Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another New Heraldry Book

Well, no, not exactly.  It's a book, not about heraldry, but about heralds.  Specifically, The Herald in Late Medieval Europe.

With articles written by an international collection of authors, this volume "cover[s] a range of European regions and discuss[es] the diverse roles and experiences of heralds in the late Middle Ages."  And, in fact, a book like this is probably overdue.  I mean, there are lots of books about heraldry, but I can, I believe, count on the fingers of one had those which are about the heralds themselves, with a finger or two left over.  Well, one less finger left over now.

This book is available from Boydell & Brewer, and costs US$95.00 or £50.00. More information about the book, its authors, and links to order it, can be found at

Monday, January 25, 2010

There's No Such Thing As Bad Publicity

But good publicity is even better!

I was reading through the most recent Coat of Arms, the twice yearly journal of the Heraldry Society of England, entitled "Internet Heraldry" by Jack Carlson. In one section the author was noting some of the blogs about heraldry that can be found on the net, and said:
Other one-man heraldry blogs include David Appleton's Heraldry, [and three others]. The first of these is a valuable resource: Mr. Appleton dredges a range of mainstream news sources and posts all stories relevant to heraldry on his blog. Like [Martin Goldstraw's Cheshire Heraldry Web Journal], this one also includes many posts which have no rhyme or reason to when they are posted beyond what the blogger is reading or researching at the time; these posts (and blogs) are nevertheless valuable and are part of the territory.
Guilty as charged, Your Honor.  This blog does "include many posts which have no rhyme or reason to when they are posted beyond what [I am] reading or researching at the time."  Or stuff I happen to see, or run across, that I think might be of interest to you, my readers.  And I have been able to post at least twice a week, so there's regularly something new up here.

What tickles me the most, though, I think is that the author of the article finds this blog to be "a valuable resource."  That this blog would be able to serve as a resource for heralds and heraldists around the globe was one of my primary goals when I started posting.  And here, just over a year since beginning this blog, someone (besides me) thinks that this goal has been achieved.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Headin' South

(I trust that you will pardon the reference in the title to the old Jack Nicholson movie of the same name.)

Given the "quality" of the heraldic design of the coat of arms/logo of Laredo, Texas, I thought we'd cross at lease figuratively over the international bridge which is so prominent in those arms and see if the arms of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico are an improvement.

And, yes, in a way, they are.  They are still fairly pictorial, especially the third and fourth quarters, but overall, compared to the arms of their sister city on the north side of the Rio Grande (and, no, alas, most Americans - that is to say, Yankees - don't pronounce the "e" in Grande), they are an improvement.  Not so much an improvement that I would hold them up as standard to be strived for in heraldic design, but nonetheless an improvement.

North American heraldry can be so interesting at times, can't it?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Out in the South Texas Town of Laredo ...

... They’ve got a hodge-podge for their coat of arms;
The arms have a bridge and a Spanish cathedral
And seven flags to display all their charms.

Hmm, that scans almost as well as the original Marty Robbins song, "[Out in the West Texas Town of] El Paso".  But Laredo, Texas is not out in west Texas, it's down south.  In fact, if I left my house and got onto I-35 and headed due south and slightly west through Austin and San Antonio, in a little over six hours (according to Yahoo! Maps) I'd come to Laredo, down on the border with Mexico.  (For those of you not all that familiar with my home state, Texas really is very large.  My favorite example is that when you are driving west on I-10 leaving Louisiana and enter the state of Texas, there is a sign there that tells you how far it is to El Paso (in westernmost Texas) and Los Angeles (on the Pacific coast of the North American continent).  El Paso is halfway to Los Angeles.  But I digress.)

Laredo, like some other Texas towns, has what may be described as a coat of arms.  It contains, as you can see, on the dexter side (to the left as you look at it) the seven flags (unlike Texas itself, which can only claim six) that have flown over it at one time or another in its history: Spain, France, Mexico, the United States of America, the Republic of the Rio Grande, the Republic of Texas, and the Confederate States of America.  On the sinister side (to the right as you look at it), are a couple of local landmarks: the international bridge over the Rio Grande River* to Mexico, and San Agustin Cathedral.  It's hard to make out in this image, but I believe the date in base is 1755, the date of the city's founding.

In any case, it's a truly amazing "coat of arms"/logo.

* Yes, I know that saying "Rio Grande River" is like saying "big river river".  But so is saying "Mississippi River"; Mississippi means "big river", too.  Apparently, there are a lot of "big rivers" in this country.  ;-^)

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Haiti Earthquake, and an Heraldic Response

Clive Cheesman, Rouge Dragon Pursuivant at the College of Arms in London and editor of The Armorial of Haiti, has posted the following on the rec.heraldry newsgroup.  I'm passing it along here to those of you who might not otherwise see it, and to urge you, if you do not already have a copy of this book, to buy one.  (And if you do already have a copy, you know how great a book it is, and maybe you should buy another copy to give to a friend.)    You'd be doing your personal heraldic library a favor, and helping a nation in need at the same time.

In response to the calamitous earthquake that struck Haiti yesterday evening, the College of Arms has decided that all proceeds arising from future sales of The Armorial of Haiti: Symbols of Nobility in the Reign of Henry Christophe (ISBN 978-09506980-2-1) will be donated to the relief effort.

The book is an edition, with commentary, of an extraordinary heraldic manuscript created in Haiti in the second decade of the nineteenth century and now held in the College of Arms. It was published by the College in 2007 and is available on-line for 45 pounds sterling (plus despatch costs) at and through Production costs for the book have been met, and all sums received by the College over and above normal packing and postage costs will be held for the benefit of a recognised charity working towards the international relief effort, the charity to be selected on the basis of official advice.

I would urge those who have not yet acquired a copy of this book to consider doing so, and to mention it to others who may be interested either in New World heraldry, in Caribbean history or specifically in the politics and culture of Haiti. Doing so will raise money directly for the relief of the nation that produced this unusual and fascinating artefact.

If you have already purchased a copy of the book, or as an alternative to doing so now, please consider donating directly to the effort to the relief campaign through a charity of your choice.

Clive Cheesman
Rouge Dragon
College of Arms
Queen Victoria Street

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Another Website of Armorials

In an article in the latest edition of The Coat of Arms, the twice-a-year journal of the Heraldry Society of England, there's an article about William Jenyns' Ordinary that, among other things, gave a website where a text version of Jenyns' Ordinary can be found.  I've gone out to the website Medieval Armorials and found it to be a great resource for armorials and ordinaries which looks like it will continue to be added to, and so I thought I would pass along the link to you (as well as including it in the links list down the left-hand side of this blog page).  The URL is 

The website also has links to armorials, ordinaries, and heraldic authorities and societies around the world.  It appears to be a great heraldic resource, and I expect to be visiting it myself on a regular basis in the future.  (I've already added it to my internet browser's "Favorites".)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Speaking of Old Beer

In a thread on the American Heraldry Society forum about heraldry on beer bottles was this one, in which the company claims to be the oldest brewery in the world, established in 1040 A.D., some three and a half centuries before Spaten, the brewery in my last post.

Of course, the Weihenstephaner label is using the achievement of arms of the State of Bavaria for their logo, which they probably really shouldn’t be doing, as it implies that they are an official arm of the State. (Hmm, is the idea of a government-run brewery a good one or a bad one?)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Heraldry Is Where You Find It

We were attending a concert the other night (B.B. King, if you must know, and yes, it was excellent!), and I saw something that once again proved my growing belief that heraldry can be found just about everywhere and anywhere you look.

In this case, there was a display (and a couple of young ladies giving out samples and selling bottles) of a Bavarian beer. I particularly noticed the display because of the large banner (which had the paly-bendy azure and argent field of Bavaria over its entirety) with a coat of arms (the logo of the brewery, Spaten). Not being much of a beer drinker myself, I can’t tell you how good the beer is, but I did manage to acquire one of the coasters with the coat of arms/logo on it.

I later went out onto the internet to see what I could find out about the company. A brief overview of its history can be found here:

The most important dates in its history, at least insofar as their heraldry is concerned, are the ownership of the brewery from 1622-1704 by the Spatt family, who gave the brewery its present name (thus the canting arms, a pun on the name), 1807, the year Gabriel Sedlmayr (whose initials appear on the arms) acquired the brewery, and 1884, the year that graphic artist Otto Hupp designed the company logo. Many of you will recognize the name Otto Hupp for his impressive work in producing for many years the Kaffee HAG books of coats of arms and the 51 years of Münchener Kalenders where his heraldic style is so gloriously displayed.

So the next time you go to a concert, look around. You just might find some heraldry!

Monday, January 4, 2010

"And now for something completely different."

Well, okay, not really.

Bruce Patterson of the Canadian Heraldic Authority passed along a link to a clip on YouTube, in which Terry Jones (formerly of Monty Python) talks about the purpose of heraldry and visits David White, Somerset Herald, at the College of Arms. Somerset even has a design proposal for Mr. Jones.

The clip is taken from the 2004 BBC series Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives, which is well worth watching if you have an interest in the Middle Ages.

The clip can be found at:

Friday, January 1, 2010

And a Happy New Heraldry Book, err, Year!

The latest edition of the College of Arms Newsletter (No. 23, December 2009) announces the publication of the third volume of the projected four-volume work Dictionary of British Arms – Medieval Ordinary (the "new Papworth", as it has been dubbed, has already had the first two volumes published. This volume covers arms whose descriptions fall between cross and fess, and includes the period from the beginnings of heraldry in the twelfth century to 1530, when the Heralds' Visitations began. The book can be purchased in the U.S. from the distributor David Brown Book Company in Connecticut (it says pre-order on their website) for $190.00 (plus $5.00 shipping and handling.  At least, that's what it said when I ordered my copy last night) at  It's also available in the UK from Oxbow Books for £95.00.  (Oxbow Books also carries Volumes 1 and 2, at £48.00 and £60.00, respectively.)

If you already have the first two volumes, this third one is pretty much a "must buy" for you, despite the fairly hefty price tag.  For my part, it does mean that I'll have to rearrange my heraldry bookshelves again -- there's no room on the armorials and ordinaries shelf for Volume 3 (or for Volume 4, either, whenever that comes out).  Still, I guess I'll just have to struggle along somehow and figure it out.