Flag; QS2007.75


Sydney Quarantine Station Moveable Heritage Collection



About this object

This twentieth century signalling flag is one of 19 square flags within a set of 26 flags used for the International Code of the early 1900s. Each flag represents a letter of the alphabet. This particular flag symbolizes the letter ‘B’. It is also used as a “powder” flag by vessels having explosives on board.
There were many revisions to the International code after its introduction in 1653. This particular flag is significant because it is part of a complete set and an example of the revised International Code of 1901 when the missing vowels and the letters X, Y and Z were added.
This flag has a high interpretive value. It aids in telling the story of the quarantine hospital ships, such as the Harmony and the Faraway. Signalling flags were crucial for vessels to communicate their health level aboard the ship. They were an important part of quarantine protocol and would have been used frequently not only by the quarantine hospital ship but also by any vessel entering quarantine. This flag would have been vital to both the vessel and the functionality of the quarantine station during epidemics.

This flag is also very rare. It is abnormally small for an international signalling flag. This indicates that it was especially made this size for the Quarantine Station and was only used on the quarantine hospital ship, making it part of a set that is one of a kind.

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