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I thank you gentlemen for your scholarship & your kindness in replying.
I hope it doesn't sound too ungrateful but I might do an experiment. The Yanks (talking about the flavour of lollypops I hope) have a saying: "Suck it & see".
My Vallejo "Gloss Acrylic Varnish" really isn't that shiny & I think I'll brush it over a couple of flags.
I have spare copies of most of the flags I've used so if it doesn't work, it will be easy enough to change.
Just one other thought Donald.
If you are varnishing for visual effect then fine, whatever finish you are happy with will work for you.
However, if you are varnishing to protect the flag - because over time the inkjet ink may rub off in some areas and fade (as per real flags!) - then you might consider an alternative solution which I use. This is to spray the flag with a fixative - I use artist's pastels spray fixative. You can buy this from any good art shop, and it helps to fix the colour particles in place on the paper and gives a very thin protective coating, but still with a matt finish.
The flags I have seen from the Napoleonic wars to the Zulu wars, ie genuine article preserved behind glass are unsurprisingly very Matt and rather tatty, but I suspect they were almost Matt in the field unless brand spanking new. Paper flags do need bringing to life , they lack something , a word of caution paper flags ink can run, and I have had to replace some in the past , spray matt varnish was the villain in question.
When using paper flags I always used to run a black fine-line fibre tip along the edge to take away the whiteness of the cut, unpainted paper. Now I use one of the sepia coloured pens you can get. Still a fine-liner, but the colour is less jarring/obvious than the black.
As an observer of military standards, yes taffeta has a sheen but from a hundred yards away or even less that sheen is less obvious, pretty much not at all.
When I first joined the Sealed Knot - forty years ago - standards were generally made of anything people could get their hands on. It was also common to applique the designs onto them using other materials. Some of those early colours weighed a ton! In a strong wind it was all a standard bearer could do to hold them up and not take off. The move over to taffeta (or a man-made equivalent) meant that not only did colours fly in the proper manner in even just a slight breeze. Devices are painted on and the weight saved is immense. Once this was widely adopted throughout the society, flourishing the colours - standing out in front of the battle line and waving the colours in circular or figure eight motions to taunt the enemy and display the colours of the units involved - this became something that was much more do-able, you didn't have to be Conan the Barbarian to do it. (It's also why staves for stnndards are short, and with a counter weight on the bottom. So much easier to fling about)