Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Bold Civic Banner, 1950

I recently came across this wire photo, which gives us a look at what Milwaukee's flag might have been.

The contest for a Milwaukee flag was won by this entry at the city hall Tuesday. It was designed by Alfred P. Dannenmann (not shown), 17, of 2859 N. 4th st. Shown are Carl P. Dietz, chairman of the city art commission, and Francesco Spicuzza, an artist and a member of the commission. The first prize was a $100 savings bond.
As discussed in a series of lengthy posts last year, the 1950 contest was one of many over the past century-plus to create a timeless flag for the Cream City. This is the first time I was aware of the name of the winning entry's designer. He was just seventeen years old at the time.

We previously saw this design in a Milwaukee Journal photo of some of the designs entered into the competition.

With this wire photo and a little Photoshop magic, we get a pretty good look at the design.

I find that I don't dislike the design. There's a real draftsman quality to it. Of course, it's way too wordy, which is a huge pitfall in vexillological design. Do "HOMES", "INDUSTRY", and "SHIPPING" really need to be labeled? That aside, the central image of gears and lightning bolt, stripped of the other elements, might have made for a fine municipal design. It seems very much of its time; very industrial-optimistic, very Reddy Kilowatt. And unfortunately, we can only imagine what Mr. Dannenmann's color scheme was. I'd like to think he chose a light blue for his background, as the eventual city banner featured.

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