Our 3×5 ft nylon Jolly Roger pirate flags are fully sewn using 210 denier nylon together that is scientifically treated to resist UV fading, with a bright white canvas header, 2 strong brass grommets, and 4 rows of stitching on the fly end so it lasts long without fraying.
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Piracy flag background
Used to identify a pirate ship in the early 18th century, the Jolly Roger flag is the traditional English name for such flags. The skull and crossbones was used by a number of pirate captains such as “Black Sam” Bellamy, Edward Low and Edward England. The earliest depiction of the Jolly Roger was said to have been used by the infamous Blackbeard himself, as recorded by many authors including Captain John Cranby of HMS Poole.
These flags weren’t flown all the time as pirate ships would have a different “false flag” and use that normally. They would only fly the Jolly Roger once they were about to attack and within firing range of target merchant ships, often together with a warning shot.
Where did the Jolly Roger name come from?
Sometimes the name has claimed to come from the term “Joli Rouge” (“Pretty Red”) in reference to a red flag used by French privateers. This could be used as a symbol for red blood, violent pirates, ready to kill.
By the 19th century the skull and cross bones black flag became a cliché in pirate fiction and the “Golden Age of Piracy” was over. The skull and crossbones flag is often used in film and other media to depict all types of pirates.
What is the meaning of, and who flew the skull and crossbones on the Pirate Flag?
The flag most commonly identified as the Jolly Roger today, the skull and crossbones symbol on a black flag, was flown by some pirates during the 1710s when they were about to attack. It was used by a number of pirate captains, including: “Black Sam Bellamy” – an English pirate who operated in the early 18th century, is best known as the wealthiest pirate in recorded history and one of the faces of the Golden Age of Piracy; “Edward England” – an Irish born pirate who sailed on the Pearl and later the Fancy, for which England exchanged the Pearl in 1720; and “John Taylor” – born in England and was active in the Indian Ocean and best known for participating in two of the richest pirate captures of all time. The Jolly Roger went on to become the most commonly used pirate flag during the 1720s, although other designs were also in use.
When was the skull and crossbones first used?
The skull and crossbones was used from at least the 12th century. It has been used for military flags or insignia and as a warning of the ferocity of the unit displaying it. It became associated with piracy from the 14th century onwards, possibly even earlier. By the 15th century, the symbol had developed into its familiar form.
Did pirates actually fly the Jolly Roger flag?
Yes, pirates did actually fly the “Jolly Roger” or “Pirate” flag! They did not, however, fly the Jolly Roger Pirate flag at all times. Like other vessels, pirate ships usually stocked a variety of flags, and would normally fly a false flag, or no colors, until they had their prey within firing range. When they were within firing range, they would hoist their Pirate flag to signal they were about to attack.
Is it illegal to fly Pirate flags now?
It is not illegal to fly Pirate flags within the United States. There are no federal laws that prohibit the flying of Pirate flags, but flying one could be trickier than that. Flying the Pirate flag on U.S. land or on your boat is one thing but flying one on your boat outside of U.S. Territorial waters could result in a search of your boat.