Welcome to TheseUnitedStates - Washington Flags
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About the Washington State Flag
The Washington state flag is set apart from the other state flags by two distinctions. It is the only state flag with a green field, and is the only state flag with a picture of a president.
The flag is composed of a field of dark green bunting with the state seal in the center. The seal consists of a circular gold band inscribed with the words "The Seal of the State of Washington 1889" in black lettering. The date commemorates Washington state's entrance into the Union.
Within the gold band is a portrait of George Washington on a light blue background.
The state seal depicted on the flag has an interesting history. Shortly before Washington became a state in 1889, a committee brought an elaborate design for a state seal to Olympia jeweler Charles Talcott and asked him to complete it in time for the meeting of the First Legislature in November of that year. The design was a complicated sketch of the port of Tacoma, vast wheat fields, grazing sheep and Mount Rainier. Talcott pointed out that not only was the design too complicated, but it would quickly be rendered obsolete by the growth of the state it was intended to represent. He suggested that something simpler would also be timeless.
To illustrate his point, Talcott picked up an ink bottle and drew a circle around its base. He placed a silver dollar in the circle and traced an inner circle. Within the resulting band he lettered the words that appear on the seal today. In the center he pasted a postage stamp bearing a portrait of George Washington. The committee brought Talcott's impromptu creation to the state legislature, where it was readily approved.
Making the required die from the likeness of George Washington on the postage stamp proved difficult. Under magnification, the picture was insufficiently detailed to be satisfactory when enlarged. George Talcott was given the task of finding a suitable picture and cutting the die. After reviewing several pictures, he found what he was looking for - a color illustration of our first president on a box of "Dr. D. Jaynes' Cure for Coughs & Colds." Grant Talcott did the lettering and George cut the die.
The Dr. Jaynes/Talcott rendition of the seal survived for more than half a century, until in 1967 Seattle graphic designer Richard Nelms was commissioned to create a new insignia. Nelms selected a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington, which was accepted and made the official state seal by the legislature. A nice portrait, but without the interesting history. The original die and press, now more than one hundred years old, is still used by the Secretary of State to impress the seal on official state documents.
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