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Whaling flags in Svalbard

Last modified: 2014-05-29 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: svalbard | whaling |
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Some time ago I saw a flag associated with Svalbard (perhaps in the Norman flags poster). It was horizontal a three band with a whale in center. I don't remember exactly and I can't find the drawing that I made then, but seems that I recollect Yellow-White-Blue with a whale. Today I have more details about the flag: the upper stripe is red (quoted as "rood" in Dutch) and rest is according my description. I can't understand the article (being in Dutch) but seems that is a flag related with Wilhem Barentz and the Nederlandsche Noordsche compagnie (c. 1600).
Jaume Ollé, 28 July 1999

The Dutch Noordsche Compagnie (Nordic Company) was founded 27 January 1614 by patent from the States General. It received the monopoly for whaling in the area between Nova Zembla and Street Davis. On Spitsbergen (Dutch for Svalbard) the settlement Smerenburg was founded. The company was dissolved in 1642, due to competition from both the Danish Islandic Company and Dutch cities who broke the monopoly. In 1645 the States General gave the whaling free for competition.
Source: Nijhoffs Geschiedenis-lexicon Nederland en België, 1981.

I've seen twice small (unclear) depictions of paintings with the Dutch tricolour and the whale in the centre, waving on what seems to be a whaling station. However I don't have further information, and I still have some questions:

1) was it the flag of the Dutch Nordic Company, or of private whalers?

2) on the photo's of the paintings I saw, in one the whale is facing the hoist of the flag, on the other facing the fly. Which is correct (I presume the first)?

3) is the whale spurting water or not?

4) did the upper stripe change from orange to red, like the national flag itself, or did only one of these versions exist?

Mark Sensen, 31 July 1999