A triangular banner with one short edge and two equal longer edges, a pennant gets its name from the Latin penna, meaning wing or feather. In history, it represented a knight's personal arms, identifying him beyond the larger group he fought in. Pennants reached great size in the British Navy starting during the Tudor era. Here are some places you'll commonly find pennants today:
Everyone has a pennant or two from their high school, college or similar sports team. Traditionally constructed using felt in the team's colors, pennants were used as commemorative pieces, imprinted with the team's mascot or symbol and name. Antique pennants have become desirable collectibles, with pennants featuring teams that have a long history and special events or victories being the most sought out.
Though they have the same appearance, pennants in recreational boating are called burgees. Showing membership in a particular boating club, all club members are expected to display their club's burgee whether under way or at at anchor, day and night, though not while racing. Sailboats display burgees on their main masthead or on a lanyard under the mast's starboard spreader. Powered boats have a short pole on the bow for burgees to be displayed.
All of us have seen pennants strung across a car lot at some point or another. Because they move in the wind, banners are a great way to draw the attention of prospective customers, with small pennants providing maximum attention-grabbing effect. Larger pennants can be flown beneath state and national flags on flagpoles to help draw attention to a business as well.
Several of our world's navies have used pennants in a variety of uses. The commissioning pennant is the top pennant on a warship; placed there when the ship is commissioned, it often remains there until the ship is decommissioned. When merchant ships were commandeered during the 1400's, the new commander would take his pennant from the field and raise it on the ship's main mast. During the Tudor era, commissioning pennants would reach as long as 60 yards. Decommissioning pennants often reflect the length of time the ship has been in service prior to decommission, with longer pennants representing longer service.
If you've got the perfect use for a pennant, we'd be happy to help design it for you! We've been serving the Boston area for over two decades, providing custom pennants, banners, flags and similar items. Contact us today for more information or to get a free quote.