Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My new Flags of the World set

Well, I finally did it, I added something to my flag collection I have wanted for a really long time. I have had a fascination with the flags of different nations for some time, probably started by a game I had as a child. Like most children I had a memory game when I was growing up, and my particular version used world flags as the symbols to be matched in the game.

When I started taking an interest in flags, I had noticed a display of all the flags of the world using miniature flags. The display caught my eye, and some years later I found an advertisement for a set just like it. I didn't persue it at first for a variety of reasons, first is the high price for the collection, and the other is the space requirements. The display takes up quite a bit of room, even if it is in miniature.

Well, like most things you desire, it keeps picking at you, I tried to quash the desire by getting a Flags of the World screensaver for the computer, and that seemed to work for awhile. However, every so often my mind would come back around to wanting the actual flag set.

Now, to be fair, this set was designed with commercial, not residential utilization in mind. The target audience for this set is schools, libraries, museums, lobbies and board rooms of multinational corporations and possibly even transportation venues for international travel, such as travel agents, airports, railway stations and the like. Part of the reason for this is the set, when properly displayed is 140" long, that is 11.5'! Think about that, in your house where do have 11.5' of uninterrupted room at a height that is suitable for visually enjoying the set. In terms of price, a fair market price for the set seems to be around $500, which is in two components, the miniature flags themselves retail for around $300-$350 depending on where you look, and the woden base goes for $150-$200 depending on where you look. These factors limit the home appeal of these sets to serious flag collectors only.

Well, this spring the urge came up again, and as I was searching various internet sites, I found a deal on the flags from Flags Georgia ( ) who was and still is selling the collection for $230. Hey that is a great price, and their price for the base is right in line with everybody else at $175. On the morning of Holiwood Nights, I did stop by my local flag shop to get their quote on the set. They indicated the suggested retail price, and that would be about $325 plus about $180 or so for the base. So even though I respect my local flag shop and try to support local business I can't overlook the $100 savings. So I stewed on it for a few weeks, and then decided that since the price was so much lower than what I had seen anywhere else to go ahead and buy it.

So on a Friday night I went out to their website and ordered the flag collection and base, and learned the shipping charge would be $12, which is very reasonable considering the bulky size of the item. In fact I was half expecting an email or phone call to break it to me that either the item price was incorrect or the shipping price was too low. But, in fact I was quite surprised to return home from work on Wednesday to find a 6'x1'x1' carton sitting in my living room. Mind you the that flag store has stated hours that do not include weekends. I do believe shipping services are getting a lot faster.

So, I sit there like a kid on Christmas, first I open the carton and pull out the three parts of the base, each wrapped in nice thick foam padding. The three parts of the base include two identical end parts, each about 51' long that have a row of holes drilled in the top to hold the flags in a nice straight line while on a gradual incline to the center. The center part, while shorter at only 38", has a much more pronounced arch. The set comes with two wooden pegs to hold the three parts togehter, the pegs rest in holes on the ends of the center piece, and holes in the bottoms of the end pieces slip over the pegs. The metal fasteners that hold the actual racks to the wider wooden bases are recessed so you don't have to worry about damage to your furniture.

So I pulled the three parts of the base out and set them up (not connected) on my living room floor, then proceeded to pull several plastic bags out of the carton each bag holding a multitude of miniature flags. I was kind of hoping the flags would be in the bags in some kind of order, hopefully alphabetical, but that was not the case. What I did next was to grab the catalog I received from my local flag shop which had a Flags of the World section I could use as a check off. This set contains a miniature 4"x6" "silk like" flag for each nation, mounted on a 10" tall plastic staff with a gold-tone spear tip. The flags are dyed to remarkable detail for such small flags and I notice the dye work must be done before the flag is stitched on all four sides to prevent fraying.

Anyway, I grab my list of flags from that catalog (which is also a good flag ID chart) and a pen and start to inventory the flags. As I am inventorying the flags, I place them into the bases. If the flags are towards the ends of the set, I count holles, if not I guesstimate and adjust them later as the situation calls for. In accordance with Flag Code, I place the flags into the base in alphabetical order from left to right, with the exception of the United States flag at its own far right (the viewers left). Even though it is a work night when I receive the set, I stay up probably way too late all giddy and happy and placing the flags into the racks. I am also happy to report that all the flags were there. With that, I leave the set in the living room and go on to bed.

The next day I leave the set in the living room again while at work, then when I get home I decide to take some photos with it. To add to the international flair of the collection, I reach into my flag closet and pull out a 3'x5' Olympic flag I had purchased off eBay about 4 years ago. I proceed to take photos of the set, and since if you are still reading this, you must be interested, here is what I bought:

United Nations miniature flag set with full size Olympic flag

When I got done taking photos with it, my mom offered to take a photo of me posing with it, so here is the World Flag Set with its proud owner:

United Nations miniature flag set and its proud owner

After the photo shoot, I move the flag set to its permanent home, which will be the balcony ledge at the top of our stairs, which works well since I have the entire second floor to myself. The balcony ledge is only 9' long, so I still have to display the set in two rows instead of the one long row intended.

Here is the set looking edge on from the top of the stairs:

United Nations miniature flag set

But to give you a better idea, here is a front on view of the set in its new home, taken from a side angle:

United Nations miniature flag set

I did note that the set even has the brand new Iraq flag that was just adopted in January:
New Iraq flag - no stars

And that even though they rendered all the flags in 4"x6", even if the flag is square like Switzerland's is, which is also done at the real UN, except they use 4'x6', they did stay true to the unusual shape of the flag of Nepal:

The most unusual flag of Nepal

So, now its a month later, and yes I do still enjoy having the set, and I still look over a couple of the flags every night. I do note that I am not done here, as it seems 1 or 2 nations decide to redesign their flag each year, which means that will keep me on my toes staying current, and of course that means more trips to my local flag shop to buy the new flags to fill in when things change. In fact I have already done this as being Catholic I recognize Vatican City (Holy See) even though they are not a UN member, and look there is one extra hole in this rack.

So I went out and added the Vatican (Holy See) flag to the display. (Also buying a new full size United States flag for the house as I had just changed out the flag, and always like to keep a spare on hand). I was surprised when I got home and also found a miniature United States flag in my bag, but this one was made of a courser material, not the silk like material and was on a wood staff. I don't remember buying this, then I looked closer, the miniature flag is their business card. The wooden flagstaff has all the inforation on it you would expect from a business card.

Well, its getting late tonight, time to go to bed, and since I pass the flag set on my way to the bedroom, it gives saying Goodnight to the World, a whole new meaning.


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