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Dolphin flag of Anguilla (1967.09.29-1980.05.30)

Last modified: 2024-05-04 by rob raeside
Keywords: dolphin (orange) |
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1967 Anguilla flag afloat image by Zoltan Horvath, 8 April 2024

See also: Other sites:
  • Current supporters’s website: "This flag although unofficial in the eyes of the establishment is the Flag of Anguilla"
    reported by António Martins, 19 Jul 2005

About the flag


On 12 July 1967 Anguilla seceded from the Associate State and adopted the white flag with three dolphins (standing for friendship, wisdom and strength).
Mark Sensen, 07 Jul 1996

The dolphin flag is a beautiful piece of vexillography. Stuart Notholt, 29 Sep 1996

The three dolphins are coloured orange, to represent endurance unity and strength, and are in a circle for continuity. The flag has a white background, for peace and tranquility, with a turquoise-blue base representing the surrounding sea and also faith, youth and hope.
Dov Gutterman, 02 March 2002, quoting from

The coat of arms of Anguilla has a bottom stripe of light tourqoise-blue. In the flag that stripe is light blue. The reason: the Goverment of Anguilla could not afford the money for flags with a correct shield, as the special shade of bluish-green would have risen the costs for the flags. So the manufacturer decided to make the shield white and blue to keep the costs lower.
Ralf Stelter, 10 May 1999


It (the "dolphin flag") seems to be unofficial. Shaw [shw94] says that Anguilla has had a design which was «unofficial »« since 1967», or shortly after the U.K. forces landed. Crampton [cra90] simply says it was «adopted shortly after its secession in 1967», with no word on the adopting body. It seems to me that there is no reason why the dolphin flag may not still be being used on Anguilla itself. Indeed using its design in the Blue Ensign flag badge seems pretty much to legitimise it to me. Yes, the dolphin flag is still used on Anguilla in its original capacity — unofficially. Its design was taken as the island’s official coat of arms in 1990, and therefore its use was legitimized on a Blue Ensign to form the official flag of the dependency.
Steve Kramer 27 September 1996

The Union Jack and the Three Dolphins flags were used for many years [1967.09.29-1980.05.30?].
Dov Gutterman, 02 Mar 2002, quoting from

I do not think that this flag was suppressed in 1980-1990, it was just not an official flag as far as the St Kitts-Nevis or British authorities were concerned. It is probably reasonable to say that the Union Jack was the official flag on the island, but perhaps not of the island, from 1969 until 1990 ?
David Prothero, 20 July 2005

Anguilla's "national" day is May 30th, when I flew the "Dolphin flag", and I was wondering whether there was anything which actually legally stops Anguilla from applying to have this (apparently very popular and definitely attractive) flag from being officially made the flag of the territory.
Britain's territories had, I though, all got blue ensign flags, so there is some de facto reasoning behind it - but then I remembered Gibraltar, whose flag is of a similar design to Anguilla's: white with a broad coloured base and an emblem centred above it. 
Has Anguilla ever officially proposed a change in its flag to the Dolphin flag since becoming officially a colony/territory in its own right?
James Dignan, 31 May 2007


I think the Anguillan status from 1969 to 1980 should be regarded as a limbo, during which Anguilla technically remained part of the Associated State of St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. They were all still a British colony, and the St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla ensign was probably the legal flag for Anguilla although I would imagine that the British did not deliberately aggravate Anguillans by flying it. The British Commissioner probably flew the UJ and may have turned a blind eye to any appearance of the Anguillan independence flag.
It was neglect from the government in St Kitts which led to Anguillan desire for separation, and from 1969 St. Kitts and Nevis institutions apparently willingly continued that neglect by dropping the name of Anguilla and any pretence of association with Anguilla. For example the St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla Defence Force in 1969 dropped "Anguilla" from its name. But Anguilla’s status remained in limbo and governed by a series of “interim agreements” with Britain, pending formal resolution of its constitutional status.
St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla was granted self-government by Britain on 27 Feb. 1967 — a step towards independence. Anguilla had resented association with St K-N since the early 19th century, and took this step toward independence as an opportunity to rebel against that final fate (while they still had a perhaps more fairly minded Britain with which to negotiate rather than a sovereign government in St. Kitts and Nevis). On 30 May 1967 Anguilla evicted its police who symbolised the St Kitts government, and on 11 July they held a referendum on secession from St K-N (result: 1,813 in favor, 5 opposed). Anguilla consequently set up its own legislative council, and had in effect seceded — but the St K-N-A situation was really a stalemate.

In Dec. 1967, two British MPs worked out the first of several interim agreements whereby a British official (Tony Lee) would "exercise basic administrative authority" in conjunction with the Anguilla Council for a period of one year (January 1968 to January 1969). By the end of that period the St Kitts government and the Anguilla Council had failed to reach any agreement on their future status. Tony Lee left, and Anguilla held a second referendum. Result: 1,739 to 4 against returning to association with St Kitts. Anguilla declared itself an “Independent Republic”. The crisis was heating up, and Britain sent another envoy, William Whitlock, with proposals for another interim British administration. He was expelled within hours of his arrival in Anguilla on 11 March 1969. Eight days later, a small contingent of British paratroops landed on the island to “restore order”. The only resistance was spitting and swearing, and the paratroopers were soon followed by army engineers who embarked on public works projects to make up for all the neglect from St Kitts. Tony Lee returned as “Commissioner”. Anguillans were soon happy with their relationship with Britain, and reluctant to let the troops leave. Lee worked out another “interim agreement” in 1971, and it was not until 19 Dec. 1980 that Anguilla formally disassociated itself from St Kitts as a separate colony. And then St Kitts-Nevis became independent without Anguilla on 13 Sept. 1983.
T.F. Mills, 08 July 1999

I note there seems to be some mystery concernining the origin of the flag for Anguilla during 1969. This relates to the three circular orange dolphins on a white background above a sea of blue. Perhaps I can offer a little insight here.
As an army trained painter & signwriter, which includes painting heraldic signs/shields (such as the Royal Coat of Arms), an Island-wide competition was held during my squadron 6-month stay (48 Filed Squadron, Royal Engineers) and I submitted three entries. If my memory serves me well, I prepared one with a single dolphin and the other with a barracuda but the three dolphins won. Since I had a small range of colors available, orange visually seemed to look more striking and aesthetically bold than the light grays I tried to mix for dolphin's real-like colour. The blue for the sea was literally the only blue paint I had and there were no other suitable colours to tone it down. In a way, I was not surprised that one of my entries was chosen because I produced and painted them professionally (as much as I could working out of a tent) - and cut in a shield shape too.
However, there is a twist to this. The winner (at least for us in the army) was supposed to get a crate of beer - but I am still waiting 42 years later to collect! That said, my wife is treating me for a vacation in August 2012 to Anguilla, so we can celebrate our 40 wedding anniversary and my 65th birthday. While there, I am planning to pay a visit to Government House and demand my crate of beer!
Mike (Marlon) Young, 1 November 2011

And if you want more info (and beautifully illustrated):
Jose A. Narbona, 1 November 2011

Please, let us not rewrite Anguilla's flag history.
The 1968 Spring issue of The Flag Bulletin (vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 52-53) did describe the Anguilla dolphin flag with the three dolphins. 500 of its subscribers received even a copy of a small dolphin flag, for free.
Whitney Smith explained that the dolphin flag was designed by Marvin Oberman of Yonkers, New York, a professional graphic designer who also created the Anguillan coat of arms. Mr. Oberman worked closely with the Anguillan representative in the United States, Jeremiah Gumbs. The flag, according Smith, "has been in use since early October 1967".
Mr. Oberman was quoted in the Flag Bulletin saying: "The flag has a white field for peace, a blue-green band across the bottom symbolizing the sea that surrounds Anguilla, youth, and hope. Three interlocked orange dolphins on the white field represent strength and endurance. ... The total design is meant to represent a bright new forward-looking aspect combined with dignity and freedom
for a newly-emerged independent country."
British forces arrived on 19 March 1969 in  Anguilla to restore order, as Anguilla seceded 12 July 1967 from the other islands St. Kitts and Nevis.
The British Blue Ensign with the shield with the orange dolphins above a blue sea was only introduced soon after 19 December 1980, when the island was formally reconstituted as a British Crown Colony. The shield on the ensign was based on the 1967 dolphins flag.
Jos Poels, 04 November 2011

I think the correspondent's report may mean that the Blue Ensign with a shield was made after the previous flag was already in un-official use in 1969-1980, and *that* is interesting information. Maybe he did design the Anguillean blue ensign and it remained dormant till 1980? (Even though it is the kind of design that could easily be re-invented.)
António Martins-Tuválkin, 05 November 2011

It looks like I have opened a can of worms here and do not know what to say. It seems I've put the cat amongst the pigeons, which is not what I hoped for.
This email response also answers Mr. Poels' earlier response on the subject which I respect and have no qualms with per se. My issue, if it is that, is based on several facts that took place even though much
is now sadly faded in memory. Ordinarily, this 'flag issue' would not matter to me but I detest the thought of someone taking credit when not due.
To illustrate that I am not some kind of a wacko coming out of the woods some 40-plus years later, I respectfully like to share with you a little of my background. Today, most signage, shield work and COAs are screen printed onto self-adhesive decals, (much like bumper stickers) and ceramic transfers for china/table/dinnerware. This is the business I am in and my career since leaving the military.
Fast forward, similarly to some of your colleagues in their field, I am recognized as being one the worlds' leading authorities on screen printing and also an international print judge (see attached photo), an industry expert witness and now chair of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology (ASPT): link As a technical consultant, I travel the world extensively troubleshooting/problem-solving printing operations and conduct the most advance training sessions in printing. Should Mr. Poels require any further support to who I am and what I represent, he needs to go no further than contact two very distinguish fellow countrymen, Wim Zoomer and Ad Versteeg.
One extraordinarily important lesson I learnt over the years professionally troubleshooting is never at first believe in what you hear, a train of thought that may well be present within your particular profession. That is not to say one lies or embellishes but rather makes statements in what they believe is factual only to find later much is incorrect because they were in turn given flawed or erroneous information to begin with. Moreover, merely the omission of crucial facts creates a similar situation because one tends to presume things to "fill-in" the empty spaces to give some sense of finality. By this, I have researched that there are some ambiguity to the so-called dolphins design and whether it was indeed a recognized flag in the sense of what I believe we are referring to. In case of any doubt, I like to think I was a little above the fray regarding the Anguillan flag. Here are some facts as I recall of the events:

Fact 1.
I was asked by my CO if I would be able to submit a colored flag entry or two since I had the means, materials and skills to do a good job even if my design was not chosen. He gave me some chicken-scratching drawings of previous designs that looked like nothing more than what school children could had quickly drawn. He had no idea who did them or from where they came from.

Fact 2. I had prepared several samplings but only submitted the best of three that I thought was worthy. Although I am far from being poetic in designing coat of arms or flags, I just paint them as a signwriter rather than as an artist. I was one of the very few in the army that spent the total of seven years traveling the world painting literally hundreds of flags and COAs as and when needed for different governments, officialdoms and occasions.

Fact 3. Anguilla was no different. I produced numerous COA and flags, including one for every army branch and air force representative that was stationed with us as well as the Metropolitan Police. I also prepared official signs for other nearby Islands including our home base in Antigua, which several included either the flag or COA. On one occasion, I visited a school that doubled as a library in Cordrington, Barbuda, where I had my photo taken standing next to a sign I made previously with their COA (which they shared with Antigua). The photo sent last week of me in a police shirt was actually taken at the steps to that library. In a way, making these entries for the competition was not anything usual as it was my everyday work―thus not detailed specifically in memory or to a level I am sure you guys need.

Fact 4. Mr. Martins-Tuválkin asks if I had any design inspirations, such as the single dolphin and barracuda. Not being a creative designer in any stretch of imagination, I nevertheless remember three points regarding his inquiry. I used the barracuda on one sampling simply because it was the first thing that came to mind as it was a much sort-after fish the local fishermen caught. My tent buddy just happened to be our "beachmaster" who was responsible for all the water sports equipment, power boats, etc., at the beach for recreation purposes (as we did not officially work in the hot afternoon sun). He had several books in his procession about the seas, oceans, fish, etc., and quickly learnt that barracudas do not represent kindness, friendship or the like but, in fact, quite the opposite. Dolphins, however, fitted the role nicely.
I then proceeded to do a single dolphin in a mid-grey tone, one I most certainly remember doing because of great difficulty mixing the right color tone rather than using several shades to simulate a 3-D effect. I then switched to a solid flat orange, albeit more of a reddish tone I believe, or at least recall, than what I see on today's flag and then drew the outline shape of the dolphin from the above mentioned book. As the competition was about 'design', I was not concerned whether the dolphins were anatomically drawn correctly or not, aspect ratio or precise sizing and location. Along with the single barracuda, I had no idea where to locate either motif as they did not seem to fit anywhere.

Fact 5. Mr. Martins-Tuválkin also asks if I should be credited by the design being placed on the British blue ensign and the answer is no ― or at least not to my knowledge. After I was informed my entry  won (which I was told the judging would take place at Government House with perhaps our CO (Commanding Officer), highest ranking police officer on the Island at that time (a Chief Superintendent) and SNOWI (Senior Naval Officer-West Indies from Antigua HQ) a crate of beer would be forthcoming. I did not hear or thought any more about the design or flag (or beer) until early this year.

Fact 6. My comments are as follows as to Mr. Martins-Tuválkin's remaining questions:
- Did I intentionally make changes to the pre-existing dolphin motif? No. I was not even aware it existed, and most certainly not in the form we are talking about. Furthermore, I do not recall ever seeing such flag flown anywhere on the Island - not to say that it wasn't though. This does not surprise me anyhow as I have just learnt it was the unofficial 'rebels' flag and may well have been hidden and replaced by the Union Jack for those wanting to display a flag once the army/police arrived on the Island in 1969. Despite initial problems in the first few days of the army arriving, relationship with the populace was generally very good.

- How did you come across the three-dolphin motif? As mentioned above, I worked initially with a single dolphin, then to three, after reading what they represent in the animal kingdom to mankind. For sure, I have no idea if there are dolphins anywhere close to the Island but that was of no concern to me. It is possible a dolphin was previously drawn on one of the paper designs given to me but again I cannot recall. As for seeing former flags, I think it fair to say I would not have known if I had except for possibly one. After seeing the so-called 'mermaid' flag recently on the internet, I recollect with some certainty an ugly non-descript red flag in a small bar near our camp.

- Confirm the blue ensign dolphin motif in a 3:5 ratio? No. I do not know what shield ratio was used to prepare each design except they were all cut similarly from heavy-weight paper I had at my disposal. That said it would have been close to the shields naval visitors gave to us as a memento of their visit. As for design aspect ratio, see #4 above.

Gentlemen, I cannot express any more diligence of the event that took place than what has already been said. While I realize your profession unquestionably requires accurate records and information, I can only share with you what I know and remember. If I am wrong, then my question goes directly back to you―what on earth did I design that got chosen?
Mike Young, 08 November 2011

The newspaper The Daily Herald in Anguilla wrote in its online edition of 28 May 2010 that the dolphin flag was designed by Jeremiah Gumbs with the help from an  artist from New York. According the newspaper Gumbs represented Anguilla at the United Nations. This is strange, as Anguilla never was admitted to the United Nations, as not being recognized as an independent country.

Gumbs role in the dolphin flag was as follows:
"Jeremiah Gumbs is another Anguillian who played a leading role in the Revolution. He represented Anguilla at the United Nations and put forward the island's case explaining the domination of St. Kitts over the years and the lack of paved roads, electricity, pipe-borne water, telephones and other facilities. It was Gumbs who introduced the flag with the three dolphins that is still
sometimes used today.

Flags of Anguilla

The flag originated from a coat of arms first designed by Gumbs' wife, Lydia, with assistance from a New York artist. The three dolphins are coloured orange to represent endurance and they are in a circle for continuity. The flag has a white background denoting peace and tranquillity, with a turquoise blue base depicting the sand and the sea.
Before the revolution the only flag flown in Anguilla was the Union Jack. At the time of the revolution, another flag was introduced which featured two mermaids, one red and one blue, clinging to a shell. This flag was sent by a group of Anguillians living in the United States and was hoisted when the statehood flag of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla was torn down. It was never really accepted and was soon replaced by the three dolphins flag, which immediately became popular and is still used today by some people, though it is not the official flag.
The current flag of Anguilla was first hoisted on May 30, 1990. It is a blue ensign with a Union Jack in the top left corner and a shield on the right side which shows three orange dolphins on a white background with a turquoise blue base. The flag therefore incorporates affiliation to Britain and the Anguilla three dolphins flag which was first used in the days of the Anguilla Revolution in 1967. It was designed by Brian Canty a former governor of Anguilla who suggested the new flag, drew sketches and gained approval from Her Majesty the Queen.
The Governor's official flag comprises the Union Jack and the Anguilla coat of arms surrounded by a laurel wreath. It is flown at Government House when the Governor is in residence and on any car or boat in which he is making an official visit.
The Coat of Arms uses the same dolphin design as on the flag and is edged with gold. The official seal is the shield with a double circle around it containing the words, "Anguilla, Strength and Endurance."

The full article is to be found at:
Jos Poels, 09 November 2011

The government of Anguilla issued on 2 August 1968 a statement on the adoption by the Anguilla Council of the dolphin flag. In part it read:

"... Although other flag designs were drawn up, the Anguilla Council selected the flag with a white background denoting peace and tranquillity, on which three interlocking orange dolphins are placed in a circular manner symbolizing unity, strength and endurance. The blue-green border at the bottom represents the surrounding sea, also faith, youth and hope ... members of the Anguillan Council wanted a flag which would represent, with dignity, the spirit and ideals of an energetic people, assuming responsibility, in the quest for self determination and prosperity.

The whole history of the dolphin flag is to be found in The Flag Bulletin, Vol. 30, no. 5/143 (September/October 1991), pp. 158-181. The article proves that Whitney Smith quite soon after the flag was developed in 1968 knew which persons were involved in designing the dolphin flag. He mentions Jeremiah Gumbs and his wife Lydia, who worked together with the graphic designer Marvin Oberman of Yonkers, New York.
For this, it seems to me it is impossible that the dolphin flag was designed (Mr. Young states 1969) after it was approved around August 1968.
Jos Poels, 10 November 2011

Version afloat

1967 Anguilla flag afloat image by Gvido Pētersons and António Martins, 15 November 2000

The flag was manufactured in two proportions: 1:2 for use at sea, and 3:5 for use on land.
Ralf Stelter, 27 Jun 1999


1967 Anguilla flag afloat image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 20 July 2005

I tried to find on the web photos showing the dolphin flag, but I had no luck so far. As for photos of the current flag (both pre- and post-1999), I found only examples of the official design.
I found though this site of a current supporters of the dolphin flag:
«This flag although unofficial in the eyes of the establishment is the Flag of Anguilla», at
António Martins-Tuválkin, 20 July 2005