Maine has the dubious distinction of being a State where NONE of the symbols as adopted by law are being used in common practice. When displayed side by side, the legal and common symbols are quite different.
Few people know that Maine's first official flag was quite different than the one we see in use today (which is not legally correct according to the act of the Legislature that adopted it). Adopted in 1901 and legal until it was replaced in 1909, the first flag is distinctive (no other flag like it in the world-compare a set of State Flags with the present flag and a set with the first flag); simple (a child can draw it); inexpensive to make (manufacturing costs of approximately 33% of the current flag); and, in my opinion, more expressive of the State of Maine than the present flag (which, by law, is a military color):
I have initiated legislation in 1991 and in 1997 to restore Maine's Original Flag but each time it has failed to get out of the State and Local Government Committee.
The flag adopted by the Legislature in 1909 is specified by law to be 4'4" by 5'6", made of silk with the State Coat of Arms embroidered in silk threads in the center, trimmed with a 2" gold fringe, a blue and white cord and tassel, and mounted on a wooden staff that measures 9', not counting brass spearhead and ferrule. There is no flag, not even the Model Maine State Flag in the Adjutant General's Office, that conforms to these specifications:
In 1880, after the removal and destruction of the State Seal by the Fusionist Secretary of State following the loss of a contested election, the Legislature ordered a new Seal cut and made it the Official Seal of the State. They also made it a crime to remove or destroy the Seal.
Typically, the Flag as commonly used is 3 by 5 feet or 2 by 3 feet in size, screen printed nylon with the common version of the arms in the center. It is not fringed, not mounted on a 9 foot pole and does not have the cord and tassel attached to it.
Maine is one of only two states that has a different flag for Marine use (Massachusetts is the other). For all "Merchant and Maritime" uses, the Legislature adopted a special flag in 1939 and it's first major voyage was on board the Schooner Bowdoin under Commander Donald MacMillian in a scientific journey to the Arctic. This flag still exists and it is at the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine:
Maine has a "Uniform Flag Law" that regulates the display of US and Maine Flags and their usage in merchandising, desecration and mutilation.
More information on Maine Flags can be found on the Flags of the World Web Site.
See the History of The New England Flag by Dave Martucci for more on the pine tree as a local symbol.
The Maine Symbols Story Continues...
Legal and Commonly Used Maine Symbols
Historic Militia Flags of Maine
Legislative Efforts to Restore Maine's Original Flag
Maine Municipal Flags
Maine County, City and Town Seals
Maine Municipal Flag Proposals by Dave Martucci
Franco-American Flags in Maine
Other Maine Symbols