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Hammerfest, Finmark

Last modified: 2023-07-03 by phil nelson
Keywords: hammerfest | polar bear | soroysund | boats (3) |
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Commune flag by Jan Oskar Engene, 29 April 2002
Granted on 16 December 1938.



See also:

About the Flag

The arms of Hammerfest, a silver polar bear on a red field, were prepared for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the town's foundation in 1939. The arms, which were recently redrawn by heraldic artist Arvid Sveen, were adopted by Royal resolution of 16 December 1938. However, the image I have made is made with an older version as the model. According to [cjo87] the idea of the arms is to show the importance of hunting Arctic resources had to the town. The flag corresponds to the arms, that is, a white polar bear on red.
Jan Oskar Engene, 29 April 2002


Official blazon in Norwegian: "En hvit isbjørn i rødt."

Blazoned in English: "Gules a polar bear passant argent."
English blazon by Joe McMillan, 30 July 2002


Normally passant means the right forefoot is off the ground; statant would mean all four feet on the ground with the two front feet together. This bear (like most polar bears) clearly doesn't care about abiding by such rules.
Joe McMillan, 30 July 2002

Former Municipalities in Hammerfest


by Jan Oskar Engene, 27 April 2002
Granted on 8 June 1979.

"In blue three white boats, two over one." This is the brief, and it might be added after looking at the drawing, not wery precise blazon of the flag of Sørøysund municipality in Finnmark County as found in the Royal resolution dated 8 June 1979. Given the long coast and the maritime traditions of Norway, the boat is a popular heraldic charge in the country's civic heraldry. The problem is, naturally, that there are so many different types of boats and that whereas the official blazons tend to speak only of "boats" the municipality and the heraldic artist usually have a specific type of boat in mind. This is also the problem with the arms and flag of Sørøysund which only speaks of boats. Some more details should perhaps have been provided in the blazon for the boats to be accurately drawn. In the case of Sørøysund, according to [cjo87], the charge was repeated three times to reflect the fact that the municipality is made up of three islands.

As of 1 January 1992 Sørøysund was merged into Hammerfest municipality. This is why Sørøysund is not listed in [sga95]. It is found in [cjo87].
Jan Oskar Engene, 27-28 April 2002


Shouldn't the boat at the bottom be as big as the two boats at the top?
Mark Sensen, 27 April 2002


Well, a rule of heraldry is that the charges should fill out the field. That is why I made the bottom boat bigger, so as to fill some of that blue "empty" space in the lower part of the flag. The same is done to many other Norwegian flags and arms.
Jan Oskar Engene, 28 April 2002


While this rule exists, I've noticed in Norway it gets a higher priority than in the rest of the world. In an example of this, with three equal charges 2:1 :

In Norway first "Filling the field." is applied, saying the bottom charge should be wider, and then the "Similar charges, similar shapes." saying the upper two charges should be equal in shape.

Elsewhere one would first apply "Similar charges, similar shapes.", which would give the bottom charge the same ratio as the upper charges, and then "Filling the field", which would mostly determine the placement and size of the charges. Indeed, this order is the reason why "round" charges are placed 2:1, as this is how three such similar shapes would fill the field best.

It's this sort of distinction that should warn us not to speak too lightly of "Heraldry" asif its rules are universal throughout the world. The fact that in some ways they aren't is what gives each country its own recognizable heraldic style.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 1 May 2002


Official blazon in Norwegian: "I blått tre sølv båter, 2-1."

Blazoned in English: "Azure three boats argent two and one."
English blazon by Joe McMillan, 30 July 2002

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