Bobbookworm offers this meme to all y’all by way of advice:
I have only one take-away. Maybe obesity has an advantage.
Pirates (not the ones from Pittsburg)
They apparently all had trademarks, but since it was “British North America” then, they couldn’t be filed with the Office of Patents and Trademarks/Department of Commerce. Today they’d be embraced by corporations, which would infuse their charitable corporations with mountains of danegeld. But I digress.
(Flag – Edward Englands († 1720))
The Jolly Roger or “the pirate flag”, often also skull flag, is the black flag of pirate ships. It is also called Black Jack, in reference to the British Union Jack. The origin of the name Jolly Roger is unknown. Some believe it is a corruption of the Indian pirate Ali Rajah, whose name was pronounced by the British Olly Roger, but it may also derive from the French joli rouge (pretty red), as the first pirates hoisted a blood-red flag as a sign that they would all kill if the crew of the booty ship did not surrender immediately. It is said that Calico Jack Rackham
(Flag – Calico Jack Rackhams (* 1682; † 1720))
used a black flag with a skull for the first time (variant with crossed cutlasses), but this is not certain. The classic motif of the Jolly Roger, a skull with two crossed bones, was first used by the Breton pirate Emanuel Wynne around 1700.
(Flag – Emanuel Wynnes (late 17th century, early 18th century))
The flag of Henry Every, who sailed for the last time in 1696, is depicted with a skull in profile, bandana and earring, over crossed bones.
( Flag – Henry Every (* 1653; † 1696))
However, neither a skull in profile nor bandana or earring can be found elsewhere on flags or other heraldic symbols of the time. And although earrings, especially made of gold, were not uncommon among sailors (the wearer hoped that he would be paid a Christian funeral from the proceeds of the earring), it was not until the late 19th century that bandana and earring became popular details of artistic pirate depictions, starting with the illustrated stories Howard Pyles (1853-1911).
On “Blackbeard” Edward Thatch’s flag is a skeleton holding an hourglass and a spear in its hands, with a bleeding heart next to it. This means that the soul now belongs to death (skeleton). The hourglass is supposed to show the victims that their time has expired. The spear promises a quick end, the bleeding heart a particularly cruel/painful death.
(Flag – Blackbeards (* 1680; † 1718) )
The skull with the crossed bones and the hourglass were – taken from older Vanitas and Memento Mori representations – widely used motifs in cemeteries. A proof can be found in the graphic cycle “The four stages of cruelty” by William Hogarth, published in 1751: On the third picture the skull motive with the crossed bones is found, which decorates a grave.
In 1724 Jolly Roger was first mentioned in Captain Charles Johnson’s biographical collection A General History of the Pyrates.
(Flag – Bartholomew Roberts (* 1682; † 1722) his first flag)
(Roberts second flag)
The blood-red flag
There is an assumption that before the Jolly Roger a blood-red flag was used as a pirate symbol. This is supported by the fact that, until piracy arose in the 16th and 17th centuries, the red flag was considered a quarantine flag and had the meaning “Attention, we may have a disease on board that will kill anyone who approaches us”. And the pirates wanted to be deadly on approach. In addition, the quarantine flag received a swallowtail in almost every seafaring nation in the 17th century, according to the thesis, in order to rule out confusion with pirates. In any case, the British navy prohibited the flying of exclusively red flags in the Arabian Sea, ships with such flags were treated as pirates; therefore the flags of Bahrain and Qatar still have their jagged shape today. In 1694, the Admiralty had ordered British buccaneers (sailing under letters of marque) to fly the red flag. When the war against Spain ended in 1714, many of the then superfluous buccaneers went into business for themselves and hijacked British ships on their own account while retaining their red flag. According to other sources, the early pirates carried two flags, one of which they hoisted as needed: the red flag was the sign of not taking prisoners (i.e. killing them all) and the black flag of taking prisoners for ransom. Therefore, the red flag was even more feared than the normal black flag, so joli rouge was a euphemism.