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I called the administration in Tønsberg to ask. They said that the city does
not have a flag. They use a circular emblem [see below] that
is not heraldically correct, and thus not officially approved. This emblem is
not used on flags.
Jan Oskar Engene, 17 January 1997
In a group of Norway regional and local flags I found two flags not
identified. They are in pattern similar to the regional flags but include in the
group of local flags. Tønsberg: horizontal red, white, blue, white, red (circa
Jaume Ollé, 16 January 1997
I do not know what the R-W-B-W-R pattern referred to by Jaume could be – it
would look much like a variation on the national flag of Norway without the
cross. Such designs are sometimes used for decorations – you can hang such
banners in ways not acceptable for the national flag.
Jan Oskar Engene, 17 January 1997
I have commented upon this observation and attribution before. There is
nothing – apart from the report in Flaggenmitteilungen – to suggest that
this is the flag of Tonsberg. Rather, it looks more like decoration bunting or
even a house flag of a shipping company.
Jan Oskar Engene, 31 July 2001
Flag of 1971
image by António Martins-Tuvalkin
In my old hometown of Tønsberg, I was asked to write a piece for a local
newspaper on the question of a city flag, and had the occasion to look into
matter in the local library. What I have found out so far was that the city had
used a flag in 1925 and a short while following this, and a hanging in its 1100
years celebration in 1971. The latter was divided vertically blue/white, with
the older city seal from the 13th Century (castle on hill
above boat on sea with inscription around, which is the coat-of-arms of Tønsberg
today) in the middle. The former was horizontally divided blue-white-blue with
the proportions 1:3:1, and ending in a shallow swallowtail (quite possibly as in
the signal flags for Alfa and Bravo, Tønsberg being
a very maritime city). The colours were taken from the younger seal/arms of the
city, from 1610 (castle with three towers). The Blue-White-Blue flag is not
striking in its originality!
Knut A. Berg, 22 July 1998
You can see the seal of Tønsberg at the official site of the municipality http://www.tonsberg.kommune.no/.
Jostein Nygård, 31 July 2001
Quoting from a book named "Norske kommunevåpen", my translation:
"Tønsberg uses as its symbol the civic seal from middle ages. It is preserved in only one impression from 1349, hanging from a letter ...
Seal depicts a stone tower and a wall on a hill and below those a ship and waves. The motives are, no doubt, inspired by Slottsfjellet with its castle and circular wall and with sea and fjord below. The inscription reads SIGILLVM.BVRGENSIVM.D'.TVNESBER (seal of the burg of Tunesberg). ..."
This seal is estimated to be from around 1250. Another seal was in use since around 1610 to early 20th century, when the use of the medieval seal was reverted to.
There is no royal warrant or whatever regarding this, but the impression given in the book (by providing a coloured image in place otherwise reserved only for accepted coat-of-arms) is that due to the documented use the seal is to be regarded as equal in status with other newer coat-of-arms of Norwegian communes.
There is no mention of flag (though that is not suprising, flags are rarely
mentioned in the book).
Željko Heimer, 31 July 2001