Washington Flag History
Adopted: March 5, 1923 (standardized in 1967)
Washington Flag Design: The state seal sized at 1/3 the length of the flag centered on a field of dark green.
Washington did not actually adopt an official design for its Washington flag until 1923, more than 30 years after the state was admitted to the union. At the turn of the century, many cities and towns flew a military flag bearing a gold profile of George Washington on blue bunting. Another design, similar to the one used today, featured a gold state seal centered on a purple or green background. A ceremonial banner of this type is displayed in the State Reception Room of the Legislative Building in Olympia.
When the Legislature approved a law setting forth the design of the official Washington state flag, it stipulated that the flag "shall be of dark green silk or bunting, bearing in its center a reproduction of the seal of the state of Washington..." The original law allowed the option of using green fringe on the flag; two years later, the Legislature changed the fringe color to gold.
The emblem on the Washington flag is the state seal, which was first designed in 1889 by Olympia jeweler Charles Talcott. Talcott used an ink bottle and a silver dollar to draw the rings of the seal, and then pasted a postage stamp in the center for the picture of George Washington. His brother L. Grant Talcott lettered the words "The Seal of the State of Washington 1889" and another brother, G. N. Talcott, cut the printing dye. In the seal used on the state flag, the picture of George Washington has a blue background and is encircled by a gold ring with black lettering.
According to law (RCW 1.20.010), "The official flag of the state of Washington shall be of dark green silk or bunting and shall bear in its center a reproduction of the seal of the state of Washington embroidered, printed, painted or stamped thereon. The edges of the flag may, or may not, be fringed. If a fringe is used the same shall be of gold or yellow color of the same shade as the seal. The dimensions of the flag may vary.
The Secretary of State is authorized to provide the state flag to units of the armed forces, without charge, as in his discretion he deems entitled thereto. The secretary of state is further authorized to sell the state flag to any citizen at a price to be determined by the secretary of state."
Additionally, the Secretary of State is customarily entrusted with the role of educating the public as to the history and the protocol and appropriate display of the Washington State flag individually and as it is flown with other flags.
STATE SEAL - WASHINGTON STATE FLAG
CHAPTER 65. [House Bill No. 860.]
AN ACT relating to the state seal and state flag; amending section 1, chapter 174, Laws of 1923 as amended by section 1, chapter 85, Laws of 1925 extraordinary session and RCW 1.20.010; adding a new section to Title 1 RCW; and declaring an emergency.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Washington:
Section 1. There is added to Title 1 RCW a new section to read as follows:
The seal of the state of Washington shall be, a seal encircled with the words: "The Seal of the State of Washington," with the vignette of General George Washington as the central figure, and beneath the vignette the figures "1889" and shall be composed as appears in the illustration below:
Sec. 2. Section 1, chapter 174, Laws of 1923 as amended by section 1, chapter 85, Laws of 1925 extraordinary session, and RCW 1.20.010 are each amended to read as follows:
The official flag of the state of Washington shall be of dark green silk or bunting and shall bear in its center a reproduction of the seal of the state of Washington embroidered, printed, painted or stamped thereon. The edges of the flag may, or may not, be fringed. If a fringe is used the same shall be of gold or yellow color of the same shade as the seal. The dimensions of the flag may vary.
The secretary of state is authorized to provide the state flag to units of the armed forces, without charge therefor, as in his discretion he deems entitled thereto. The secretary of state is further authorized to sell the state flag to any citizen at a price to be determined by the secretary of state.
Sec. 3. This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety, the support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and shall take effect imnmediately.
Passed the House April 7, 1967.
Passed the Senate April 6, 1967.
Approved by the Governor April 19, 1967.
NOT ALL WASHINGTON STATE FLAGS ARE THE SAME!
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- State flags constructed to precise specifications
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