Thursday, September 18, 2014

Norway, Part Two

Still at the Akershus Fortress, near a guard house at the main vehicle and pedestrian entrance, was a folding freestanding sign holder with this coat of arms at the top.

I just thought this was a really great heraldic representation of the function of this particular position, guarding the border (heraldic bordure) of the Fortress and the kingdom.

And from the rampart of the Akershus Fortress I saw this sign on a building near the waterside, with the word "Customs" in Norwegian and in English.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Okay, It's On! Norway, Part One

I've finally gotten some time to start going through the 2,300+ pictures I took during our two weeks in Norway and England in August.  Fortunately for all of us, not all of them are heraldry (for example, a bunch were from churches where various ancestors were christened, married, and/or buried.  Ask me about "Chasing Chiltons Tuesday" sometime!), and even then, many of heraldry are duplicates, because I've learned that not every picture taken with a digital camera is properly in focus, but if you take two or even three, the odds are that at least one will be ideal.  But that still leaves a whole lot of heraldry for me to share with you, so brace yourselves!

First stop, Oslo, Norway, where we attended the XXXI International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences.  The Congress was held at the Akershus Festning (Akershus Fortress) at the head of Oslofjord.  Being a still-active military facility, the arms of Norway were to be found in a number of places:

On a command building there.

On a sentry hut just outside of the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum.

Even on a military forces automobile in one of the parking lots.

Over the entrance to the Banner Hall, where most of the lectures took place, and Artillery Attic.

And this nice carved version in the Banner Hall itself.

As well as at the Old Military Academy.  (I suspect it was the Academy and not the arms which are dated to 1750!)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Article on U.S. Military Insignia

There was a recent (August 20, 2014) article entitled “Military customs, traditions inspire unit cohesion” published in The Redstone Rocket, a periodical “published in the interest of personnel at Redstone Arsenal, AL” [Alabama], that briefly discusses how the use of unit insignia in the U.S. military helps to build esprit de corps, as well as giving a few examples of such insignia (mind you, the examples shown in the article, and copied immediately below, are not especially heraldic) and unit mottos.  Mention is also made of The Institute of Heraldry, the closest thing the United States has to an heraldic authority.

Albeit brief, it’s a nice little article, and can be found on-line at the website of The Redstone Rocket at

Monday, September 8, 2014

Another Heraldic Website to Know

As part my on-going effort to keep you informed of websites of heraldic interest and on-line armorials and so on, I recently saw a short item (dated two years ago!  Well, I can’t keep up with everything!) about The National Archives of Finland updating its Europeana Heraldica database.  That article can be found at

The Europeana Heraldica database is a compilation of the municipal coats of arms of Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and other states – both historical and in official use currently.  It includes more than 2,200 civic coats of arms (cities, provinces, regions) and over 1,000 wax and paper seals. The oldest seal is from 1309 and the most recent from 2009, so there’s a good range of examples to look up.

All of the arms can be searched by keywords categorized in terms of heraldic concepts, including the division of the shield, the colors of the coat of arms, and so on.  For example, the keyword "lion" returns 40 coats of arms from four countries. Coats of arms can also be searched as a text search according to the name of the possessor.

The database can be searched in 13 languages, so no one has the excuse of being unable to read Finnish (or Italian, or Dutch, or Polish, or …).

Anyway, I thought it an interesting website, and wanted to share it with you.  The English-language entry page for the database can be found on-line at


Thursday, September 4, 2014

An Heraldic Mystery - Unsolved

Well, maybe solved, but only in part.

I was approached (electronically) a little while ago by reporter Emily Balser with a question she had about this bit of heraldry in New Kensington, Pennsylvania:

She'd seen an earlier post I'd done on this blog about another Art Deco-style depiction of the arms of the United States on a Post Office building in High Point, North Carolina ( and had some questions and wanted my thoughts about the one in New Kensington for an article she was writing for the Valley News Dispatch in western Pennsylvania.

She emailed me just before we left to attend the XXXI International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences in Oslo (heraldry pictures of the trip, which included a week in England following the Congress, will be forthcoming), and I haven't had the time to read her article or post about it until now.

Anyway, if you'd like to learn more about what little history is known about this work of heraldic art, or are interested in what several people - including me - had to say about it, Emily's article can be found on-line at

As my alter ego Da'ud Bob ibn Briggs, Historical Drive-In Movie Critic, would say, "Check it out!"

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Long-Anticipated Website Is Now On-Line

A long-awaited development in on-line heraldry has finally occurred.  The Committee on Heraldry of the New England Historic Genealogical Society has created an on-line presence.

The Committee's website discusses its history, has an index to its full Roll of Arms, and has links to: the NEHGS' pictures from the Gore Roll of Arms (you have to be a member to access these pictures); Harold Bowditch's survey of the Gore Roll; to the one-volume book recently published containing all ten parts of the Committee's Roll of Arms, with a forward by Chairman Henry L.P. Beckwith; and downloadable .pdfs of The Heraldic Journal, a short-lived journal on heraldry in America which was published for four years in the 1860s.  These downloadable copies come in two parts: Volumes 1 and 2, and Volumes 3 and 4.  (And for the record, I am no relation to Samuel Appleton, one of the editors of The Heraldic Journal.)

More information, and a bunch of other stuff, can be found on the website of the Committee on Heraldry at

This is a great development for those of us interested in heraldry in the United States, and I look forward to future additions to this website.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Good News for [at Least Some] Heraldry Book Lovers

Boydell & Brewer, the publishers of the first three volumes of the Dictionary of British Arms: Medieval Ordinary, the “new Papworth,” have announced the upcoming publication of Volume IV, Fetterlock – Wreaths.

The publication of this fourth volume finishes out a massive undertaking that resulted in the publication of the first volume way back in 1992, volumes II and III following in 1996 and 2009, respectively.

You can preorder this volume here in the States from the website of Boydell & Brewer (and get more information on this final volume of the four-volume set) at  The price listed there is US$165.  (Though the publication date listed there is August 1, 2014, that probably refers to the publication date in Britain.  It may take a little while for copies to make it over to this side of the Atlantic; my copy of Volume III had a similar publication date, but didn’t ship to me until late November or early December as I recall.)

If you live overseas, you might look at the UK website of Boydell,, where they are offering this volume for a prepublication price (until December 31) of £71.25 (plus £4.00 shipping to the UK, £7.50 shipping to Europe, or £13.50 shipping worldwide).  The flyer I picked up at the recent International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences says to use reference 14201 when ordering.

Boydell & Brewer will also be selling the four-volume set (at a 5% discount, I believe, but too late for me; I’ve bought each volume as it became available), if you don’t have any of them yet and want all four volumes.

I plan to be ordering my copy sometime next week.  You might think about when to order yours!