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Norfolk, Virginia (U.S.)

Independent City

Last modified: 2018-07-26 by rick wyatt
Keywords: norfolk | virginia |
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[Flag of Norfolk, Virginia] 3:5 (usage) image(s) by permission of David B. Martucci
image(s) from American City Flags, Raven 9-10 (2002-2003), courtesy of the North American Vexillological Association, which retains copyright.

See also:

Current Flag

Text and image(s) from American City Flags, Raven 9-10 (2002-2003), courtesy of the North American Vexillological Association, which retains copyright. Image(s) from American City Flags by permission of David B. Martucci.


Norfolk’s flag is a horizontal tribar of equal blue, gold, and blue stripes. In the center of the gold stripe is the city seal in blue and gold on a white background, separating two inscriptions, Norfolk on the left, and Virginia on the right, both in Old English script in blue. The primary element of the seal is a fully rigged sailing ship in the upper portion, sailing toward the fly. Below, past a shoreline, is a farmer’s plow. At the base is a group of three wheat sheaves. The motto ET TERRA ET MARE DIVITIAE TUAE forms a semicircle surrounding the ship and CRESCAS appears below the sheaves of wheat. This Latin motto has been translated as “Your riches on both land and sea— may they increase”. The images and letters in the top half are dark blue, those in the bottom half are gold, all on a white background. In a ring enclosed by inner and outer circles are inscriptions separated by dashes: TOWN 1682—BOROUGH 1736—CITY 1845 (upper), and CITY OF NORFOLK, VIRGINIA (lower).
Richard Monahan, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003


Navy blue emphasizes Norfolk’s status as home to the world’s largest naval base. Gold is for the riches of the land. The Old English inscription font reminds viewers of Norfolk’s origins in England. The ship in the seal reflects Norfolk’s ties to the Navy and the role of commerce in Norfolk’s prosperity. Sheaves of wheat and the plow highlight agriculture’s importance in the settlement and current economy of Virginia. The dates refer to Norfolk’s founding as a town (1682), its charter as a borough (1736), and its recognition as a city (1845).
Richard Monahan, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003


Introduced by the Norfolk Advertising Board. The flag has been used since 1946. The seal, similar to the previous seal, was adopted by the board of aldermen in March 1913.
Flag adopted: 1946 (official status uncertain).
Richard Monahan, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003


A committee of the advertising board consisting of City Clerk John D. Corbell, Board Manager Francis E. Turin, W. M. Bott, and Charles A. Morrisette (an artist who painted the first draft).
Richard Monahan, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003

More about the Flag

The municipal flag was very prominently displayed on public buildings and on the stages of the school auditoria in the three schools which I attended in that city.
Ron Lahav, 22 February 2004

With respect to the Norfolk city flag itself, the use of an Old English type face for the lettering on each side of the city seal is a result of a conscious decision to copy the type face used for the leading newspaper in Norfolk (and more recently in all of Tidewater Virginia), the Virginian-Pilot, formerly known as the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. The Pilot has dominated Norfolk and more recently all of southeastern Virginia since the last quarter of the 19th Century. It was the Pilot which organized the movement for a Norfolk City Flag (the exact date slips my mind, but I believe that it was during the interwar period), and in recognition of the newspaper's work in this regard the City Council at the time (it might still have been the Board of Aldermen) adopted the type face used by the newspaper. Over the years the paper's type face has changed, both externally and for the inside pages, and for a time I seem to recall that the lettering used on the Norfolk city flag would change to reflect this. Sometimes the face used on the interior pages, notably on the editorial page, would differ from that used on the masthead. The version which I saw in our family synagogue during my visit had a slightly different version of the type face, more in keeping with the present masthead usage; the type face used on the flag shown above seems to me to resemble that used on the editorial page of the Pilot when I was growing up, during the 1950s and 1960s.
Ron Lahav, 29 March 2008

Detail of Seal

[Flag of Norfolk, Virginia] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 27 March 2008

At there's a large b/w image of the seal. See <us-vanf).gif> attached, matching the colors used for the seal on the flag. Non-flag uses of the seal seem to be fully colored, as shown at,, or

At it says that the "Norfolk seal can often be found in the waters around the Norfolk coast"; local vexillologists with scuba diving gear may want to check.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 27 March 2008

Former flag

As a borough, Norfolk at one time had an earlier flag. This flag features, in the fly, an allegorical scene of a classically dressed Virginia, extending her hand in welcome to Norfolk, dressed as a daughter of the sea, rising to accept her greeting. Above, a phoenix flies toward the sun. Latin mottoes appear above, Deo Juvante Resurgam (“Destroyed in youth, I shall rise again with God’s help”), and below, Norfolk Reflorescens (“Norfolk flourishes again”). On the reverse is a sailing ship with an inscription, Norfolk, Sept. 1836. Miscellaneous symbols are Norfolk’s official flower, the crape myrtle, and its mace (the only original city mace in the United States, presented to Norfolk by Lieutenant Governor Dinwiddie in 1753). None of the available descriptions of this flag mentions its colors.
Richard Monahan, American City Flags, Raven 9-10, 2002-2003