Thursday, December 30, 2010

Looking Forward ....

So, having looked back to review a bit of what’s happened in this blog and to me in the year now past, it’s time to look forward to what’s coming up in the new year.

First off, of course, I intend to continue to meet my self-established goal of posting a minimum of twice per week. There will times, I expect, where I will exceed this goal, as I have in the past.

Included in the early posts for the new year will be some of the heraldry that we found while wandering the streets of Florence, Italy, last September. (Well, we figured we’d already spent the money for airfare to go from here to Europe to attend the Congress in Stuttgart; why not take a few days more and play tourist someplace special before coming home. It came down to a choice between Florence and Vienna. Sorry, Vienna! Maybe next time.)

Though probably not traveling quite so far from home as Europe in 2011, I already have several speaking engagements booked. All of them are more or less local (Texas is a pretty large place, so “local” may include a wider area than many think), and I get to talk about heraldry at all of them. (You can find a more complete listing of where I’m and what presentations I’ll be giving on my website at

And I hope to be able to make the time to work on a couple of new heraldic projects, as well as getting back to work on a couple of others, in the coming year. One new one is intended to be a short article of the changes in depiction of the crest of the Winslow arms over the years. The crest is a tree stump putting forth new branches, and it appears to me that the depiction has gone from an original intent of having the shield of the arms “hang” from the crest by its strap (or gige) to something that eventually became something that looks like a halo or a bicycle inner tube encircling the stump. Weird, huh?

The second new one is a bigger project, an illustrated booklet of the coats of arms along the gallery façade of the exterior of the Church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, along with as much information as I can glean about the armigers whose arms they are. (They don’t let you take photos inside the church, and their tourist booklets focus far more on the art in the church than the heraldry, but I could photograph the gallery that extends along two sides of the exterior, and it’s a pretty impressive collection of arms.)

Among the projects I want to get back to work on is the continuing search for coats of arms with camels on them, in preparation for an update to, or expanded second edition of, my book Camels In Heraldry. (Information on the current edition can be found at

So, that’s some of what I’m looking forward to heraldically in the coming year. I hope you’ve enjoyed your visits here, and I also hope that as you come back to this blog you will continue to find what I write about here to be interesting. Thank you for dropping by, and I look forward to your visits in the coming year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Looking Back ....

Well, here we are at the end of another year, and our thoughts naturally turn to looking back to see what’s been accomplished in the last twelve months.

In addition to keeping to my initial resolution for this blog when I first began it, that of posting at least twice a week, I feel good about having met that goal. And I hope that the one hundred and some odd posts this year have been at least occasionally interesting and informative to you.

The number of visitors to this blog has been increasing at a slow but steady pace, and I appreciate those of you who drop by and take an interest in what I’ve said here. It’s been interesting to me to see where the visitors come from: from every continent except Antarctica (so far); from large countries (e.g., Russia) and small islands (e.g., the Canary Islands). Thank you all for dropping by.

I’ve also had the chance to do a bit of traveling about this last year, and to talk about heraldry (well, okay, and sometimes genealogy) when I did so. From “An Introduction to Heraldry for Genealogists” locally here in Texas and farther away in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to “The Herald’s Visitations: An often overlooked genealogical resource” down in Houston (immediately following the worst winter storm I have seen since moving to Dallas), to “The Winslows: An American Family and Its Coat of Arms” at the XXIX International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences in Stuttgart, Germany. (You can find a more complete listing of where I’ve been and what presentations I’ve given on my website at It’s been a great opportunity to me to be able to go to all these places, to see some old friends, and to make some new ones. And, let me not forget, to see some new displays of heraldry everywhere I went, from British mortars at Yorktown to a three-dimensional achievement of arms in front of the New Castle at Stuttgart. (Not to mention the vast amount of heraldry which can be found in Florence, Italy, about which I will be posting some, but not nearly all, in the near future.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Heraldry at the Castle, Heidelberg

The castle overlooking the city of Heidelberg has a long and complex history. It has stood in ruins for a very long time, and the state is in the process of restoring parts of it and turning it into a tourist attraction. What’s great about that for the heraldry enthusiasts is that the place is chock full of coats of arms, from inlaid tables to fireplace mantels to stained glass windows to deeply carved and painted renditions on the ceilings.

Now, when I say deeply carved, I mean exactly that! The image above is only one of a number that I was able to photograph while we toured the castle.

It’s probably a bit too “foo-foo,” as my wife would say, for me to try installing at home, but it sure is impressive to see in a large room or a long hall. Indeed, it was almost humorous to watch all of the heralds among our group walk into a new room or hall and immediately look up and wander about never seeing our feet, attempting to be careful not to bump into each other, trying to take all the heraldry in!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Little More Heraldry in the Holy Spirit Church

The other special bit of heraldry in the Holy Spirit Church in Heidelberg that I’d like to share with you was affixed to one of the long walls inside the church.

These were a display of memorial stones that you often find in the floors of European churches. The ones here are generally pretty worn; on some the lettering and coats of arms are still kind of visible, while others are nearly featureless, with the remainder somewhere in between. (On one of the individual stones that I looked at, you could make out the lettering on the right (sinister) side, but that on the left (dexter) side was too worn to decipher.)

Still, there was a nice variety of arms depicted on the stones (on some of them, though, you could only see where a coat of arms should have been but which has been worn down until it is impossible to make out what it was), and I appreciate the fact that the church has tried to preserve them when they made renovations and restorations to the building instead of either tossing them out or cutting them up and “repurposing” them.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

(New) Herald in the News!

An article published today (Sunday, December 19) on at notes the promotion of our good friend, Elizabeth Roads, to the title and rank of Snawdoun Herald in the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh.  (The photo of Mrs. Roads below was taken at the International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences in St. Andrews, Scotland in 2006.)

A quick review of the listing of the officers of the Lyon Court at leads me to believe that Charles Burnett, Ross Herald, has retired, as he is no longer listed on that page. (I have since confirmed that this is the case.  He reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.) His retirement has created an opening for Mrs. Roads' promotion.  Her promotion now leaves an opening for a new pursuivant at the Lyon Court.  (And that opening almost makes me wish that I lived in Scotland.  I'd apply for it!)

Congratulations to Elizabeth Roads, Snawdoun Herald!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holy Spirit Church, Heidelberg

One of the other things that I was hoping to see in our day at Heidelberg is the Holy Spirit Church there. And, in fact, if you knew what you were looking for, you could find it very easily from the heights that the castle there sits on. Yeah, it’s that “little” building in the center in this photo.

I was looking for it, not because I knew that my great-grandfather had attended there, but because I had found a number of individuals of the same (very rare) surname, Lischett, who had attended there, and I pretty much figured that if their name was Lischett and they lived in or around Heidelberg, they also pretty much had to be a relative.

I was fortunate in that our tour group walked right past the church on our way to lunch. And I saw that it was open. So I ate my meal a little faster than everyone else, and hot-footed it back down the street to the Holy Spirit Church, where they not only let me inside but said (after I asked; I always ask first) that I could take photographs. So I did. For the next 45 minutes or so, until the rest of the group was ready to head down to the river for our boat ride up and down the Neckar River.

Have I mentioned before that you can find heraldry everywhere? I seem to recall mentioning it once or twice before. And it was equally true here. One of the coolest bits of heraldry was an old painted wall inside the church that had been uncovered during some restoration work.

It is, obviously, no longer complete, but it is also an old armorial of arms. I haven’t had the time yet to do it, but I hope to be able to sit down fairly soon with all of my photos of this wall (not all of it is in the photo above), stitch a few pictures together, blow them up to their fullest size, and see how many of these coats of arms I can identify. Unsurprisingly, the guidebook I bought about the church is aimed at the general tourist, and not those of us with an interest in heraldry, and so it doesn’t give as much detail about the arms as I might have wished, but there is a paragraph giving a little general information. They are the arms of the southern Odenwald knights, the Kraichgau, who called themselves the “Upper Donkey” Society, a 15th Century tournament society. (Another set in the northern Odenwald were the “Lower Donkey” Society.)

How cool is that? Wander off looking for relatives, and find a painted armorial of knights.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another Heraldic Mystery

Well, it's happened again!  I mean, I know I've said it before, and on a regular basis I run across something that proves it to me again.  "You can find heraldry everywhere!"  And it's true.

We were out Saturday visiting a favorite antiques mall just because we hadn't been there for a while.  And in wandering the aisles looking at what they had, I ran across -- wait for it -- more heraldry!

This time it was a large (20" x 20") poured concrete or ceramic plaque (either way, fairly heavy), with five coats of arms.  And a label that said "Swedish", which after a brief review of the arms and the names, not to mention the wording on the scroll beneath the central arms, I doubted.  (And, sure enough, after buying it, bringing it home, cleaning it up a little, and then doing a little bit of research on the web, it turns out to be Flemish; the towns represented are in the provinces of East Flanders and Antwerp.)

Anyway, in the center of the plaque are the arms of Segelsem (which should be Zegelsem, and whose arms have an eye in chief where the rounded upside-down triangle is on this depiction), and then around it in clockwise order beginning in chief, the towns of Lede, Zwijndrecht, Ninove, and Doel.  You can find these arms on the Heraldry of the World website, with the exception of Lede, for which no image appears.  (There is an image of the current Lede arms on Wikipedia, but the arms there - Azure three Tau crosses or - do not match the arms on the plaque.)

The scroll under the Zegelsem arms, Geen rijker kroon dan eigen schoon, which Babelfish roughly translates as "No richer crown than own clean," is a sentiment that (if I am understanding it correctly) I can certainly agree with.

The real mystery (to me) comes when we look at the two dates on the plaque: 1924 and 1949.  Clearly this plaque is memorializing something, but I have no idea what.  A fairly extensive search on the web has turned up no connections between the five towns and those dates.  Yet there must be some reason for these arms and those dates.  Someone appears to have put a lot of work into creating this plaque.  I'd love to know why.  (Ah, good, another research project to do in my "copious free time.")

In the meantime, I'm going to make a frame for it and hang it in my office where currently the large eagle on a cactus with a rattlesnake in its beak, bordered with the arms of the individual states of Mexico, currently hangs.  I'm not sure where I'll move Mexico to yet.  (So much heraldry; so few walls!)

We will now return you to our continuing posts about the heraldry we found on our European trip in September.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Day in Heidelberg

There were five different choices for day trips during the recent International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences held in Stuttgart, Germany, one of which was an excursion to Heidelberg. I, frankly, leapt at the chance to go on this trip, since my great-grandfather was born in Heidelberg and had emigrated from there to the United States in 1881 at the ripe old age of 14. So it was an opportunity to visit the “auld sod,” as my father would say, and at the very least see some of the things that would have been familiar to my great-grandfather during his youth there.

One part of the day trip was an excursion by boat up and down the Neckar River which the city flanks, giving the visitor (like me) a nice overview of the city itself, and a great view of the ruined castle that overlooks the town. (Not to mention the bridges, public buildings, churches, etc., etc., etc.)

On the front of the main cabin of the boat someone had painted a very nice rendition of the coat of arms of the city of Heidelberg. Indeed, I don’t recall seeing many paintings of heraldry that felt quite so vibrant. It’s a beautifully done piece of work, and the unknown artist is to be congratulated. In my not always so humble opinion, anyway.

Monday, December 6, 2010

More Heraldry in the Old Castle, Stuttgart

Many of you may already know of one of the books I have written, Camels In Heraldry. (If you don’t, and/or are interested in seeing more about this book, there is information about it at Of course, I did not believe even at the time that I finished it that the book was a complete listing of every coat of arms (or crest, or supporters) that contained a camel. And, naturally, I’ve found a few more coats with camels since then. (Indeed, I am slowly working on what will either be an update or a supplement to the original volume.)

And, in fact, wandering among the display cases of glass, both armorial and not, I ran across yet another coat of arms (and crest) with a camel!

The arms are given on the glass as those of Barbara Zeilnerin (the arms on the other side of the glass are those of her husband, Lorenzo Biller, and do not contain a camel), made in Hall, Tyrol 1560-1580.  The arms may be blazoned as Gules a camel statant argent crowned or, and the crest might be blazoned as Issuant from between a pair of buffalo horns gules, a legless demi-camel (or a camel's head, neck and back) argent crowned or.

I find the coat of arms particularly interesting because the arms to not seem to be canting; that is, they are not a pun on the surname. The majority of arms with camels that I have found are cants, where the surname is Camel, Cammell, Kamel (in German), Chameau (in French), and so on. But I cannot find such a pun on the name Zeilnerin. I may have to do some research to see if I can find out anything more about the coat of arms and why it contains a camel.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Heraldry in the Old Castle, Stuttgart

This entry and the next one come courtesy of the glass collection in the Württemberg State Museum located in the Old Castle (Altes Schloß), in Stuttgart, Germany. They’ve got a wonderful collection of glass, with some pieces dating back to the Roman empire. But, of course, those pieces contain no heraldry.

One of the things that I particularly enjoy looking at is the ways in which different artists will emblazon (draw) the same coat of arms. In one particularly nice example of this, in the glass collection at the Old Castle are two tall glasses displayed right next to each other, both with the double-headed eagle of the Holy Roman Empire, its wings emblazoned with the coats of arms of the various states of which it consisted, but each done by a different artist.

The most noticeable difference between the two depictions is the arms of Bavaria (Bayern), which in the glass on the left are the usual lozengy (or even fusilly) bendwise, while the one on the right is strictly lozengy. There are other differences between the depictions of the various arms between the two glasses, but mostly these are in the detailing. Still, it can be both entertaining and educational to compare how different artists draw the same coat of arms. And isn’t that part of the fun of heraldry?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Deep in the Heart of Texas

It's always nice when I can learn something new about the place where I live and work.  In this case, I was checking out recent postings on one of the heraldry blogs I visit regularly (you can find a listing of most of these under "Other Blogs of Heraldic Interest" on the left-hand side of this page), the Blog de Heráldica.  His post for November 28 ( discussed the coat of arms of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas.

What was very nice was that he also included a link to the Diocese's website, specifically, to a page there that discusses the rationale for the symbols the coat of arms contains.  That page can be found at:

I didn't know for certain that the Diocese here in Dallas had a coat of arms, though I certainly suspected that they would have one.  And it's really great to be able to not only see it, but to learn of the reasoning behind the charges on the shield.  (Too often we have no idea why a particular coat of arms bears this charge or that one.  And all those books and websites that purport to tell you the "meanings" of the colors and lines of division and charges are just so much hooey.  If I may be forgiven using a term other than the usual name for such stuff that is used in Texas.  I try to keep this a family-friendly blog, but the word I would use instead of hooey consists of two syllables, the first one beginning with a "b" and the second one beginning with a "s".)

Be that as it may, they say you should learn at least one new thing every day.  I've learned mine for today.  Can I go home now?

More Heraldry at the New Castle, Stuttgart

On the facade of the New Castle in Stuttgart is a remarkably complex coat of arms, carved in deep relief and surrounded by all sorts of statuary. It’s a beautiful piece of work, despite the high contrast of the repairs which have been done to it (presumably to repair damage done by bombs during WWII), which detract a little bit from it. (The building itself was completely gutted by bombing, as you can see in the picture here taken in 1956 shortly before restoration work began, but much of the facade - including the coat of arms over the central entrance and many of the statues - remained with less damage.)

On an inescutcheon which is ensigned with a royal crown is the arms of the Kingdom of Württemberg, Or three stags attires in pale sable impaled by Or three lions passant in pale sable, another depiction of which I discussed in my last post with the lion and stag supporters on the gate before the central courtyard of the New Castle.

For the main shield, I’m guessing that the first quarter is supposed to be a depiction of the arms of Bavaria and not a bend sinister fusilly (note the “extra” fusil part in sinister base, even though there are no such extras in dexter chief). The remainder of the shield contains a lot of different charges and symbols (a gonfanon, a bishop’s mitre, a pennant or flag, two fish haurient back to back, a ragged staff in bend/a bend raguly, the bust of a man wearing a cap, a crescent), and includes two quarters (dexter base and sinister base) which appear to be quartered themselves.

The medal hanging from below the shield bears a strong resemblance to be that of the Pour le Mérite, the "Blue Max."  It is a Maltese cross with eagles displayed between the arms of the cross; but the medal here has a roundel in the center, while the Blue Max has no such roundel but does have a crowned "F" (for Friedrich the Great) and the words "Pour le Mérite" on the arms of the cross.

I always stand in awe at both the amount of work and the quality of the work that goes into the carving of such a coat of arms. It is a beautifully rendered piece of work.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Some Great Heraldry in Stuttgart, Germany

In central Stuttgart, Germany, one of the most impressive buildings is the Neues Schloss, the New Castle, badly damaged during WWII but rebuilt and now the home of the ministries of the Baden-Württemberg state government (and the site of the opening ceremonies for this year’s International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences). More information about the building, along with a nice aerial photograph of it, can be found on-line at

Even more impressive, at least to me as an academic herald, flanking each side of the main gate in front of the Neues Schloss are representations of the arms of the old Kingdom of Württemberg (of which Stuttgart was the traditional capital) used until 1918 (Per pale, or three stags attires in pale sable, and or three lions passant in pale sable), with each shield matched with one of the two supporters of the arms - a lion sable (dexter) and a stag or (sinister). (The arms of the newer state of Baden-Württemberg have a gold field with the three black lions and with a stag and a griffin as supporters.)

It is one of the best displays of heraldry that I think I have ever seen.  I found myself trying to walk past it over and over again, just to see and enjoy it.

And the depictions are completely 3-D, “in the round.” Here’s a picture of the back side of the stag supporter, showing the decoration and arm straps on the back of the shield.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Heraldry on Our Trip to Europe

I always enjoy traveling to new places, because I just know that I’m going to find heraldry if I look for it. (And sometimes even if I don’t look for it!)

This past September we took a trip to Europe (where I knew there would be a lot of coats of arms and other armorial insignia to see and enjoy) to attend the XXIX International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences in Stuttgart, Germany, with a day trip to Heidelberg (where my great-grandfather was born), and then a five-day stay in Florence, Italy. Because, you know, if you’re going to spend the money to fly to Europe already anyway, you might as well also go ahead and stay a few days more and visit someplace you’ve wanted to see for years.

And while I’ve often said that “You can find heraldry everywhere,” I did not even suspect how soon in the trip we would see it. Did you know that Lufthansa names each of their planes after a city in Germany, and places a plaque with that city’s coat of arms in each plane? So here just for you are the first and last coats of arms I saw on our trip, from the aircraft Koblenz which we flew from Dallas to Frankfurt, and from the aircraft Wilhelmshaven, which we flew from Frankfurt to Dallas.

Really, you can find heraldry everywhere!  Even 30,000 feet (or however high up we were) in the air.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Spy With My Little (Camera's) Eye ...

My wife Jo has been posting on her blog, Appleton Studios: Travel Log and Art Notes, about our recent trip to Germany (to attend the 2010 International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences) and Italy (playing tourist in Florence for a few days).  For the most part, she's been concentrating on the people and the art that we've seen, leaving most of the heraldry to me.  And I'll get to it, really I will.  (Not all of it, by any means; theres way, way too much.  And I want to save at least some of it for a book I'd like to do next year, about the heraldry on the exterior of the Santa Maria Novella.  But some.)

However, in her post of November 10, 2010, at, you can see a picture of the "master" at work, taking yet another photograph of yet another coat of arms on the side of a building.  (Hmm, looks like I could stand to lose some more weight.  I thought sure I would have walked off all those Florentine pizzas I ate while we were there.  Must have been all that stopping and photographing that she speaks of in her post: "... it took forever to go one block."  And that was only one of many.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bucket Shop Heraldry for Your iPhone

I just knew it had to happen sooner or later.  That the bucket shop heralds out there (the ones willing to sell you "your family coat of arms" or even worse, "your family crest") would take the digital plunge.  There is now an "app" (I don't know why they can't call them "applications" or even "programs", but no, "apps" it is) for the iPhone (and, presumably, the iPad) entitled Irish Heraldry.

This app (now only $0.99!  Down from an original price of $2.99) contains over 1,200 Irish "Family Coat of Arms", in full color with an "Irish font", an alphabetical surname menu, hand drawn images, and, of course, a link to a website where you can have your "crest" printed on various products (presumably coffee cups, coasters, and the like) which you can also have personalized.

"This app is great for those with Irish surnames or interested in Heraldry and family history."  Or, of course, for those who already have a little knowledge about Irish heraldry, maybe it isn't so great.

Either way, you can learn more -- if you choose to do so -- on-line at:

Monday, November 15, 2010

More Metal Arms

Also on the large iron gate structure at the corner of the Chicago campus of Northwestern University, which I noted in my last post, flanking the seal of the school over the central part, are two more coats of arms.

One, the one to dexter of the seal, according to Papworth’s Ordinary of British Armorials is the arms of Kinloch, Azure a boar’s head erased between three mascles or. There is a crest issuing from a torse which ensigns the shield. It appears to be an eagle rising, which Fairbairn’s Crests assigns to Kinloch or Kinlock.

The other, the one on the sinister side of the seal, is a coat that may Barry of six or eight, or which might be [Field] four bars. Alas, there are two and a half pages of arms “barry of six” in Papworth (and an additional page and half of “barry of eight” up through “barry unnumbered”, and many pages of three or more bars, making identification of the coat of arms here, without an indication of its tinctures, more problematical.

There is a helm and crest atop the shield, but the photograph is not clear enough to be able to make out what the crest is.

Here, too, searches on-line turned up no additional information that might shed light on whose arms were displayed on these shields, or what relationship the individuals might have with the University. Yet for all the unanswered questions of whose arms these are and why they are there, they are yet another example demonstrating the fact that you can find heraldry anywhere! Or everywhere.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Heraldic, well, Mystery

During our short stay in Chicago, we drove by the Chicago campus of Northwestern University. The University itself does not use a coat of arms, but rather has adopted a seal as its logo. However, on the southeast corner of the downtown campus there is a large iron gate which has the University’s seal upon it, as well as three coats of arms.
The gate itself is really quite a piece of art. What struck me especially, though, is that I immediately thought I recognized one of the three coats of arms (the one in the far left panel in the photograph above), but not as one that belonged in the area.

Having photographed it and then played around with the contrast and brightness a little bit to better bring out some of the details, I realized that I was correct in my identification of this bit of heraldry.
Though hard to make out from where I took the photograph, the three books on the shield have the letters VE - RI - TAS on them, making this shield the arms of Harvard University. Harvard is, of course, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is a long way by any measure from Chicago, Illinois.

It was a most unexpected find, to say the least. I have not been able to find (at least in my searches on-line) any information about the gate itself, nor of the coats of arms upon it. So I have, at least at this point in time, no idea why the arms of Harvard are emblazoned in metal on a gate on the Chicago campus of Northwestern University.

But it does just go to show, I suppose, that when you are looking for heraldry, you just never know what you’re going to find!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Another “Arms-Like” Logo

It never ceases to surprise (and sometimes appall) me, the things that people will put on a heater shield shape and use as if it were a coat of arms-become-logo.
I caught this one as we were driving down one of the freeways in Chicago earlier this year. It’s on a shield shape, surmounted by a “crown” of some sort, encircled (well, half-encircled) by a wreath which is surmounted to base with the words “Chicago Taxi Cab Association”. The shield itself has the words “Royal 3 CCC” in chief and in base what I originally thought was a mounted knight with a lance but what I now know is a polo player with mallet. (See the “Official Sponsor” seal from the website of the Chicago Carriage Cab Company, attesting to their sponsorship of the SLS Jets Polo Team below. And a quick look at the Jets website shows the same shield, crown, half-wreath, and polo player, without the Royal 3 CCC that appears on the side of the cab.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Great Place for Heraldry, Part 3

Today we’re going to finish up our “tour” of the façade of the Klas Restaurant in Cicero, Illinois.

Tucked away into a recess on the ground floor was this little achievement of arms in what I believe is cast metal which has been painted (probably several times), consisting of a coat of arms (?, a bend ?), a coronet (of a baron, I believe), one of those helms that it would have been impossible to actually put over your head but which were so popular in the 18th and 19th Centuries, a crest (it’s hard to make out; it might be an axe of some sort, a head of some sort, or ostrich plumes) and mantling, and a couple of supporters (I’m thinking catamounts rampant guardant) floating just above what would normally be the motto scroll (though I don’t make out any lettering on it).

And finally, there are coats of arms in some of the stained glass windows at the restaurant. Of course, they’ve been installed so as to be seen to best advantage from the inside, and so identifying them from a photo of the outside taken while just passing by, but it’s plain that it is a coat of arms of some sort.

The next time I’m in Chicago, I’m going to have to stop in and see what other armory they have on display there. Oh, yeah, and have dinner, too!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Heraldry in the (Military) News!

There's an article today (November 1, 2010) over on the web pages of the U.S. Army entitled "the Institute of Heraldry celebrates 50th Anniversary" by Jacqueline M. Hames.  The Institute of Heraldry (TIOH) was founded fifty years ago (well, plus 1½ months as of today), on September 15, 1960.

There are a few photos from TIOH's history with the article, as well as some background on TIOH itself and several quotes about it from Charles Mungo, its Director.

The full article can be found on-line at:

A Great Place for Heraldry, Part 2

Continuing our visual tour of the façade of the Klas Restaurant in Cicero, below the windows flanked by the arms of the old Czechoslovakia were a row of shields of what I believe to be various towns in what is now the Czech Republic.  (Some that I have been able to find include: Tisnov and Zukovy, each bearing Azure a lion rampant queue-forchy or; Panensky Tynek, Argent an eagle displayed sable; and Markvartovice, Azure a bull passant or.)

I’ve cut out the space between the shields in the photograph here in order to save bandwidth, and it really gives you an idea of how well-done these coats of arms are. Done in a fair relief (not quite as deep as the lions highlighted in my last post, but not shallow by any means), the charges here, too, have a vitality not always seen in depictions of heraldry.

And, though perhaps not a coat of arms, there was also a carved panel with this design on a shield between some very nice double roses.

What a great thing to run across, just driving down the street!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Christmas Is Coming ..."

"... the herald's buying books."  (If I may be forgiven changing the words to the old song.)

I try to remind folks every once in a while that in addition to writing this blog, I also research, write, reproduce, and publish books on heraldry.  With less than two months to go before Christmas, I thought that now would be a good time to get people thinking about what they'd like to receive (or to give) as Christmas presents.  And if "a new heraldry book" might be on that list, may I suggest one of the following:

The Gore Roll: An Early American Roll of Arms. The Gore roll was, in fact, a colonial Boston roll of arms, the earliest known American roll of arms, which has been reviewed twice before: once in the mid-1800's by William Whitmore by way of a copy of the roll, and again in the 1930's by Harold Bowditch, who rediscovered the roll.  But Whitmore's review, though still widely available, has a lot of errors, and Bowditch's review, though more accurate, is hard to locate (it only appeared in the quarterly journal of the Rhode Island Historical Society).  And neither previous review gave more than a drawing of one of the 99 coats of arms contained in the roll.  This volume, however, contains the full text of Whitmore's review, the full text of Bowditch's review, the results of additional research by the author, an armorial of the roll, an ordinary of the roll, other contemporary images of some of the arms contained in the roll, as well as accurate line-drawing reproductions of all of the arms contained in it.  It is, if I may say so, the most complete and accurate review of the Gore roll ever made.

The Boke of St. Albans.  Written (at least in part) by Dame Juliana Berners, the Boke of St. Albans was originally published in 1486. Consisting of three parts, it contains the first treatise on heraldry published in English. (Prior works on the subject were generally published in Latin.) It was thought so important a work that the heraldry portions were reprinted in James Dallaway's Inquiries into the Origin and Progress of the Science of Heraldry in England, published in 1793. It was the text of this reprint which I have used for this modern English rendition, in the hopes of making this seminal work more widely available to the modern reader with an interest in heraldry. We have also created new illustrations of the arms described in the Boke, which were not included in the reprint in Dallaway. The arrangement used in this modern rendition is a two-column one, with the text from Dallaway appearing in the left-hand column, and the modern English version in the right-hand one, so that the reader may compare the texts.

Camels In Heraldry.  Whether found as charge on the shield, as a crest, as a badge, or as a supporter, camels have been used in heraldry a lot more than I had believed when I first set out to research the subject.  This specialized volume contains a brief natural history of camels, their use as a symbol, and their use in heraldry. It also contains an armorial of arms, badges, crests, and supporters which use camels, as well as color and black & white pictures of many of those arms, crests, and badges.

Virgil Solis' Wappenbüchlein, or Heraldry Booklet, was originally printed in Nuremberg in 1555. Virgil Solis, a contemporary of Albrecht Dürer, was an engraver of some skill, as this facsimile reproduction of his work clearly demonstrates. The booklet, reprinted in facsimile, is in the form of a roll of arms and includes, among others, the arms of the Papacy and many of the princes of the Church, most of the kingdoms of Europe, and a number of fictional attributed arms of kingdoms in Africa and Asia, as well as the "first three coats of arms in the world" and the arms of the Three Wise Men.

The Grund-Saeze der Wappenkunst, or Basic Principles of Heraldic Art, is a German manual of heraldry by noted heraldic author Otto Titan von Hefner, published here in a facsimile edition. It is a brief overview (in German) of the development of heraldry going well back into the Middle Ages, describing many of the charges used, along with fourteen plates of illustrations.

Additional information about these books, and others (including a link to our selection of gently used and remaindered heraldry books), with links to .pdfs of sample pages from each of them, can be found at:

Interested in one (or more)? Ordering is easy: You can order on-line and pay with a credit card or checking account through PayPal, or print out an order form, fill it in, and mail it with your check or money order.

And, yes, we ship internationally!

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog posts.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Great Place for Heraldry, Part 1

During our short stay in Chicago earlier this year, as our long-suffering hosts were ferrying us all about the city, we passed a really great spot for heraldry. So great, in fact, that it’s probably going to take three posts just to cover what I was able to photograph on the exterior as we passed it.

The building is that of the Klas Restaurant, located at 5734 W. Cermak Road in the Chicago suburb of Cicero, Illinois. The restaurant was founded nearly 90 years ago, features Bohemian cuisine, and has played host to such notables as Alfonso “Scarface Al” Capone. You can see the restaurant’s menu and learn more about it from their website at:

But the most notable feature to me was not only the number of coats of arms scattered across the façade of the building, but the variety of media used for them.

Most prominent, and appearing in some very high relief carvings on either end of a row of windows, are the arms of what was then Czechoslovakia.* The depiction of the lion in each of the shields has a vitality that is fairly rare but which is a pleasure to see.

* These are not the current arms of the Czech Republic (for which see below), but rather the old Gules a lion rampant queue-forchy argent crowned or.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It’s Still Not Heraldry, But …

… it’s a lot closer. The two shields below are on the face of one of the buildings of the Chicago campus of Northwestern University. Like the streetside banners of the town of Westchester, these are not really heraldry either. But they certainly come a lot closer than Westchester did.
Indeed, one can see a similarity to the factory in the shield of “Industry” and the castles and towers that appear on many coats of arms (e.g., the castle in the arms of Castile, or the college in the arms of the College of William & Mary, for which see my post of July 29, 2010).
And the ship on the shield of “Commerce” is not all that different (except for being more three-dimensional) from the galleons and drakkars found in many Scottish coats of arms.

So they may not be real coats of arms, but they’re at least close approximations.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Daniel de Bruin, well-known heraldic artist, whose work - especially his bookplates - was truly unique, has passed away.  He was only 60.

I had the chance to meet Daniel at the International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences in Bruges, Belgium in 2004.  He was an enthusiastic artist whose work reflected his motto: Dare to be different.  I shall miss him.

More information about Daniel, along with a link to some tributes, can be found at his website, The Ermine, at

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Heraldic-Like Logo

It shouldn’t, I suppose – I mean, I’ve lived in the United States all my life, and I’ve seen it happen over and over (and over, and over, and over) again – but it continues to surprise me that people and institutions create logos for themselves to help establish their “brand” that appropriate, or misappropriate, many of the elements of heraldry, of a coat of arms and sometimes even a crest, but which end up looking nothing like heraldry.

A case in point is the city of Westchester, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, where we stayed for a couple of days this past summer while we were there to give a presentation to the Illinois St. Andrew Society. (They are a truly wonderful group of people, and if you are ever in the Chicago area I urge you to see what activities they might be having while you’re there.)

As you can see, Westchester has adopted (and placed on banners along a number of major streets through the city) a logo which appropriates elements of an achievement of arms – a shield, a helmet, and even a motto scroll – but put them together in a way that cannot be considered to be heraldry except in the very broadest sense of the term. The helm issues from the motto scroll (instead of sitting atop the shield, or even being a charge upon the shield), which itself is placed across the center of the shield.

I’m not at all sure what the design of the shield underlying the helm and scroll (and date of founding) is supposed to be. It looks a little like Per chevron checky argent and vert, and argent, but the green line around the whole thing is plain on the bottom portion of the shield and embattled on the inner edge of the upper portion (I know it's hard to see against the checky field(, the whole surrounded with a bordure per bordure argent and azure, overall a mount issuant from base azure.

It’s a shame, really. With just a little bit of tweaking, it could be turned into something like real coat of arms. As it stands, it’s just a mish-mash of heraldic elements thrown together to create a design that is kind of heraldic, but which isn’t heraldry.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"These Are Just Two ...

... of my favorite things."  (With aplogies to The Sound of Music.)

It's always fun when I can combine, or even see someone else combine, two of my favorite things.  In this specific instance, heraldry and ... chocolate.

The Chocolate Priestess, over on her blog The Chocolate Cult, had a recent (October 10) post ( discussing the celebration of Fiji Day, when the Fijians celebrate their independence from Great Britain.  And what does that have to do with heraldry, you ask?  As well you should.

Fiji's coat of arms has an English lion (albeit crowned here) on the chief, but in this case it's holding a cocoa pod, one of the main exports of the Fiji Islands.

I love heraldry, and I love chocolate, and I especially love it when those two separate loves overlap!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Leaving Virginia

So there we were, making our way across the airport parking lot after having dropped off our rental car, intent only on getting into the terminal, checking our bags, and getting to our gate on time for our flight home. And what, do you think do we see while we are on our way? That’s right. Another coat of arms!
This time it was the arms of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, bold as brass (well, okay, aluminum) on the license plate of an auto in the parking lot at the airport. (According to VPI’s website, this is their “traditional seal.” Their “logo” consists of a shield and the words “Virginia Tech” in a specific typeface.) The shield on the seal is, like so many American arms designed by committee,* quartered, but each quarter is of the same tincture. The charges on the shield, all in white, are, as best I can make them out: First: the central figure from the seal of the State of Virginia, Virtus, the Roman goddess of virtue, standing over a defeated opponent (or as I usually think of it, standing atop some dead guy); Second: a scroll bendwise surmounted by a staff bendwise sinister being held by a (disembodied) sinister hand aversant couped in chief, overall a tripod ensigned with what appears to be a footed flat bowl; Third: a retort atop a square brazier containing a fire, distilling to sinister into a tall glass of some kind; and Fourth: An ear of corn (maize), shucked open. The crest above the shield is: A lamp of knowledge with a dexter hand (also disembodied) couped reaching for the lamp lid’s finial. Below the shield is their motto: Ut prosim (That I may be of use). All within, of course, the circular legend that gives the institution’s full name, in case you couldn’t identify it from the coat of arms, crest, and motto .

Anyway, we had a great time in Virginia, and I look forward to the next time we have the opportunity to go there. Given all of the pictures of heraldry that I took, it’s hard to believe that we were there for only a week. I’ve said it before, and I will (no doubt) say it again: You can find heraldry everywhere!

* Or as I sometimes think of it, the “kitchen sink” school of heraldic design, since they seem to throw in just about everything, including the kitchen sink!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Flags in the News!

It's a terrible thing, when you find out something about the place you live that just makes you embarrassed.  Here I am, living in "The Great State of Texas" (and yes, that is a single phrase down here, and sometimes treated like it's a single word, something akin to the single word "damnyankee," of which I am one), and it seems that some public officials have made an error.  That in itself wouldn't be all that bad, perhaps, but it's an error that has continued over a number of years.  Hence my embarrassment.

It seems that ballots for absentee voters in Atacosa County, Texas, have a depiction of the state flag of Texas on them.

Except that they don't.  What they have is a depiction of the national flag of Chile.  Here's the Texas flag.

Now, admittedly, the two flags are very similar.  In heraldic terms, I suppose it would be the difference between a canton charged with a white star and a dexter tierce charged with a white star.  But still, I generally expect better from the public officials here, especially since you can't drive anywhere in the state without seeing the state flag flying here, there, and everywhere.

So, as I said, it makes me embarrassed.

A more complete version of this story can be found on-line at:

Hollywood Cemetery, Part 9

For our last stop in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, we have the grave of Fitzhugh Lee (1835–1905). “Fitz” Lee, the grandson of Richard Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee of Revolutionary War fame and a nephew of General Robert E. Lee, was a Confederate cavalry general in the Civil War, the 40th Governor of Virginia, diplomat, and United States Army general in the Spanish-American War. He is shown here as he appeared during the Civil War, and again later as governor of Virginia.

No less a figure than J.E.B. Stuart, Robert E. Lee’s cavalry commander (who is also buried next to his wife, in Hollywood Cemetery), said shortly after the Gettysburg campaign that Lee was "one of the finest cavalry leaders on the continent, and richly [entitled] to promotion." Lee was promoted to major general in the Confederate army on August 3, 1863.

Fitzhugh Lee is buried under an obelisk bearing the coat of arms of the Lee family of Virginia, which arms are known to have also been used by his uncle and (at least the pronomial coat in the first and fourth quarters) by his grandfather.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hollywood Cemetery, Part 8

Our next bit of heraldry comes from a memorial placed in the cemetery by the John Marshall High School Corps of Cadets as a memorial to their members who have given their lives in the service of their country.

The John Marshall High School was founded in 1909; the Corps of Cadets in 1915.

The arms used as the badge of the JMHS Corps of Cadets may be blazoned: Azure, a pale argent, overall an arm erect aversant gules maintaining in its fist a hanging balance or, though the pale does not appear on the plaque in the cemetery. It does, however, appear on the shoulder badge of the Corps of Cadets, below. The crest is A bald eagle displayed proper.

The Corps has a webpage at on which can be found a few photographs from its history. There is also a webpage for John Marshall Corps of Cadets Alumni at, which has more information on the Corps’ history, and one page of which, “Memorials,” has a black and white photograph of the full plaque in Hollywood Cemetery.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hollywood Cemetery, Part 7

This next bit of heraldry is not technically “in” Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. It was in the rear windshield of a car which was in the parking lot there.
The arms are those of the University of Richmond, Checky argent and gules. Officially, the University’s logo, as they call the shield, also contains “On a chief argent, the words ‘University of’ and ‘Richmond’ azure.”

The University is located six miles from downtown Richmond. It is a liberal arts university which was founded in 1830. Its website, on which its arms appear to have been used sparingly, usually just one small image on each webpage (except in its Trademarks and Logos Style Guide), can be found at

Still, it’s a distinctive, clear, and easily identifiable coat of arms, err, pardon me, “logo.” But isn’t that much of the purpose of heraldry? To be distinctive, clear, and easily identifiable?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Heraldry in the News!

Another heraldic "mystery" has appeared similar in some ways to the one I noted in two posts on July 8 (regarding the code in the new logo/coat of arms of the United States Cyber Command).  This time, however, the "code" isn't one, and there's no hidden meaning behind the string of binary code (ones and zeros) on the arms of Canada's new Governor General.  At least so says both Rideau Hall (the Governor General's office) and the Canadian Heraldic Authority (which designed the arms), though that hasn't stopped folks from speculating that there is a hidden meaning here.

Still and all, it's kind of nice to have something like this stir up the internet a bit and get people looking at and talking about heraldry.

You can find the story on the website of The Globe and Mail at

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hollywood Cemetery, Part 6

Our next bit of heraldry comes from a flag holder at the grave of a member of the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists and displaying the seal of the Society. The seal of the Society consists of a shield bearing an oak tree in full foliage; the border of the shield bears the name “National Society Daughters of the American Colonists.” Surrounding the shield is an open wreath of acorns and oak leaves, ovoid rather than circular, taller than it is wide.

The Society is headquartered in Washington, DC. Its stated goals are: “The object of this Society shall be Patriotic, Historical and Educational; to make research as to the history and deeds of the American colonist and to record and publish the same; to commemorate deeds of colonial interest; to inculcate and foster love of America and its institutions by all its residents; to obey its laws and venerate its flag—the emblem of its power and civic righteousness.”

More information about the NSDAC can be found on their website at:

And here’s a color version (in "Colonial Blue" and "Yellow") of their seal from the NSDAC website.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

O. M. G.!

I ran across a brief note about this little site ( of someone who does original "family crests".  The fact that the URL is at "" should give you an inkling of the kind of "New Age" work the artist does.  But it was the blurb under the heading "Family Crests" (well, okay, along with the examples of his work) that really did it for me:

Through spontaneous revelation Ahonu paints your family crest without a history of distortion, struggle, sacrifice or battle. He tunes into the original soul essence of your family name BEFORE there was any damage or distortion. For those that have had the privilege of having their new Family Crest re-created by Ahonu, there have been immediate shifts in outer circumstances:- Prosperity increased, old rivalries and patterns cleared, and feelings of joy and personal power were immediate. Order yours ... now.
Umm, no.  Here, let me think about that some more.

Nope.  Still no.

But don't let my bad attitude stop you from dropping by his website and checking out his work.  Just be prepared -- it doesn't look like heraldry, with or without "distortion, struggle, sacrifice or battle."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hollywood Cemetery, Part 5

For our next heraldic memorial, we have a "two-fer," the graves of a father and son, both bearing the same coat of arms:  George Cole Scott of Ballyshannon (1875-1932) and George Cole Scott, Jr. (1909-1962).

George Cole Scott, Sr. was a delegate from Virginia to Republican National Convention in 1932.  The arms from his grave are on the left; those of his son, George Cole Scott, Jr. are on the right.  There is a clear difference in the quality of the materials used for each monument, as the older arms (for the elder Scott) are in far better shape than the arms for his son.

The arms may be blazoned as: Or, on a bend azure a mullet of six points between two crescents argent.  The crest is: A stag trippant, and the motto is: Amo (I love).

Burke's General Armory gives the following:

Or on a bend az. an estoile betw. two crescents arg. Scott, Ireland. The patriarchal coat of Scot or Scott. Scott, Baron Earlsfort 10 May 1784, Viscount Clonmel 18 August 1789, Earl of Clonmel 20 December 1793.

and also

Or on a bend az. an estoile (or mullet) betw. two crescents of the first. Scot, Buccleuch, as borne on an inescucheon by James Crofts afterwards Scot, Duke of Monmouth after 22 April 1667, as Duke of Buccleuch, Earl of Dalkeith, Baron Whitchester and Ashdale 20 April 1673, Z, 639 ; and after his attainder, 1685, by his son James Scot (Earl of Doncaster afterwards) Earl of Dalkeith, Z, 644; and by his son Francis Scot, Baron Tyndale and Earl of Doncaster 23 March 1743, Duke of Buccleuch 1732 ; and by his uncle Henry Scot, Baron Goldylinds, Viscount Hermitage, and Earl of Delorain29 March 1706, extinct 1807; Z,644.

Fairbairn's Crests says the motto “Amo” (I love) belongs to “Douglas, Hoops, Montagu-Scott, Scott, and Scote.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hollywood Cemetery, Part 4

The next stop in our tour of Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, is the grave of James Branch Cabell (1879-1958).
One of the earliest writers of fantasy, or speculative, fiction, Cabell (pronounced CAB-bell) attacked American orthodoxies and institutions in his best-known novel, Jurgen (1919), a story full of sexual symbolism. His other works, some fifty in all, and many of which are allegories set in an imaginary medieval province, include The Cream of the Jest (1917) and The High Place (1923). Though much praised in the 1920s, his mannered style and skeptical view of human experience fell out of favor with the reading public, and he is hardly known today.  (Except, of course, for the wayward herald trying to identify the coat of arms on his grave!)

His arms may be blazoned: Sable, a horse rampant argent bridled or.  The crest is: A horse as in the arms, and the motto is: Impavide (roughly, Undauntedly). Impavide is also the motto of the 90th Missile Wing, a unit of the United States Air Force Global Strike Command, 20th Air Force, stationed at Warren Air Force Base just west of Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Burke's General Armory gives: Cabbell or Cabell: Vert fretty argent, overall a fess gules. Crest: An arm in armor embowed the hand grasping a sword, all proper. Another crest: A square padlock or. Motto: Impavide.  Except for the motto, none of this matches "our" Cabell here.

Crozier's General Armory, however, cites: Capt. William Cabell, Virginia, 1700. Quarterly, first and fourth, Sable a horse rampant argent bridled or; second and third, Azure ten estoiles or, four, three, two and one. Crests: (1) An arm in armor embowed the hand grasping a sword, all proper. (2) A crescent argent surmounted by an estoile or. Apparently no relation to this Cabell, or at the very best but a distant one.

Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials, however, notes Cabell, Buckfastleigh, county Devon: Sable a horse upright argent bridled or, a good match to the arms on the grave here.