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Reverse of the National Flag (Spain)

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[Flag reverse (Spain)]
by Santiago Dotor |

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The Spanish edition of PCWeek (no. 458, December 9th 1999, p. 2) published a picture of the Spanish Senate building in front of which is displayed a very large Spanish flag. Actually it is one of the largest, permanently displayed Spanish flag I know of in Madrid, so it is quite a reference. The picture is peculiar because it has captured the reverse of the flag, showing very clearly the mirror image of the coat-of-arms. At the same time, it shows the name 'SENADO' in metal letters beneath the mast, so there is no doubt that the picture is shown the right way!

Santiago Dotor, 17 December 1999

This is the right way to display the Arms on the reverse of the flag. An image on a flag, be it heraldic arms or something else, should always face the same end of the flag on both sides of the flag, so if it faces the hoist on the front side, it should face the hoist on the reverse side of the flag too. On the front side of the flag is of course the State Arms as we are used to know it, with the heraldic right side (dexter) towards the hoist (in this case with the Arms of Castile nearest the upper hoist corner of the flag). On the reverse side the Arms should therefore, as is shown in the photo, be reversed, so what we see is a mirror image of the arms with the arms of Castile nearest the upper hoist.

Elias Granqvist, 27 June 2000

I agree the arms should be reversed but should the lettering read correct on both sides?

John Niggley, 27 June 2000

This might lead to a long theorical discussion. However, in practice, the Spanish flag is never manufactured as far as I know with the intention of following that rule. If the arms are embroidered onto a single layer of material, then the effect described by Elias Granqvist is achieved naturally (with reversed lettering of course). The same happens when the arms are printed with some kind of penetrating inks (I am no flagmaking expert). Otherwise, for instance when the arms are printed on only one side, or when the arms are printed/embroidered on a square piece of yellow material which is then sewn to the flag itself, the reverse simply does not show the arms.

Santiago Dotor, 28 June 2000

Television reports on 19th July 2000 showed the Spanish prime minister José María Aznar speaking at a press conference in Nouakchott (Mauritania). Behind him was a Spanish flag showing the reverse, in which the coat-of-arms was clearly visible. To my surprise, the motto (PLVS VLTRA) had been written so as to be legible, but each bit on its own so the motto (on the reversed arms) read "VLTRA PLVS". This may be only a manufacturer's design (the arms were not fully an official version, for instance the lion had a more heraldical attitude and a very purplish shade, and the chains of Navarre were more squarish), and the flag might have not even been produced by a Spanish manufacturer (something probable if the press conference was taking place outside the Spanish embassy).

Santiago Dotor, 20 July 2000

Detail of the Coat-of-Arms

[Detail of coat-of-arms on flag reverse (Spain)]
by Santiago Dotor

Picture of Flag Reverse

[National Flag (Spain), picture of reverse]
from PCWeek magazine

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