The study of Vexillology is the scientific analysis of flags, including the history, symbolism, usage, colors, design, and more.
Vexillology is a tough word to say, but what exactly does it mean?
Vexillology is the scientific analysis of all aspects of a flag, including its history, colors, and symbolism. A vexillologist (a person who studies flags) looks at flags from all over the world and from various time periods and examines their usage by different cultures.
The term vexillology was born in 1957 by a scholar from the United States, Whitney Smith, and the word first appeared in print in 1959. Smith went on the co-found “The Flag Bulletin,” the world’s first ever journal dedicated to flags in 1961. One year later he established the official Flag Research Center in Winchester, Massachusetts.
When vexillology first broke out as a new study, it was considered a sub-discipline of heraldry, which is the art of crafting, granting, and blazoning arms. Today, vexillology is still occasionally seen as related to heraldry.
Vexillography is the practice of designing flags. Betsy Ross is often credited with designing the first American flag with 13 stripes and 13 stars arranged in a circle. Thick stripes and crosses are two very common designs among world flags. You can learn more about a few obscure country flags and the stories behind their designs.
The popular comedy The Big Bang Theory even did a segment about vexillology called “Fun with Flags.” Watch the clip below and see how much fun you can have with flags!
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