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Retail & Vexillology

Last week’s farmer’s market was even more surprising than the first. We brought more beer, and despite the everpresent threat and/or delivery of rain, we sold nearly all of it.

One of the questions we had to answer quite a lot was, of course, “When can I get a growler filled at the brewery?”

How’s today work for you?

Dave delivers our brand new glycol system

From 3-7pm today and tomorrow, 6/14 & 6/15, swing on by 15 Lafayette Ave 14213 and get yourself some growlers of Frank and The Whale. You can buy one of ours or bring your own, and we also have fun stuff like glassware and growler suits for sale (or, if you wear a men’s small, shirts!).

These aren’t necessarily ongoing hours. Consider it a beta test, if you will. We don’t want to have retail hours if we sell out of beer, so we’re going to see how much people buy so we can gauge how much we need on hand. Next week we may have the same hours, or fewer, or none at all. I’ll definitely include it in our Thursday update, but they’ll be posted earlier on Twitter and Facebook.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to hand the mic to Ethan, who wants to talk to you about vexillology this Flag Day.

What do you mean you don’t know what vexillology means? (Shh: I had to look it up earlier too. It’s okay.)

Buffalo Flag History

Buffalo’s first flag was adopted by the Common Council in 1912. Then-mayor L.P. Fuhrmann had received a request from a publisher in NYC to provide them with a copy of the city flag graphic for “a work which includes colored illustrations of the municipal flags of various larger cities.” The mayor and Commissioner of Public Works, Francis G. Ward, proposed a flag composed of the City Seal superimposed on the State Coat-of-Arms “all in blue upon the field of the flag in Continental buff.” Although the Ad Club submitted a competing design (by Charles Rohlfs: his house still stands today at 156 Park, between Allen and North) comprised of “a white bison in a field of blue, which is surrounded by a bar of white, and on the exterior, a bar of red,” the council adopted the mayor’s proposal as the official flag and the Ad Club’s as the official “trade flag” on the 15th of July, 1912.

FX Schwab, himself a brewer!

Buffalo’s first flag was not exactly a success. In 1922, mayor F.X. Schwab remarked to the council that he did not feel that the adopted flag “sufficiently represent[s] the City of Buffalo.” He continued: “I have never seen the flag in use in this City, and I do not know that any flag has ever been made of the design…” At this time, the mayor proposed a flag design contest “open to all the residents of the city including the school children as well as the students at the Buffalo Art School.”

This contest yielded no winning design. On 31st Oct, 1923, chairman of the City Planning Committee George H. Norton reported that “while several of the designs submitted are inherently meritorious, these designs are, for the most part, complex and are not readily adaptable for reproduction for flag use or for decorative purposes.” A new contest was proposed, with a higher award. “The dignity of the city, with the significance of its history, demands a distinctive flag reflective of the past achievements and suggestive of the resources of the present and the potentialities of the future” said Norton on 5th March, 1924.

73 designs were submitted in this contest, and the City Planning Committee (with input from the Fine Arts Academy) proposed that submission #16 be selected “as the most suitable one (with certain modifications) for Buffalo’s new City flag because of it’s simplicity, distinctiveness and economy of manufacture.” The award–$250.00–was given to the designer, local architect Louis Greenstein. Interestingly, his design was a modification of his own prior design for the Buffalo Old Home Week contest in 1907. This prior flag had been manufactured (by A.J. Binnie, who went on to start Ace Flag, still in business today) but never adopted as official.

Buffalo's flag

At the flag dedication ceremony on 14th June (Flag Day), 1924, mayor Schwab said that he hoped the flag, which exemplified the “energy and zeal behind the spirit of a new Buffalo” would be a point of pride for every Buffalonian.

“We can make it an honor to our people or we can give it a history that will invite scorn from everybody. To this flag must be given our highest respect and deepest affection. It signifies the love and admiration which every Buffalonian should have for his city as his home and the home of his friends. And hereafter, Buffalo’s flag and Buffalo’s community spirit are one and the same thing: as the flag and ourselves are identical and inseparable.”

Today, Buffalo’s flag is as unknown to most as it was to F.X. Schwab in 1922. Although Buffalo Place has provided flags for several sites downtown—the Rotary Rink, the “Five Flags” at Division, the Market Arcade—it flies in front of very few municipal buildings, not even City Hall.

So fly your flag, and fly it prominently! Share its history with friends and neighbors!

–Ethan Cox; 5th May, 2006