation of the term given in period - all of the other theories are 20th century; secondly, it's acually the earliest dateable reference to the name (Cordingly and others give 1702 as the earliest reference, in Quelch's trial, but the phrase is not used the trial account or any other Quelch document to my knowledge). Thus, the article is unlikely to have been deliberately explaining a term already in common usage.

It's certainly possible that pirates called their flag 'Johnny Rogers' as a joke against the man who had turfed them out of the Bahamas, a kind of reminder, to him and themselves, of his mortality. That's not to say I believe it though.

If that's not the real reason then there's no documented explanation and any attempt to find one is only speculation. Two suggestions can be discounted: jolie rouge because the facts just don't add up; 'Ali Rajah' the Tamil pirate, because it's just too ludicrous. Old Roger, meaning the Devil, would be the most likely if I could find any evidence that the Devil ever was called Old Roger in the GAoP. Old Roger, meaning a rogue or vagabond, likewise. To be honest, Roger meaning, well... to roger, is just as likely an explanation as any of the others.

But the fact remains that the only explanation which genuinely fits the available facts, and the only one with a period provenance, is that pirates named their flag after their nemesis, Woodes Rogers, Governor of the Bahamas.

And, for what it's worth, sometimes red meant 'no quarter', sometime black did, sometimes pirates indiscriminately switched between the two. Depends which source you read.

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Mission/Foxe - Thanks for input. We agree with the summarization disconnecting the Jolly Rogers from "Rogering". (Actually, we just interjected that bit out of curiosity to see what sort of responses we'd get.) However, the missus and I did discuss this and we both came to the same conclusion. That is, that even the threat of a "jolly rogering" by just a handful of pyracy.com users/moderators would be enough to instill terror in the average soul whether any flag was present or not.

Jas - (Apologies if the subject strayed from the topic at hand. You know threads just take on a life of their own sometimes.)

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...Jas - (Apologies if the subject strayed from the topic at hand. You know threads just take on a life of their own sometimes.)

LLA -

Quite allright. Though they might spin off topic at least they're stimulating. :D

Jas. Hook ;)

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Actually, a quick perusal of the OED forces a small rethink.

Roger, meaning a rogue - specifically a begger who pretends an Oxford or Cambridge education - was used in 1536. There is only one reference in the OED, so although the term predates the GAoP it may have fallen from usage. Also, the specific type of beggar implied doesn't accord with a pirate usage.

Old Roger, meaning the Devil, is first used in print in 1725, but was probably in usage before that time.

So, "Johnny Rogers" remains the only period explanation, but "Old Roger" the Devil is also possible.

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Fascinating that the W Rogers maybe had his hand also in this issue.... :lol:

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If the W.R. explanation is true, Woodes Rogers was the source of the name because his activities in removing the pirates from the Bahamas made them name it thus out of spite. It doesn't actually suggest he had a hand in it at all.

Although that also sounds like the same sort of nonsense made fact by a reporter when he hears any interesting stray opinion or statistic. (You'd be amazed at how many statistics become 'fact' because a reporter asks an activist for an estimate - which the activist summarily pulls out of his arse in order to sound knowledgeable. This 'fact' gets re-reported (sourced to the first reporter) and re-re-reported and so on until it becomes a 'fact' - one with little basis in truth.)

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Yea, it's backwards.

Silly story...I used to be so upset that the Capt Morgans logo had the same issue that I used to write in and complain all the time...years later I met Don Maintz and found out he was the designer of the logo. I consider him a friend these days and I have still yet to tell him.

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Silly story...I used to be so upset that the Capt Morgans logo had the same issue that I used to write in and complain all the time...years later I met Don Maintz and found out he was the designer of the logo. I consider him a friend these days and I have still yet to tell him.

lol that's ironic Matt.

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