Monday, February 8, 2016

Speaking of Heraldry on Cars

The CIA seal and arms that I spoke of in my post a week ago reminded me of a photograph I'd run across recently of the 1955 Lincoln Futura automobile.

While the car is the central object of the photograph, my eye, of course, was immediately drawn to the somewhat futuristic coat of arms on the wall behind it, presumably to be the logo for it and help to "brand" it.

Not the best-designed coat of arms, mind you, with the gold thingies in each of the white quarters, thus helping to demonstrate why you shouldn't place "metal upon metal" in heraldry.

From the few images I could find of the "arms" on-line, I think it would be blazoned as Quarterly argent and azure on a cross gules [fimbriated or] between in the argent quarters three bezants in pale, a cross pointed or.

For those of you who find the car's design to be somewhat familiar, it was a modified 1954 Futura which became well-known on 1960s television as the Batmobile!

Just the bat logo on the doors and wheel covers I'm afraid; no coat of arms here.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Heradry Workshop This Weekend

If you are going to be in the vicinity of New Westminster, British Columbia (a suburb of Vancouver) this weekend, you might sign up for and attend one of two heraldry workshops being hosted by local heraldic artist and graphic designer Allan Ailo.

(Hmm. Gray hair? Check. Glasses? Check. Gray beard? Semi-check. Handsome, dapper fellow? Check. Gosh, he reminds me a lot of me!)

I'd run across the announcement for these workshops in an article which asked a few heraldry-related trivia questions: Who trusted in God first, New Westminster or the United States of America? (Answer: New Westminster, in 1860.) How many animals on New Westminster's coat of arms? (The article says four. Well, it's really five (of three types): two lions, a bear, and two salmon.) (The image below is from the website of the Canadian Heraldic Authority.)

Anyway, it looks to be both informative and fun. If I were in the area, I'd make a (free) reservation for it in a heartbeat. But I'm not, so that leaves an extra slot open for you!

The full article and further information about these workshops can be found on the website of The New Westminster Record at

You should go; it looks like it'll be a lot of fun!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Agent Double-O-Who?

I was only behind him for a few seconds before the stop light turned green, so I didn't have enough time to pull out my cellphone and take a photograph, but the roundel with the coat of arms on it on his left rear bumper was definitely this design:

The car wasn't one of those favored by government agencies here in the U.S., so I'm assuming that the driver doesn't really work for the C.I.A., but is more likely a relative of a "spook" (someone who works for "The Agency"), or maybe just a fan.

Besides, if the driver really did work in intelligence, they probably wouldn't advertise it so openly, right?

Anyway, it was a fun bit of heraldry to run across on my daily commute to work, and I just had to share.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Heraldry of the Decadence, Part 4

Coming to the conclusion of our review of some of the alternate blazon schemes suggested at times by different heraldic authors, we present you with not one, not two, not three, but four different blazon schemes based on the Virtues.


Proposed by William Berry, An Introduction to Heraldry, 1810:

Or               Force
Argent         Hope
Gules           Charity
Azure           Justice
Sable           Prudence
Vert             Strength
Purpure        Temperance


Found in Eugene Zieber, Heraldry in America, 1895, attributes these to “Planché’s Clark”, but I do not find them in my copy of Clark (1882).

Or               Constancy
Argent         Innocence
Gules           Magnanimity
Azure           Loyalty
Sable           Prudence
Vert             Love loyal
Purpure        Temperance


In Pierre Derveaux, Blasons et Armories, 1987

Or               Prestige
Argent         Sagesse
Gules           Ardeur
Azure           Fidélité
Sable           Tristesse

I'm not at all sure why no virtues are given for green and purple in this scheme.


From Ferne, John, The Glory of Generositie (1586), cited in The Oxford Guide to Heraldry, Thomas Woodcock and John Martin Robinson, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1988, p. 54; Nisbet, Alexander, A System of Heraldry, Speculative and Practical, 1722 (repr. 1984), Vol. I

Or               Faith
Argent         Innocency
Gules           Magnanimity
Azure           Loyalty
Sable           Prudence
Vert             Love
Purpure        Temperance

Many of the virtues here match those of the ones proposed in the one Zieber ascribes to Planche's Clark above, but not all, hence its inclusion here separately.

And, again, these schemes can create some very odd-sounding blazons. For example, my own arms would be blazoned by Berry as: Hope two chevronels justice between three apples charity slipped and leaved strength.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Heraldry of the Decadence, Part 3

Continuing with our presentation of some of the various blazoning schemes which have been invented over the years, we continue with the following selection:


Or               Gold
Argent         Silver
Gules           Iron
Azure           Tin
Sable           Lead
Vert             Copper
Purpure        Quicksilver

I would note here that the Canadian Heraldic Authority has added Copper as a third metal in heraldry, along with Or and Argent. It is, however, a bright copper color, and not the tarnished copper green suggested in this blazon scheme.


Or               Light
Argent         Water
Gules           Fire
Azure           Air
Sable           Earth
Vert             Life
Purpure        Thunderbolt

Some of those at least make some sense to me. But I had no idea that "light," "life," and "thunderbolt" were considered to be elements on their own. Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, sure, but not these other three additions. (Which they had to have in order to be able to give an element for each of the seven standard heraldic tinctures.)


Or               Adolescence
Argent         Infancy
Gules           Manhood
Azure           Childhood
Sable           Decrepitude
Vert             Youth
Purpure        Old Age

Presumably from, or at least related to, Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" which he puts in the mouth of Jacques in his play As You Like It:

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;
And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

Not necessarily something I'd suggest basing blazon upon, but at least it has the advantage of having seven elements to match the seven standard heraldic tinctures.


Or               Blithe
Argent         Phlegmatic
Gules           Choleric
Azure           Sanguine
Sable           Melancholy
Vert             Bilious
Purpure        Serious

This scheme can give you some very strange-sounding blazons. For example, my wife's assumed arms would be: Phlegmatic semy of sexfoils serious. And France Modern would be: Sanguine three fleurs-de-lys blithe. Nope, don't care much for this blazon scheme.


Or               Heliotrope
Argent         Lily
Gules           Rose
Azure           Blue Bell
Sable           Scabiosa
Vert             The field
Purpure        Iris

At least this scheme has the advantage of (mostly) relating the colors of the flowers to the heraldic tinctures. Scabiosa comes in a dark burgundy color that I suppose can pass for black, but it also comes in a light blue color, which could be confusing for those more familiar with the flowers than with heraldic tinctures.

And, too, if you have a coat of arms with flowers on it, or a badge even, such as the Tudor rose, it could end up sounding really weird: A rose rose charged with another lily (or, On a rose rose a rose lily). And heaven help you if you've got a lily of any color but white.


Or               1, 3
Argent         2, 12
Gules           10
Azure           4, 9
Sable           5, 8
Vert             6, 11
Purpure        7

I'm afraid I don't understand this scheme at all. I mean, I know that late medieval writers ranked the heraldic tinctures in a hierarchy, but none of the hierarchies I can recall put them in this kind of order. So I'm at a bit of a loss to understand this one.

Next up: Virtues!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Another Interesting Digitized Armorial

I ran across another armorial which has been scanned and uploaded on-line the other day. This one struck me particularly because it is actually a little less about the heraldry and a little more about the individuals who bore them.

Each coat of arms comes with a full-length portrait of its bearer, as in the illustration of one page from the armorial here:

It's always interesting to me to see the different ways in which such books of arms are done, and this one is a particularly fine example of this.

If you happen to be interested in German mid-16th Century costuming (I'm not, myself, but still...), it's a great resource for that, as well.

It also contains, as many armorials from this time period do, a number of attributed arms, e.g., Alexander Magnus (Alexander the Great), Azure three bells or.

The armorial is Das Sächsische Stammbuch - Mscr.Dresd.R.3, dated 1546, which has been digitized and uploaded on the website of the SLUB Dresden. The page (translated into English) at which you can view, browse through, and download individual pages or the entire book, is at The link to the page in German is shorter:

I have also saved a link to it in the "Some Good On-Line Armorials and Ordinaries" section down the left-hand side of this blog, so it will always be here for you.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Heraldry of the Decadence, Part 2

Or maybe this could be subtitled, "Ministry of Silly Blazons" or some other such Monty Python-esque title.

Anyway, having done planets and gemstones as alternatives to the usual names of the tinctures in English blazon, we turn to some of the even more esoteric (and never used) blazon schemes.

In an attempt to keep some of these various blazon schemes organized, here are four which are thematically linked: blazon by Signs of the Zodiac; Seasons and Times of Day; Months; and Days.

Yes, these have all actually been promoted by one heraldic author or another as a way, I have to assume, to make heraldry even more esoteric and difficult to understand.

Signs of the Zodiac:

Or               Leo
Argent         Cancer
Gules           Aries and Scorpio
Azure           Taurus and Libra
Sable           Capricorn and Amphora
Vert             Gemini and Virgo
Purpure        Sagittarius and Pisces

(The only advantage I can see to this scheme is that by having more than one sign of the Zodiac to use for the name of a color, you reduce the potential of having to repeat that tincture without resorting to the often-confusing "of the first," "of the second," "of the last," etc.)

Seasons and Times of Day:

Or               Noon
Argent         Morning
Gules           Autumn
Azure           Summer
Sable           Winter and Night
Vert             Spring
Purpure        Evening


Or               July
Argent         June
Gules           March and October
Azure           April and September
Sable           December and January
Vert             May and August
Purpure        November and February

(Here, too, we have the opportunity to not repeat the name of a tincture in a blazon. On the other hand, we have to remember two different names for each such color rather than one.)


Or               Sunday
Argent         Monday
Gules           Tuesday
Azure           Thursday
Sable           Saturday
Vert             Friday
Purpure        Wednesday

(Okay, here I can see Sunday and Saturday as Or and Argent, if only because they match the planets blazon scheme of Sol and Luna (sun and moon). But what makes Thursday blue? Or Friday green? I'm at a loss here.)