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Guatemala - Historical Flags

Last modified: 2019-05-16 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: guatemala | los altos | republic of los altos | quetzaltenango |
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Overview

I located <www.deguate.com>, in which we can find some historical flags of Guatemala including the legal sources in Spanish.The site includes:
1823 flag (United Provinces of Central America) - same as below
1825 flag (United Provinces of Central America) - same as below but in lighter blue shade.
1838 flag (State of Los Altos) which described below as VERTICAL, but appears as HORIZONTAL at the site. an horizontal variant appears at Quetzaltenango Department.
1851 flag - same as below
1858 flag - the 1:1:1:3:1:1:1 variant (which is probably the right one).
No mention of the 1843 flags  and 1871 flag , however according also to this site, the vertical bands flag was adopted on 17 August 1871, so maybe there is a mistake in Jaume report.
Dov Gutterman, 7 December 2000

My research indicated that Guatemala has had 13 flag changes since effective independence (from Mexico) in July 1823, including changes in the federal flag of the United Provinces of the Centre of America.
Ralph Kelly, 13 August 2005


1823 - 1824 Flags

Guatemala as member of United States of Central America


image by Jaume Ollé

Abolished: 1 January 1825


Coat of Arms
image contributed by Fred Drews, 23 November 1999

Guatemala as a member of Federal Republic of Central America


image by Jaume Ollé

Adopted: 22 November 1824. Abolished: 1 January 1825
Jaume Ollé

The first flag with B.N. was a military flag! B.N. meaning Batallon Nacional. This flag was not only used in Guatemala.
Ralf Stelter, 7 November 2000

I agree. It was used also in Chiapas and surely also in Honduras, but I can't found any report about use in other provinces.
Jaume Ollé, 11 November 2000


1825 Flag


image by Jaume Ollé

Adopted: 1 January 1825 Abolished: c. 1838. Between c. 1838 and 1843 the flag was used with the arms adopted on 1825 in the central white stripe.
Jaume Ollé


Republic of Los Altos (1838)


image by Jaume Ollé


image by Jaume Ollé

According to William Crampton's "The Complete Guide to Flags" the flag of the Republic of Los Altos (1848) was vertical red-white-light blue with the arms in the center (like the city of Quetzaltenango).
Mark Sensen, 28 July 1996

This is not entirely correct. The correct name of this "republic" is "El Estado de los Altos" which translated could be written as the "State of Los Altos". The exact date of the creation of the state of Los Altos was December 27, 1838 and NOT 1848 as you said.
Guido Solares, 27 July 1998

Actually, the correct name for the Country is "Republica del Sexto Estado de los Altos". Its capital was Quetzaltenango (The second city in size and importance in Guatemala).
Juan Carlos Arriola, 17 November 1998

I located <www.deguate.com>, in which we can find some historical flags of Guatemala including the legal sources in Spanish. The site includes the 1838 flag (State of Los Altos) which described above as VERTICAL, but appears as HORIZONTAL at the site. an horizontal variant appears at Quetzaltenango Department.
Dov Gutterman, 7 December 2000

At J.W Norie - J.S. Hobbs: Flaggen aller seefahrenden Nationen, 1971 [nor71] (original print 1848):
274 Guatamala - Blue-White-Red, no regalia. If the eagle is really a quetzal bird this corresponds with Quetzaltenango Department.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 12 November 2001

From <www.vdiest.nl>:
- 2 Febuary 1838 - State of Los Altos (Republica del Sexto Estado de los Altos) (independence from State of Guatemala, recognized 5 Jun 1838); constituent state of the Central American Federation to 26 May 1839.
- 27 January 1840 - Reincorporated into Guatemala.
- 5 September 1848 - Independence again.
- 21 October 1848 - Reincorporated into Guatemala.
Francisco Santos, 7 August 2003


1843 Flags


image by Jaume Ollé


image by Jaume Ollé

Ratio 2:3 Adopted: 26 Octuber 1843 Abolished: 14 March 1851.
Jaume Ollé


1851 Flag

[Guatemala (1851)]
image by Vincent Morley

The 'Grand Dictionnaire Universelle du XIXe Sie'cle' (Paris 1865) describes a very unusual flag for Guatemala. There is no illustration but the description of the flag is as follows:

"Coupe' verticalement en deux parties, rouge, blanc, jaune horizontalement, et blue, blanc, blue horizontalement."

My interpretation of this description is the image above. The article on national flags would seem to have been written between 1861 and 1863 because the US flag is described as having 34 stars.

Can anyone confirm that this flag existed? If so, does anyone know the significance of the design?
Vincent Morley, 15 July 1997

The "state" (my term) version of the flag (with a coat-of-arms in the center) is illustrated in [gmc17] (flag 446 on page 342.) The description (which follows a very brief history of the country) reads:

"The flag shown in the illustration was the standard adopted May 31, 1858, which preceded the present ensign (see 482)."

The arms in the center are tiny, but they appear to consist of a rather square shield surrounded by a wreath. Above the shield is what appears to be a native headdress / crown. In the chief of the shield are three mountains, beyond which is the sun rising / setting over the Pacific Ocean. The base of the shield consists of the colors of the flag's field (horizontal red / white /red to the left and blue / white / blue to the right with the arms in the center (ie the flag is illustrated on the arms which are in the center of the flag.)
I just checked the September 1934 flag issue of National Geographic and it gives the date of creation of this flag as 1838.
Whitney Smiths books (1975 and 1980) do not refer to this flag.
The plethora of colors in the field of this flag probably result from the United Provinces of Central America before things got sorted out after Spanish rule.
Nick Artimovich, 16 July 1997

I found a larger illustration of that flag in the 1858 official French flag book by Le Gras. The device in the center of the shield is not the coat-of-arms in miniature, rather it is a scroll with the text: 15 September 1851 (their date of independence) A scroll with that date still is featured on the country's coat of arms.
Nick Artimovich, 21 July 1997

According to Flagmaster (Lucien Philippe) the design was made by the president Mariano Paredes and adopted on 14 March 1851. The yellow and red remember the era of Spanish rule (the red is also the federalist color, but I don't know if Paredes was federalist)
Jaume Ollé, 17 July 1997

I've just had a look at William Crampton's [cra90] and he confirms the date of introduction of the flag as 14 March 1851.
On the significance of the red-white-yellow colours, it may be relevant that, according to the same source, another one of the former United Provinces of Central America, Nicaragua, adopted a white-yellow-red tricolour on 21 April 1854 - just three years after Guatemala.
Vincent Morley, 18 July 1997


1:2 variant
image by Ivan Sache , 25 November 1999

Fred Drews sent an image of 1851 flag. It is a variation of the flag above in 1:2 instead of 2:3. I cannot judge which design is the most accurate (and it is probably difficult to judge knowing the age of the flags).
Ivan Sache, 25 November 1999

As the flag after, this showed the closer relations to Spain. The flag also had a state variant with arms. But not the scroll as shown in es Gras 1858. There was an amendment to the 1858 edition which corrected the old illustrations.
Ralf Stelter, 7 November 2000


1858 Flag


image by Ivan Sache , 25 November 1999

[cra90] says that the 1851 flag was replaced on 21 May 1858 by yet another flag with proportions 1:1:1:2:1:1:1 and that this continued in use until 18 November 1871 when the present blue-white-blue vertical triband was introduced.
Vincent Morley, 18 July 1997

Fred Drews sent an image of 1858 flag. Proportion of the horizontal stripes 1:1:1:3:1:1:1 instead of all equal as reported by Vincent Morley. I cannot judge which design is the most accurate (and it is probably difficult to judge knowing the age of the flags).
Ivan Sache, 25 November 1999

The middle part resembles so closely the Spanish flag (war ensign at the time) that I would think the drawing rather intends to represent a flag with proportions 1:1:1:2:1:1:1.
Santiago Dotor, 26 November 1999

The flag was indeed 1:1:1:3:1:1:1. The stateflag bore the arms in the center. As the flag before this showed the closer relations to Spain.
Ralf Stelter, 7 November 2000


1871 Flag


image by Jaume Ollé

Ratio 2:3 Unoficial use: 17 August 1871 to 28 February 1885
Jaume Ollé

Jaume gives a horizontal B-W-B as unofficial flag for 1871 - 1885. Why? What is his source?
There was an official flag since decree of 17 august 1871 B-W-B vertical, and as far as I remember the old coa was used on the state flag until the new coa was introduced in november 1871.
Ralf Stelter, 26 November 2000

I located <www.deguate.com>, in which we can find some historical flags of Guatemala including the legal sources in Spanish. There is no mention of the 1871 flag , however according also to this site, the vertical bands flag was adopted on 17 August 1871, so maybe there is a mistake in Jaume report.
Dov Gutterman, 7 December 2000

In 1871 a liberal revolution was started in Guatemala. Liberal revolutionaries hoisted the HORIZONTAL blue-white-blue flag of the federation. Flag can be see in the Museum of History and Art of Guatemala City. After the victory flag with this colors, but vertical, was adopted. is not clear if was adopted 17 August 1871 (under Decree of Provisory President Miguel Garcia Granados) or 28 February 1885 with President Barrios. Rufino Barrios was president 1873-1885 and probably provisional flag of 1871 was only confirmed in 1885. It can be assumed that in the transitional period (1871-73) the revolutionary flag was unofficial, but currently I believe that it dispeared after 1873. After the research of Amerlink of the old reports published (including the ones in wellknow vexibulletins) about the adoption of vertical flag in 1885, it must be taken under caution. Vertical arrangement was selected because hortizontal arrangement was already used by El Salvador and Honduras.
Jaume Ollé, 9 December 2000


Flags According to Steenbergen Book (1862)


image by Jaume Ollé, 26 July 2003

No. 833 - Guatemala merchantmen, old.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 26 July 2003


image by Jaume Ollé, 21 August 2003

No. 873 - Guatimala (Guatemala). The central coat of arms details are hardly visibles. General aspect remain as in Stenbergen. This oat of arms has a resemblance with the true Guatemala oat of arms (before 1843), but as far I know, never was in Guatemala a flag with oat of arms bearing 8 (4+4) flags at sides. The flag horizontal B-W-B was in use in Guatemala until 1851.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 21 August 2003


image by Jaume Ollé, 21 August 2003

No. 874 - Guatimala. I suspect that this flag must be from El Salvador.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 21 August 2003


image by Jaume Ollé, 28 August 2003

No. 909 - Guatemala. I assume that is the flag of Los Altos.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 28 August 2003


image by Jaume Ollé, 15 November 2003

Addition No. 259 - Guatemala merchantmen (1858), At the foremast, Pilot required.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 15 November 2003

image by Jaume Ollé, 15 November 2003

Addition No. 259a - Guatemala State, Navy and War (1858). [Date 1858 is wrong. This flag was adopted 14 March 1851].
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 15 November 2003


Flags in Album des pavillons nationaux (1889)

Mail flag

image by Ivan Sache, 1 November 2018

"Album des pavillons nationaux et des marques distinctives des marines de guerre et de commerce" (1889) shows the mail flag of Guatemala as vertically divided blue-white.
Ivan Sache, 1 November 2018