Green’s Dictionary of Slang

banner n.

[SE banner, a flag]

1. the pubic hair [in this context the ‘flag’ displayed by the genitals].

[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy III 98: She turn’d to swim upon her Back / And so display’d her Banner.

2. (US tramp) a bedroll [one ‘unfurls’ it].

implied in carry the banner
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.

3. (US prison) a report citing a violation of prison regulations.

[US]G. Milburn ‘Convicts’ Jargon’ in AS VI:6 437: banner, n. A report given to a con by an officer, or guard, for violation of the prison rules.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

In phrases

carry the banner (v.) [pack v.1 (1)] (US)

1. (also pack the banner, carry the stick) to walk the streets as a tramp; thus banner-carrier n.

[US]Bangor (ME) Daily Whig and Courier 1 Apr. 4/3: One [tramp] applied for shelter at the Y.M.C.A. last night and stated that if he couldn’t get a bed he would ‘have to carry the banner all night.’.
[US]J. London People of the Abyss 101: ‘To carry the banner’ means to walk the streets all night; and I, with the figurative emblem hoisted, went out to see what I could see.
[US]O. Kildare My Old Bailiwick 19: They are a pitiful crew—the ‘banner-carriers’.
[US]J. London Road 149: I have made some tough camps in my time, ‘carried the banner’ in infernal metropolises, bedded in pools of water, slept in the snow under two blankets [...].
[US]S. Ford Torchy 1: Sure, I was carryin’ the banner. But say, I ain’t one of them kids that gets callouses on the hands doin’ it.
[US]H. Kemp ‘Carrying the Banner’ in Cry of Youth 2: [title of poem] Carrying the Banner [Which is tramp-argot for walking the street all night].
[US]N. Anderson Hobo 53: This practice of walking the streets all night, snatching a wink of sleep here and a little rest there, is termed, in the parlance of the road, ‘carrying the banner’.
[US]G. Milburn ‘Sweet Charity’ in Hobo’s Hornbook 229: Well, let him sleep, he needs it sure, / T’ree nights he’s packed the banner.
[US]J.L. Kuethe ‘Prison Parlance’ in AS IX: 1 26: carry the stick. To loaf or loiter because homeless.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 770: I’ve been carrying the banner all night, and I’m goddamn hungry.
[US] ‘Argot of the Sea’ in AS XV:4 Dec. 450/1: carrying the stick. Between ships a sailor ‘on the beach’ (ashore) frequently puts the bum on his former shipmates. If he does, he is carrying the stick or carrying the banner.
[US]F.H. Hubbard Railroad Avenue 336: Carrying the Banner – [...] wearing ostentatious Brotherhood emblems, frequently done by ’bos in working the main stem for a handout.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 44: carrying the banner Without the price of a room and walking the streets at night. [Ibid.] 44: carry the stick To walk the streets all night; to wander. [Ibid.] 170: pack the banner To walk the streets all night.
[US]F.O. Beck Hobohemia 23: And they ‘carried the banner,’ i.e. walked the streets all night, and there was a sleety drizzle too.
[US]S.E. Wallace Skid Row 43: The boxcars and hobo-jungles are only a step above ‘carrying the banner’ — not sleeping at all.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 84: He’d hit the stem and beg the price of a flop and something to eat. If he failed to bum enough to take care of both, he’d eat and carry the banner.
[UK](con. 1850s–60s) G. O’Neill My East End (2000) 34: Common lodging houses, bad as they were, were cheap and certainly preferable to the workhouse or to ‘carrying the banner’ all night.

2. to sleep rough, esp. of the thousands of homeless children who were forced to sleep in the New York streets.

[US]O. Kildare My Mamie Rose 49: It was the assembling and meeting place for all the members, those who had slept in ‘regular’ beds and those who had ‘carried the banner’ in the Frankfort street hall way.
[US]N. Anderson Hobo 48: He was able to ‘flop’ in a bed even though he came to town without money late in the afternoon; whereas many other men in the same position would have been forced to ‘carry the banner’.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.

3. to live as a tramp.

[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 3: You came in here carryin’ the banner and singin’ the blues.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 483: I’ve been carrying the banner all winter, an’ I’m hungry.
flag the banner (v.)

(UK Und./gay) of a male prostitute, to solicit.

[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 253: Flagging the banner. Soliciting by a male prostitute.
get oneself a banner (v.)

(US Und.) to move from the general prison population into protective solitary confinement.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 79/2: Get oneself a banner or a shingle. (P) See Get oneself locked up.