Monday, November 30, 2009

An Unusual Interpretation of an Achievement of Arms

Based on an interpretation of his achievement of arms, is Prince Charles the Anti-Christ? There’s a website out there that would have you believe so.

The website Mouth of the Lion by Jason Guenther discusses, among a lot of other things, the depiction of the achievement of arms of Charles, Prince of Wales and Heir Apparent to the throne of the United Kingdom, and how that achievement can be used to demonstrate, well, just all sorts of bad stuff.

Mind you, I think he’s picking and choosing his evidence carefully, so that you notice what he wants you to notice, and he disregards other parts that don’t fit with his theories. For example, he points out the ten lions (on the arms of the United Kingdom and the Principality of Wales), but fails to include the rampant lion of Scotland, which would make eleven. (If we added in the lion supporter and the lion crest, we’d end up with 13!) He points out four crowns in the achievement, but fails to note a fifth one, ensigning the arms of the Duchy of Cornwall. (Oh, wait, here we go. He mentions the fifth one in the text. He must have forgotten to point it out in the illustration.)

Anyway, I thought it was an interesting misapplication, or misinterpretation, or at least misunderstanding, of heraldry today.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Heraldry

Fellow American Heraldry Society member Rev. Guy Sylvester has put up a couple of images of heraldry related to Thanksgiving on his blog, Shouts in the Piazza, at  He's got the early seal of Plymouth Colony there, and a rendition of the arms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who set the fixed date for Thanksgiving as national holiday.

In keeping with the theme, I thought I'd add a couple more coats relating to, if not theThanksgivinging holiday proper, at least with those hardy souls who survived the first winter in what has since become the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and celebrated a Thanksgiving feast sometime in the fall of 1621.

First is the arms of the city from which they sailed on the Mayflower and the Speedwell (alas, poor Speedwell.  Its name did not match its abilities), and for which they named their new colony in America: Plymouth, England.  Coincidentally, the arms of the city of Plymouth were recorded in 1620, the year the Mayflower sailed from there.  The lion supporters, though not officially granted until 1931 (as was the crest), were sometimes used earlier.

The other coat of arms is that of the city in which a number of the Separatists (those whom we now usually refer to as "Pilgrims") lived after leaving England but before making the decision to cross the Atlantic and begin a new colony in what was to have been northern Virginia (actually someplace near to what is now New York City).  So they left Leiden aboard the Speedwell, met up with others and the Mayflower in England, thus making, for many of them, Leiden as their first port of emigration.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Heraldry in the News!

Well, it looks a little like heraldry, anyway. The Twilight phenomenon, recently accelerated with the release of the second Twilight movie, New Moon, has also stirred interest in some of the lesser-known aspects of the stories, including the Cullen family “crest” (for an example of which, see the image below. A ring gives the same arms, but with a red background), and a jewelry designer in Portland which creates pieces for the two, soon to be three, movies.

There’s a nice article about Artisan’s Designs, a Portland firm which created the original jewelry pieces for the movies, and which also does upscale reproductions for fans, on the website of The Oregonian at

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just A Reminder

What with the holidays coming up and all, I thought I'd take a minute to remind you - or to tell you if you weren't already aware of it - that I have a commercial website, Appleton Studios, that sells new (including a couple of reprints of older books) and used heraldry books, heraldic screensavers, heraldic needlework charts, and even some PowerPoint programs that serve as self-paced heraldic educational programs.  You can find all of these, and some other stuff, by going to and clicking on "Heraldic Arts" and/or the apple in the shield, which will take you to a page of links for these items.  Or, if you'd rather go to the pages directly, new heraldry books and reprints of old heraldry books can be found at, used (and remaindered, like new) heraldry books can be found at, the PowerPoints and screensavers are at, and the needlework charts can be found at  (There are also some free 3"x3" heraldic needlework charts that you can print out or download at

If anything there interests you, you can order it directly by clicking on the appropriate Buy Now buttons and pay through PayPal, or print out an order form and go "old school" by ordering through the mail.  We do ship internationally -- postage is a bit higher for shipping outside the U.S., but that's something that's not within my control.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Heraldry? Well, sort of.

I was sitting down after a long hard day of talking to people about heraldry (well, okay, for those of you who know me well, it _wasn’t_ hard. I drove to Tyler, Texas and gave a presentation on heraldry and some Mayflower passengers who are believed to had the right to or used coats of arms. But I digress) and was kicking back and relaxing watching one of my favorite shows, the Discovery channel’s Mythbusters. Why is that show one of my favorites? Well, anytime you can mix myths (some urban, some not), science, and explosives, you just know it’s gotta be a good show.

Anyway, in this one segment they were attempting to recreate a 19th Century naval battle off the coast of South America, where one of the two ships ran out of cannon balls and substituted balls of cheese to shred the other ship’s sails (effectively immobilizing it). At one point during the set up for this attempt, they showed, _very_ briefly, a flag that had the word “Mythbusters” on it between two “coats of arms”. Now, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: sometimes, I really _love_ some of the things you can do with modern technology. Because I was able to go out on-line and find a clip of that episode, play it, pause it at the right place, and do a screen shot of that flag. And here it is.

For a blazon, the best I can do is: Quarterly, first, Argent, a cogwheel sable; second, Argent, the word “Mythbusters”[?] in bend sinister sable; third, Argent, a roundel [perhaps symbolizing the globe?] sable; and fourth, Argent, a crescent wrench bendwise sinister per bend sinister argent and sable, the argent portion fimbriated sable, and in bend a claw hammer sable.

So, it’s not “real” heraldry. And it’s not even particularly good faux heraldry. And yet, it’s another demonstration of the fact that coats of arms have become an integral part of our culture and are still finding uses even here in the 21st Century. And I find that fact to be very cool!

Oh, and idea of using cheese as a substitute for cannonballs? If it’s a hard enough cheese that isn’t “brittle”, that is, it retains a fair bit of elasticity, yup, it’ll go right through a canvas sail when shot from a cannon.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The First Coat of Arms

No, no, not the “first three coats of arms in the world” that you can sometimes find in Renaissance, especially in Renaissance German, armorials (for example, Virgil Solis’ Wappenbüchlein, published in 1555). No, I’m talking about what is generally accepted to be the very firest coat of arms, used in an hereditary way*, borne first by Geoffrey le Bel, Count of Anjou (1113-1151), and later by his grandson, William Longspee, Earl of Salisbury (ca. 1176-1226), here as shown on their tombs.

* Heraldry has been defined by A.R. Wagner as "The hereditary use of armorial devices centred on the shield." (If I'm remembering it correctly.)

Why is this of special interest to me, as an academic herald? Well, you know I’ve been posting for the past week about my new-found connection to Edward III, King of England. (Again, this is not an especially big deal; it’s estimated that 80% of people with British ancestry have the prolific Edward somewhere in their family tree.)

But it means that not only do I happen to enjoy activity in what I (in my own quiet, understated and pseudo-humble way) consider to be one of the greatest hobbies in the world (heraldry), but that I have a family connection to the very earliest days of the use of heraldry.

And I’d thought that no one in the family had ever used a coat of arms. That’ll teach me to make assumptions like that. It turns out that someone in the family, my 25th great grandfather, used the very first coat of arms!

Monday, November 9, 2009

There Was A(nother) Herald in the Family

As I noted in my last post, by golly, there appear to have been others in the family who used coats of arms. But in addition to that, my descent goes from Edward III through his son John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and John’s mistress and third wife, Katherine Roet (it was her second marriage), whose father was Sir Paon (or sometimes, Paonet) Roet (or Ruet), Guienne King of Arms.

It’s very difficult to find out very much “hard” information about Sir Paon; it’s a lot easier to find out information about his daughters: Katherine who was mistress and later wife to John of Gaunt; and Philippa, who married Geoffrey Chaucer. But most references to him note that he was Guienne/Guyenne King of Arms, which means that, by golly!, I’m not the first herald in the family.

So apparently, I come by my interest in heraldry honestly - I inherited it from my 19th great-grandfather, Sir Paon Roet.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Well, It's Almost Heraldry

There's a website that has a new way of looking at national flags.  The "Flags by Colours" page at drafts out the different national flags as piecharts, each one with the colors proportional to the area of the color on the respective flag.

It's really kind of a cool page to check out.  It's interesting to see the various proportions of colors in different flags.  And clicking on the pie chart will reveal the flag, in case you are going, as I found myself doing more than once, "What the ...?"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Heraldry in the News!

An article from the BBC News from November 4, 2009 is about a piece of heraldic stained glass work that has come to light in Edinburgh during the refurbishment of the Fraser Suites Hotel.  The arms are those of the University of Edinburgh, though the motto is apparently that of Sir Patrick Geddes, known for his work in urban planning along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

I must say, the window is a beautiful piece of work.

The full story can be found at the BBC website at:

Another Family Coat of Arms

I had posted last February (specifically, February 9, 2009, if you want to go look it up) about the fact that, despite my strong interest in heraldry, I’d been unable to find anyone in my family tree who had used a coat of arms. That post had noted that, by golly, maybe I’d finally found one.

Well, work on the old family tree continues apace (in my occasional “free time”, anyway), and I think I’ve found another one. Well, truthfully, several other ones. I still need to confirm for myself from other sources the information on a couple of generations which appear in “Europe: Royal and Noble Houses”, but assuming those check out (and I have no reason at this time to believe they won’t), then I have a family line going back to Edward III, King of England. (Here’s the reverse of his seal, showing him on horseback and bearing his arms on his shield, surcoat, and horse barding.) He’s my 19th great-grandfather, according to my computer’s genealogy program.)

Now, I’m really not trying to say that this is really great shakes. A genealogical article from a couple of years ago estimated that about 80% of people of British ancestry have Edward III somewhere in their family tree. (And over here we call George Washington is the “Father of his Country”!) No, the cool thing to me is, once again, finding someone else in the family tree who used a coat of arms. And in this case, there’s a whole bunch of relatives who used armory. Because, of course, once you’ve linked into a royal family (from any country), both their ancestors and their descendants (for at least a few generations, if they’re outside the “main line” of eldest son to eldest son) tend to be pretty well documented. So I’m happy to be able to add Quarterly France and England to the small, but finally growing, list of coats of arms used by members of my family.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yet Another Logo Rears Its Head

And this one has the audacity to use a standard heater shield. Why? According to the website of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, “The shield design is reminiscent of the tradition of many universities with rich and distinguished histories.” Gosh, if they wanted something in “the tradition of many universities with rich and distinguished histories,” why didn’t they just obtain a coat of arms, like those other universities do?

And how did they come up with this particular design? They hired a “branding firm” to create a new “logo family” for the school. The new “logo family” is the result of “six months of exploration, development, and refinement.” Alas, they don’t say how much they paid for that six months worth of “exploration, development, and refinement,” but I bet it was plenty. Sometimes I think I must be in the wrong business. Heck, I can develop logos with equal amounts of “meaning” and cool graphics, and probably crank ‘em out in a lot less than six months and at much less expense. Oh, yeah, those “logos” are really designs for coats of arms. Foolish me. Maybe I should call them “logos” and take up to six months to create them and charge a whole lot more than I currently do for research and/or design. Then I, too, could be a “branding firm” instead of just an “academic herald.” Hmm. Let me think about that. No.

To see all of the various members of this “logo family,” in three-color (green-blue-purple), one-color (blue), and black and white versions, you can go to the UNCSA’s Logo and Brand Identity page at: