The Jolly Roger Pirate Flag – It’s for Real!

Ahoy, matey!

In honour of the International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th we proudly present one of the secrets treasures on the Åland Islands. It’s one of the world’s few real remaining Jolly Roger pirate flags. Sailors and landlubbers alike rejoice!

The Jolly Roger Pirate Flag at the Åland Maritime Museum.

The pirate flag is believed to be the 18th century and has been on Åland since the beginning of the 20th century. The flag was bought in a North-African harbour by a sailor from Åland. It became part of the museum’s collections in the 1930’s when Mr. Karl Holmqvist had started to collect items for the museum. The flag is alleged to be authentic and is one of a very small number of real pirate flags still in existence.

The flag is usually on display at the Åland Maritime Museum‘s Cabinet of Curiosities. However, the museum is currently closed for remodelling and the flag can currently be spotted at the Maritime Museum in Stockholm, which is hosting the exhibition “Who is a pirate?”.

The flag will return to Åland in 2011 when the museum reopens.

Real Jolly Roger Pirate Flag

One of a few known real pirate flags in the world. Source: Åland Maritime Museum

The origin of the term “Jolly Roger”

We turn to Wikipedia for an excellent explanation of the origins of the name:

Despite this tale, it is assumed by most that the name Jolly Roger comes from the French words jolie rouge, meaning “pretty red” and referring to a plain red flag which was flown to indicate that the ship would fight to the death, with no quarter given or expected. During the Elizabethan era “Roger” was a slang term for beggars and vagrants who “pretended scholarship.” “Sea Beggars” had been a popular name for Dutch privateers since the 16th century. Another theory states that “Jolly Roger” is an English corruption of “Ali Raja”, the name of a Tamil pirate. Yet another theory is that it was taken from a nickname for the devil, “Old Roger”. The “jolly” appellation may be derived from the apparent grin of a skull.

Quote from Wikipedia:

Tip: check out the world’s oldest champagne & beer found on on a shipwreck in the Baltic.