Rome High sophomore Wyatt Thornton has quietly become one of Rome’s leading vexillologists. A leading what? A vexillologist is someone who studies flags.

Some of Thornton’s large collection of flags is now on display in the showcase of the Rome Area History Museum through the month of November. Thornton’s collection is the inaugural show in what museum board vice president Janet Byington called a Young Collector series.

The museum just opened a Collector’s Corner in October to showcase special collections of historical interest to Romans. That exhibit now features a collection of musical albums through the years.

The 16-year-old Thornton has amassed quite a collection of flags in a relatively short period of time.

“I was in Dallas visiting a friend in 2017 and I just happened to stop by a local antique store and they had a flag of Texas. It hit me that was just something I wanted to do,” Thornton said.

His collection now numbers more than 100 flags.

Since he started, friends and family frequently bring Wyatt flags from states or other countries they visit.

“I got one from Turkey, so that was pretty cool,” Thornton said.

He said his collection is pretty hard to categorize — a mix of state and international flags. The teenager said he also goes online to order others, and he tries to learn about the origins of each flag.

“Each flag tells a story, something about the values of the country,” Thornton said.

Asked if there is a particular flag that he really wants, Thornton said he likes flags that were actually acquired in a state or country and especially those that have been flown at one time.

“Authentic old stuff. If it’s actually from the place that it represents, that makes it a lot more valuable than if I bought it over the internet,” Thornton said.

Janet Byington, vice president of the board at RAHM, said the museum will hold a reception for Thornton on Nov. 14 at 6 p.m.

“We want him to inspire other people to start collecting,” Byington said. “We’re excited to showcase young collectors and want to encourage more of them to do that.”

Other young collectors who would be willing to exhibit their collections can make an appointment to speak with museum leaders by calling 706-235-8051.

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