Last modified: 2013-12-15 by rick wyatt
Keywords: st. nicholas society of new york city | new york |
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Partial views of the flag of the Saint Nicholas Society of the City of New York can be seen here, here and here. A graphic of the flag is at www.saintnicholassociety.org but perhaps cropped.
As can be seen, the flag, reflecting New York's Dutch origins, is a horizontal tricolor of orange-white-blue, bearing the Society's arms. Orange, white, blue being the flag of the Republic at the time New Amsterdam was founded. Those arms appear to be composed of quarters representing: (1st) the beaver of colonial New Netherland, (2nd) the arms of Amsterdam & New Amsterdam (3rd) the British Royal arms of 1664, the year the city was taken by the English, and (4th) the arms of New York City. Supporters are a settler and a Native American. A gold ribbon beneath the arms reads Oranje Bouven. The crest is a gold cockerel weathervane. The achievement of the arms extends into the orange and blue stripes. Around the achivement is a gold ring bearing the name Saint Nicholas Society above and the words Founded February 1835 below. The background space enclosed by the ring is voided.
Information on the society can be found on their welcome page:
"The Society was founded in 1835 by a group of prominent New York City gentlemen, including Washington Irving, as a membership organization the purpose of which is to preserve knowledge of the history and customs of New York City's Dutch forebears. It is one of the oldest societies in the United States. Membership is by invitation only and limited to those men who can demonstrate descent from a resident of New York State before 1785. By virtue of its membership requirements, many members are descended from the city's first settlers, who included several nationalities and faiths as well as Dutch people and descendants of Native Americans."Ned Smith, 8 February 2011
A charge in the form of a shield charged with a beaver. The beaver was apparently used as a seal by New Netherlands (and even as the seal of New Beaverwick at a time when it had already been renamed "Albany"). I don't know whether there were actual arms based on this.
Images of the arms of the colony of New Netherland, city of New Amsterdan, and a rejected proposal for New Amsterdam are at the New York Public Library's website tinyurl.com/4uzbap6. NYPL's image matches a plate in "Stokes, I. N. Phelps. The iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909. New York : Robert H. Dodd, 1915-1928."
A description of the New Netherland arms is found in "New Netherland: a Dutch colony in seventeenth-century America" by Jaap Jacobs, p. 194 [Amsterdam, 2005]- "a black beaver on a gold field with embroidery of white Zeewant on a blue ground" with a count's coronet as crest. Zeewant was the Dutch version of the Narragansett "sewant"- strings of polished disks made from seashells, also known as wampum, and used as currency in trade with Native Americans.
I'm likewise unsure of arms of New Amsterdam. The Arms of Amsterdam derive their strength from the contrast of the white Andreas Crosses against the entire field, while their own black background doesn't contrast with the red of the rest of the shield. The SNS flag graphic shows a correctly contrasting version that has light coloured stripes between the black and red. The result does not look like the Amsterdam Arms, but does look rather cluttered.
"Oranje Boven" - Orange [-Nassau] superior. Usally translated into English as "Orange On Top"
In the seal graphic the cock looks sinister, but in the flag it looks dexter. The directions it sits appear to be in English: N, E, S, W,, rather than Dutch N, O, Z, W, though it's hard to determine whether this holds in the photographs as well.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 8 February 2011
A differently colored version of those arms appear on the flag of another New York heritage organization. The flag of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of New York appears at www.colonialwarsny.org/flagny.htm.
Ned Smith, 9 February 2011