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!