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Red Star Line Flag

Aug 03, 2017

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House flag of the Red Star Line

Presentation of the Red Star Line

The Red Star Line was formed in 1872 as the Société Anonyme de Navigation Belge-Américaine, the Belgian subsidiary of the American company International Navigation Co., ofPhiladelphia which itself was formed in 1871.
Known as the Red Star Line after the flag, the exact history of the former company is somewhat obscure. Basically the fleet was initially under the Belgian flag but subsequent it became under the sway of the International Mercantile Marine Co. in 1902 with ships under United Kingdom and USA flags as well.
According to Reid Carson in The Atlantic Ferry in the Twentieth Century the Belgian company disposed of its interests in 1902 but as some ships remained under the Belgian flag this is possibly not correct. The name may have been retained as a trading name only and is noted as finally ceasing operations in December 1934 with the remaining ships sold to Arnold Bernstein of Hamburg who operated them as Bernstein (Red Star) Line until 1939 when the ships and goodwill were taken over by Nederlandsche-Amerikaansche Stoomvaart Maatschappij N.V.

Although its flag was virtually identical - a white burgee with a red star - the Red Star Packet Line was completely unrelated to the Belgian Red Star Line.

House flag of Red Star Line

According to Brown's Flags & Funnels (1926), the house flag of Red Star Line is a white swallow-tailed flag with a red star in the middle.
Brown (1943) shows the flag under Red Star Line but domiciles it Hamburg suggesting that the flag continued to be used by Bernstein. There is some confusion over the correct shape of the flag with a few sources showing it as a tapered swallowtail.

The flag is shown on a postcard (postcard No. 11 in the series, 1st row, 2nd flag) with converging top and bottom edges.