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Customs and Excise Department [Hong Kong]

Last modified: 2014-03-30 by zoltán horváth
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Customs and Excise Department, to 1997

Department flag, until 1997
[Customs and Excise Department] by Martin Grieve and Miles Li

Badge Detail
[Customs and Excise Department] by Martin Grieve

Jaume Ollé sent me the scan to work from and informs me that "Service was created September 1909. Flag date adoption unknown. 1-7-1997 changed"

I shall start off with the badge detail, although really there is no need to 'bring out' an enlarged detail, as it occupies something like 8 or 9/tenths of the flag hoist dimension. I include it here only for posterity - and besides that I like badge details. Here goes - Crown and central badge are a faded pink colour in the scan, whilst the 'string of pearls' remain white - Again it is a variation of the standard British Crowns, but rather Edwardian I would propose. Who really knows if the crown had undergone an 'overhaul' following UK change in 1953 and for that matter no less thn 3 different badge details would have existed during this time span.
Martin Grieve, 16 August 2003


It is interesting to note that the Chinese ideograms for 'Customs' was read from left to right, instead of the traditional right to left. While individual Chinese ideogram is always written from left to right, whole line(s) of ideograms were traditionally read from right to left (whether in rows or columns). Today this rule still applies to columns. (Hence the joke 'Foreigner Looking at the Roll of Honour' - the last is mistaken to be the first!) For rows to be read from left to right - no doubt inspired by Western practices - began only in the 1950s in the PRC, and became universally accepted practice in the 1970s. So the Customs badge (and flag) probably dated from the 1970s.

On a side note, I think the guy who designed the badge definitely had done his homework. Not only he chose the flag colour green (the traditional Chinese customs colour), but the presence of Chinese ideograms, in itself unique among colonial badges, is very beautifully written in /xiao zhuan/, a font dated from the Qin dynasty (221-206 BC).
Miles Li, 17 August 2003


Customs and Excise Department, since 1997

Department flag, 1997-
[Customs and Excise Department] by Martin Grieve

Badge Detail
[Customs and Excise Department] by Martin Grieve

Green is the traditional colour of HK Customs, which is borrowed from the Imperial and Nationalist Chinese Customs. I have a reproduction of the badge in a magazine, which was poorly printed in a dark bluish-green colour... hence the confusion above. One might be surprised that the 'free port' of Hong Kong even has a customs. It does, its main roles being the taxing of imported alcohol and tobacco, and the prevention of contraband smuggling.
Miles Li, 8 August 2003