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Proposed Bath city flag reflects seafaring tradition

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Proposed Bath city flag reflects seafaring tradition

BATH — Just in time for the annual festival that celebrates the city's shipbuilding history, a proposed flag design reflecting that theme is expected to go to the City Council.

The council, which was presented with lead designer Jeremy Hammond's proposal earlier this month, meets Wednesday, July 3, just as the 41st Bath Heritage Days gets started.

The top half of the design depicts a golden ship against a red background. The bottom half has two wavy blue lines, against a white surface.

"A great deal of thought went into it, despite it being a fairly simple design," said Hammond, a Bath resident who works as manager of agency services at the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

He said he has been a student of heraldry since he discovered a book on the subject at the Patten Free Library as a child. Along with studying heraldry, which he said has an intertwined history with vexillology – the study of flags – Hammond is an amateur graphics and web designer.

The proposed Bath flag is the first Hammond has designed, although he has worked on coats of arms.

"I knew from the start that it would make sense to do something that was sort of classical in style," Hammond explained."I wanted the flag to sort of seem timeless, like a lot of flags that are currently used and regarded highly."

He looked for sources of heraldry and flags from early Bath history, he said, noting that much of the design is based on the coat of arms of the city of Bath in Somerset, England. The image was also inspired by the coat of arms of George Popham, the namesake of the colony where the first European ship built in New England, the Virginia, was constructed not far from Bath in 1607-1608.

The two blue stripes in the design allude to Merrymeeting Bay and the Kennebec River, the two major bodies of water around Bath, Hammond said.

A square-rigged ship appears on the Bath Police Department patch, the weathervane of City Hall, the city seal and the Morse High School logo, he said, explaining the rationale behind the vessel he incorporated into the design.

Hammond, 27, attended Morse with City Councilor Sean Paulhus, who is a member of the council's Flag Committee. Councilors David Sinclair and Carolyn Lockwood also serve on the committee; Mari Eosco was a past member.

The same event inspired both Hammond and Paulhus: When the city's information center opened, a blue flag with a white question mark flew outside the building, next to the Maine and U.S. flags.

"It got us both thinking about a flag for the city of Bath," Hammond said.

As they traveled to Vermont together last year to visit a mutual friend, they talked about designing a flag and doodled designs in the car. Hammond drew up some drafts and ran them by the Flag Committee, which offered input along the way and agreed this spring on a design to propose to the rest of the City Council.

"I think (the flag) would be a nice symbol ... another symbol to use to show off our pride of our city," Paulhus said earlier this month.

In designing the flag, which he is donating to public domain, Hammond said he also sought feedback from the American Heraldry Society and received support from the New England Vexillological Association. Hammond, who is also a fellow of the International Association of Amateur Heralds, was also assisted by a staffer at the Maine Maritime Museum in selecting the ship used in the design.

"I really like Bath," Hammond said. "It's been my home most of my life ... and I keep getting images of being able to actually fly the flag of Bath and show pride for my city."

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.