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Salem, Massachusetts (U.S.)

Essex County

Last modified: 2011-07-08 by rick wyatt
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[Flag of Salem, Massachusetts] image from

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Description of the flag

In 1654, Elihu Yale sent two of his employees to Atjeh, the greatest independent kingdom on Sumatra, to establish the pepper trade. The last bulk cargo of pepper entered Salem, Massachusetts from Sumatra on November 6, 1846, on the brig Lucilla. Ever since the RAJAH of Salem had loaded the first Susu pepper, Salem had held a predominant position in that trade. So important had its position been that, a hundred years later, in Australia, whole peppercorns were still known as "Salem Pepper". In fact the seal of Salem, when reproduced correctly, still bears the picture of an Atjehnese. At the peak of the pepper trade, the city council ordered a seal showing "A ship under full sail, approaching a coast, designated by the costume of the person standing upon it and by the trees near him, as a portion of the East Indies, .... motto 'Divitis Indiae usque ad ultimum sinum'... signifying ' To the farthest port of the rich east...".

George Peabody, son of the patriarch of the pepper merchants, and himself a pepper ship owner, drew a design of a man wearing a flat red turban, red trousers and belt, a yellow knee length robe and blue jacket. There is no people in the East Indies whose costume is closer to this than the Atjehnese, and that was probably his intention.

Only official documents of the City of Salem may contain the seal of the City. It is a violation of State law, and Local Ordinances, to use the City Seal in any capacity not related to official City of Salem business. The City Clerk is the custodian of the City Seal.

Salem is in Essex County.
Dov Gutterman, 13 November 2002

The Latin text on the seal outer ring reads as follow:
Top: Salem: founded 1626.
Those of you who enjoyed learning Latin certainly remember "ab urbe condita" or "urbis conditae" (U.C.), "since the foundation of the city", which was used for Roman dates. "Urbs", the City, was of course Roma, and the foundation year 753 B.C. We are now in year 2755 U.C.
Bottom: Municipal status granted 1836.
Ivan Sache, 14 November 2002

NAVA 13 (1979)

image by Al Kirsch, 31 October 2000

Thirteen horizontal stripes alternating black and orange, and overall a fairy-tale witch flying on a broomstick in black. This flag was raised at NAVA's 13th meeting (not superstitious, are we?), which was held in 1979 in Salem, MA, home of the famous 17th-Century "Witch Trials". While it was no fun for the victims back then, today it's considered cute. I have a 4x6" (10x15cm) version as a souvenir of the meeting. The design is by Znamierowski.
Al Kirsch, 31 October 2000