The current New Hampshire state flag is not a good flag. This is my subjective opinion, but it is also backed up by guidelines and scores from across society. For example, the North American Vexalogical Society (NAVA) rated New Hampshire amongst the ten worst flags in North America (source).
In order to assess the quality of flags, the NAVA check the flag’s design against five principles listed in Good Flag Bad Flag. In summary, they are:
- Keep it simple – a child should be able to draw it;
- The symbolism should be meaningful;
- It should only use a few colors;
- It should not contain lettering or seals; and
- It should be distinctive or related.
The last one deserves some clarification. The flag should only look like another flag, if it’s related in some way. The Liberian flag looks like the USA flag, because Liberia was founded by American slaves, for example.
Similarly, the Flag Institute, the British flag charity, has a set of rules, that can be downloaded for free and which are very similar.
Keeping these rules in mind, it should be obvious why the New Hampshire state flag is widely disliked. It has images that are complex (rule 1), and it is very indistinct from other state flags such as Kentucky and Idaho (rule 5). It is also not particularly meaningful (rule 2). New Hampshire’s coast is tiny, so the ship is incongruous at best. Finally, when flying, the ship is almost impossible to discern.
2014 2009, Brian Cham of Auckland, New Zealand proposed a new flag. You can see his design here: BrianCham1994.com. But while I like it, and while it satisfies rules 2 to 5, I think it could be more simple, while at the same time including more symbolism. I also think the Old Man of the Mountain, who no longer exists, is an entirely odd symbol for the state to cling to.
New Hampshire is a tourist destination, and its beauty is famously its lakes, forests, and the White Mountains. Therefore, my design incorporates shapes to represent the mountains and lakes.
The proposed flag is a white mountain in the center of a blue background. This mountain does not reach the bottom left or right corners, so that it looks like a peak. New Hampshire is also known as the Granite State, so the bottom of the mountain is grey, to reflect that color. The blue background, like Brian’s flag, matches the blue of the USA national flag, but also represents the lakes.
What do you think of the flag? What changes could we make to make it more symbolic, or better fit within the rules? Or do you prefer Brian’s flag?
An SVG version of my flag is available – please contact me for a link.