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C.H. Donner (German Shipping Company)

Reederei Conrad Hinrich Donner

Last modified: 2017-11-11 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: donner |
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[C.H. Donner] image Jarig Bakker, 13 Jan 2006 See also:

C.H. Donner

Quoting Jorge’s message of 20 December 2004, describing a house flag: “Here's another attractive flag with an almost legible caption.  The flag is white with a blue cross throughout and each quarter thus defined contains a red disc centered in it. Over the intersection of the crosse's arms, a white square, outlined in black, contains a blue D capital.”

Recently encountered on a German auction site (end date now being 26 June), here is the direct link to ‘C.H. Donner, Hamburg’:representing the album picture – Jorge already giffed this one (the ‘D’ is somewhat smaller in the album version).

To recall, the above belonged to a German cigeratte album (“Flaggen, die über Meere Völker verbinden“ i.e. Flags linking – or joining – peoples across the seas, Massary, Berlin, 1930).

Sparse references to ships in the 1840’s and 1850’s are found on the internet.  But there is a bank bearing the same name, showing  this very flag on the home page: Founded in 1798 by Conrad Hinrich Donner and offering a variety of financial services, the bank mentions on its site that said C.H. Donner was a shipowner as well.  The ‘Unternehmen’ (firm) section, ‘Geschichte’ (history) subsection shows the ship ‘Conrad Hinrich’; in 1871 the firm moved from Altona – new Prussian territory – to the Free City of Hamburg.  There, Donner went on to become an important bank (the animation shows the company flag in b/w with the ‘D’ in the cross’s centre, no square).
Jan Mertens, 25 Jun 2006

C.H. Donner variant 1

[C.H. Donner cariant 1] image Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 Aug 2008

Reederei Donner, Altona

Brief history: The city of Altona was privileged by the Danish court from the very first moment in order to become a rival of nearby Hanse city of Hamburg. So king Frederik III. in 1664 granted the title of a city to the small fisher village, after Glückstadt had failed as Hamburgs rival. The target was to organize the trade with England and America via river Elbe. Furthermore the Danish court was generous to foreigners and fugitives for religious reasons. Everybody was allowed to celebrate his own religion. Therefore Mennonites from Holland, Huguenots from France and Jews from Spain and Portugal settled down here as traders and craftsmen, bringing their proper skills with them.
Finally the Danish crown gave to Altona the privilege of being a free port.
So Conrad Hinrich Donner on 1st January 1798 decided to establish his own company in Altona as a merchant bank and trading company.
A few years later, in 1806, Napoleon I. occupied Hamburg and began to organize his continental blockade against England. Hamburgs shipping companies were suffering seriously, for their ships had either been blocked or captured by British or French navy. Altona as a part of Denmark was neutral and its ships had been protected by the strong Danish navy. The prices for ships in Hamburg were really low in those days. In this very moment Donner began to buy ships and built up his own fleet.
Denmark supplied the citizens of Hamburg and the French occupation forces with food. Therefore ships were needed.
In 1845 the company,  now lead by Bernhard Donner,   has four sailing ships and is constructing a fifth new iron sailing ship. In 1850 business with East Asia is flourishing. The company is trading coal and grain, spices and sugar, which is refined in an own factory. When Prussian troops occupied Altona in 1864 and Schleswig-Holstein was ceded from Denmark to Prussia, the company was moved to Hamburg a few years later in 1871.
Source: Kristina Dörge. “200 Jahre Conrad Hinrich Donner Bank 1798-1998”, Hamburg 1997; p.21f.; p.62ff.
For further information: company website.

Today C.H. Donner is only a private bank. I don’t know, when exactly the shipping company was dissolved, but two facts are for sure. The shipping company existed at least until 1897, for there is a flagchart from this year, showing the same flag as that one painted by Jarig Bakker.
Source: Map over Niederelbe, lithography from 1897, being free appendix to “Delcken und Behrmann’s Neue Monatshefte”, published in: Carsten Prange: “Auf zur Reise durch Hamburgs Geschichte – A journey through Hamburg’s history”, Hamburg 1990, ISBN 3-92084-35-0; p.253 (images very small).
The company must have disappeared before 1912, because “Lloyds Flags and Funnells“ (version 1912) shows no image of the flag.
Today there exist various flags.

Houseflag: The ratio is 3:5. It is a white flag with a centred blue cross. A white serifed capital “D” is superimposing the intersection point of crossbars. In the centre of each white quarter is a red dot.
This flag is hoisted on top of Ballindamm branch.
Source: I spotted this flag at Ballindamm on 21 April 2007

The houseflag is still used but there are official company flags in a blue and a white version, mostly used as banners. They show the so called “plum”, the logo of the owners of the bank.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 Aug 2008

C.H. Donner tableflag

[C.H. Donner tableflag] image Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 Aug 2008

Tableflag: The ratio is 3:5. It is a white flag with the companies logo in the centre of the flag (RGB ≈ (119/129/196)) and in the upper hoist corner (a little bit smaller and blue). The logo is underlined by a black inscription. 1st line: “CONRAD HINRICH DONNER”, 2nd line: “PRIVATBANK SEIT 1798”(a little bit smaller). The logo is a circle with  two  diagonal bars, coming up from the edge, the left one is slightly thicker.
Source: own photo.

Companyflag: The ratio is 3:5 or, as a banner about 5:2. It is a blue flag with a white companies logo in its centre. The logo is underlined by a white inscription. The words are the same as above.
Source: own photo.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 Aug 2008

C.H. Donner companyflag

[C.H. Donner companyflag] image Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 Aug 2008

Companyflag: The ratio is 3:5 or, as a banner about 5:2. It is a blue flag with a white companies logo in its centre. The logo is underlined by a white inscription. The words are the same as above.
Source: own photo.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 Aug 2008