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Mexico - Flag without arms

Last modified: 2001-08-02 by juan manuel gabino villascán
Keywords: mexico | arms |
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[Old mexican civil ensign]
by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 06 April 2001

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Flag without Arms

The question is often asked if the Mexican flag ever flies without the coat of arms on it. The short answer is no, not as a flag. It would, after all, not be the Mexican flag but the Italian one. However, the question is not as absurd as it might seem. Until 1968, the Mexican merchant flag was identical in design to the national flag of Italy, both were vertical tricolors of green white and red. (I won’t swear that the “official” proportions were the same, but in practice I doubt you would have been able to prove conclusively the nationality of an Italian ship versus a Mexican one by the proportions. There was another way, however.)

Until the end of WW II, the Italian flag always had the Savoy coat of arms in the center (without the crown: Merchant, with the crown: naval ensign) so there was no confusion at sea. After the war, the plain tricolor was adopted as the national flag, but in order to avoid confusion with the Mexican merchant flag, the new Italian coat of arms was placed in the center of the Italian merchant flag (again with no crown.)

In preparation for the 1968 summer Olympic games, Mexico rewrote its flag legislation not only by designing a new eagle / snake / cactus coat of arms but also by dropping officially the “plain” tricolor and adopted the flag with the arms as the one for all purposes.

I don’t know if the plain Mexican tricolor was used much after WWII, but I have an old woollen flag, about 2 feet by 3.5 feet, that is the plain green white red and it has "Mexico" written in script on the heading. I would estimate its vintage at 1900 to 1930’s.

According to [ped70], Mexico adopted the green-white-red tricolor in 1823, and Italy adopted these colors in 1848 (although the colours predate this year in the flag of Savoy in 1796 or 1797).

Nick Artimovich, 16 Mar 1998

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