Thursday, February 25, 2010

Another Video Link

I swear, I continue to be amazed at what you can sometimes find on the internet.

Now, you have to remember that my first introduction to a computer was back when I was first going to college, back in 19-mumble-mumble. I was attending Michigan State University, and the school had just finished constructing a building for its computer sciences department. It was a comparatively small, but four-story building, and the computer took up the entire third floor! (The Hollerith card punch machines were down on the first floor.) There was a little visitor’s space on the third floor where you go could and watch the computer at work, with all the blinking lights and whatnot. Today, of course, that computer is ridiculously out of date. I mean, my cell phone (yes, I now have one. I’m being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century) has more computing power in it than that old IBM mainframe. As a consequence of that experience, it seems I sometimes have a tendency to be a bit amazed at how far we’ve come in the ensuing years.

Anyway, to get back to my point, I ran across a video on the internet at the Scottish Parliament website that is of Romilly Squire (a _very_ active member of the Heraldry Society of Scotland and a very talented heraldic artist, in addition to being a really nice person) discussing the Scottish coat of arms, the “ruddy lion ramping in a field of gold” as it has sometimes been described, from the days before the Union with England. It is of particular interest since he describes the various parts of the achievement of arms (the shield, helm, crest, supporters, mottoes, and collar of the Order of St. Andrew) of the Kings and Queens of the Scots which now hangs in the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh. The video can be found at:

Please drop by and check it out!

Monday, February 22, 2010

It’s Everywhere! It’s Everywhere!

I know that I’ve said this before, but periodically I have it confirmed, that you can find heraldry just about anywhere and everywhere. A recent case in point:

I was riding the elevator up to my work one day last week. (We’re now on the seventh floor of an eight-story building. When we were down on the fourth floor, I’d usually just walk up the stairs, telling myself that I needed the exercise. But seven is just a little too far to go. I kept having visions of someone finding my dead of a heart attack body in the stairwell somewhere between the fifth and sixth floors, so I take the elevator now.)

Anyway, someone else in the elevator was going to the sixth floor, and when the doors opened there for them to leave, I noticed a new office (so new that their number plate is a hand-lettered half sheet of paper) that had a framed grant of arms hanging on the wall in their reception area. So, of course, I did a quick double-take before the doors closed, since I just wasn’t expecting to see a grant of arms hanging up in the building where I work. And then made a mental note to myself to bring my camera to work and go down and ask if I might take some photographs.

A couple of days later I had my camera with me, and went down to the sixth floor office, identified myself as (1) someone who worked just upstairs, and (2) as someone with a strong interest in heraldry (while giving the receptionist one of my Appleton Studios business cards), and asked if I might take some pictures of the grant. The receptionist called back to her boss and passed along my request. Permission being given (and I’d told them I would post one or two pictures on this blog), here are a couple of pictures for you of the grant of arms made April 19, 1985, by Donal Begley, then Chief Herald of Ireland, to Hugh Corrigan IV, attorney at law of Dallas, Texas. (The sprig of maple leaves in base on the mullet of eight points goes to the fact that Mr. Corrigan’s ancestor, Patrick Corrigan, emigrated from Ireland in 1832 to Canada.)

Mr. Corrigan has been very involved in researching his own genealogy and, from some of the entries I’ve seen by him or acknowledging his assistance, in helping others with their own genealogy on lines related to his. It was apparently after his having done a fair bit of this research that he decided to apply to the Chief Herald of Ireland for a grant of arms. And, of course, to pass along to his family.

But, my goodness, what a great thing to find on the way to work one day. It just goes to show once again that you can find heraldry everywhere.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Specialized On-Line Heraldic Dictionary

Apparently, I haven’t been paying close enough attention. Even though I’m a member of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada, and have been for some years, I had somehow missed the addition to the RHSC’s website of The Canadian Heraldic Dictionary by past President of the RHSC Kevin Greaves. Having had it pointed out to me in the latest issue of the RHSC’s quarterly newsletter, Gonfanon, I have not only gone to check it out myself, but I thought I would pass knowledge of it along to you. It can be found on-line at the RHSC website at:

It’s a little different from the usual heraldic dictionary, in that it does not give you a listing of all of the names of the tinctures, lines of division, common charges, etc. Those can be found in just about every heraldic dictionary ever printed and/or placed on-line. (Indeed, several of these can be found through links in the left-hand column of this blog, under “Some Good On-Line Heraldry Books”.) Where this Dictionary is different, and thus where it becomes especially useful in the study of Canadian heraldry, is in its definitions – with illustrations from actual grants of arms – of lines of division and charges found only in, or very rarely outside of, Canadian heraldry.

It’s a great resource, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the ways in which heraldry is being used, and incorporating new charges and lines of division,* today.

* Not that the addition of charges and lines of division is anything new to the field of heraldry. See, for example, my article “New Directions in Heraldry” which can be found on-line at and  You may also use the link to the article in the left-hand column of this blog under “Articles I’ve Written”.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Heraldry in the News

A recent article in the Trinity News gives an identification of the various coats of arms on Trinity College’s Campanile (a freestanding bell tower) which is placed so prominently in the main square of the College in Dublin, Ireland. Each of the coats of arms is identified and their blazons given. The article can be found on-line at:

There are some nice photos of the Campanile throughout the seasons at the Ian Russell Art website at

We had the opportunity of staying at Trinity College during the International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences held in Dublin in 2002,* and I can attest to the beauty of the structure. Go by and see it if you are ever in the area. (Be warned, however; the “hallowed cobblestones” there can be murder on your feet. The wearing of very sturdy shoes is recommended.)

* We stayed in the buildings known as “Botany Bay”, which made us the envy of our medievalist friends as we were thus directly across the square from where they keep the Book of Kells, but all I could hear at the time, and since, upon thinking of the words “Botany Bay” is the voice of Chekov in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan going “Botany Bay? Botany Bay! Captain, we must get out of here!!”

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It’s Art, But Is It Heraldry?

Is it even heraldic art? Brooklyn-based artist Sarah G. Sharp has begun a project that re-imagines the links between heraldry, class, and power. “From Dexter to Sinister: Exquisite Blazonry for the Disenfranchised” (, a collaborative art project, pairs visual artists with writers. To quote from the “About the Collaboration” page of the website: “Writers begin by creating a ‘blazon.’ They are asked only to be aware of the history and practice of blazonry, but [to] interpret the process in any way they see fit. The written blazon is then passed on to a visual artist via e-mail. They can then interpret and respond in any way they wish, creating a ‘crest’ from which another writer can make a ‘blazon.’”
A number of other artists and writers have gotten involved. One, Leni Zuma, created a “blazon” for Crest VII (image above) which can be found on her blog at

“From Dexter to Sinister” will be included in the exhibition Here, There and Everywhere, part of the next Transcultural Exchange Conference (Boston, April 8-10, 2011).

Monday, February 8, 2010

It's Not a Coat of Arms, It's a "Shield"

I ran across a television ad (no, let’s be real; it was a whole lot of ads) for Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, Texas. TVS is a private Kindergarten through twelfth grade coeducational college preparatory school, which is not affiliated with any specific religious denomination, unlike many of the private K-12 schools in the area, though they do affirm a belief in God.

What struck me immediately in their advertisements was the prominent use of the “TVS Shield” (they do not call it a coat of arms or even a crest, but do treat it like a logo). A quick search on their website at gave the following meanings for the various parts of the shield:

The arch represents the protective umbrella of the school.

The student in the Trojan helmet represents a classical education.

The figures represent the four educational objectives of the Trinity Valley School philosophy.*

The waves represent the sea, the endless quest for knowledge and the meaning of life while fulfilling the motto.**
* “Fine scholarship with its fulfillment at college; the development of wide constructive interests; intelligent citizenship; and spiritual and moral development which promotes lasting values.”

** Per aspera ad astra, “to the stars through difficulties”.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Heraldry in the News!

A February 5, 2010 article in the Perthshire Advertiser notes the return of "a long-lost heraldic shield", the arms of Lord Glenlyon (later the sixth Duke of Atholl) who had participated in the tournament organized by the Earl of Eglinton.  I've posted before (last September at and about the rediscovery and sale of eight of the Eglinton shields.  Now, it seems that one of them (see image, below) is making its way home, to Blair Castle, seat of the Atholl dukes.
The full article can be found on-line here:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Herald in the News!

There's an article in the on-line version of The Whitstable Times of Whitstable, Kent, England today (February 4, 2010) about one of my favorite academic heralds, entitled Whitstable Pearl: Cecil Humphery-Smith.  The article can be found at:  It gives just a little bit of background of the man, and then goes into a brief interview of him at his home in Seasalter.

For those of you who don't know Mr. Humphrey-Smith other than as an author of several useful books on heraldry (Anglo-Norman Armory, Anglo-Norman Armory II, Armigerous Ancestors, among others), he is a remarkably knowledgeable man who has, hidden deep within himself, a wicked sense of humor.

In addition to owning several of his books (including all of those listed above), I have had the opportunity of meeting him at several of the International Congresses of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences, most memorably at the ones in Turin, Italy; in Besançon, France; in Bruges, Belgium; and at St. Andrews, Scotland.

If I may tell a little story, at the Congress in Bruges in 2004 the lectures were on the second floor of the building and the between lectures refreshments were on the first (ground) floor.  There was an elevator, but it was both slow and overcrowded between lectures.  He was, at that time, getting around with the aid of a cane (as you can see in the photograph above that was taken the last day of the Congress in Bruges), but didn't want to wait for the elevator.  As several of us were walking with him towards the stairs, he asked if he might take my arm to steady himself as we went down the stairs, to which I readily assented.  As we arrived at the first floor, he thanked me, and I asked him if this made me "an heraldic supporter."  He chuckled, and headed off to the coffee table.  (But he didn't say, "No"!)

Anyway, check out the article.  It's a pleasant insight into one of the modern titans of heraldry.

Heraldry for Sale

The Bank of England Accounts Department Building, built in the 1950s and demolished in 2007 to make way for a new glass fronted building, had a lot of decorative sculpture on it, much of which was heraldic. It is now possible to buy (if you have sufficient money; alas, I do not) many of these remarkable sculptures. Pictures and additional information (including the names of the sculptors and the specific dates of the sculptures) can be found on the website of Westland London at

All of these works are very nice, and some have an extra heraldic “cool” factor: the dragons (sejant erect) holding a shield with the sword from the arms of London on them; the unicorn (again, sejant erect) holding a shield with the crest from the English Royal arms; a keystone with the crest of the Scottish Royal arms, just to mention a few.

The site is well worth visiting just to admire the artwork, which is first rate. And if you should happen to have the desire, and the money, you might be able to purchase a really great piece of history and heraldic artwork.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Roll of Early American Arms

In the American Heraldry Society Forum, Arian Collins announced recently that he (with help from other AHS members Eric Hall, Robert Tucker and Joseph McMillan) has completed the pre-1825 blazons for the AHS's Roll of Early American Arms.  I mention this here not only because my book on The Gore Roll (available at was used as a source (along with such standbys of early American armory as Crozier's General Armory and Virginia Heraldica, Bolton's American Armoury, and Matthew's Complete American Armory & Blue Book), but because it's such a great resource for finding coats of arms as they were used in early America.  The AHS has made this resource available to everyone on their website, at  I have also added this link to the "Some Good On-Line Armorials and Ordinaries" section in the left-hand column of this blog.

They do note that: "Arms are included in this roll based on actual use as reported in the sources given. We have not attempted to validate the user's right to the arms beyond what is reported in the sources. Names given in italics are those of an immigrant to America whose descendants bore the arms shown. The immigrant himself may not have made use of the arms."

This is a wonderful heraldic resource, and the gentlemen mentioned above deserve to be applauded for the tremendous amount of work that they put into making such a resource available to the rest of the world.