Saturday, December 31, 2011

The End of Another Year

And so we come to the end of another year – the third for this blog.  And I would like to take the time to once again thank you, everyone who has dropped by and read the posts here over the past year.  Thank you all!

It continues to amaze me, and gratify me, and humble me, the places from which visitors to this blog come.  I regularly go out to check the latest statistics from SiteMeter, which tells me from which countries the most recent 100 visitors to the site originated.  (I never get any personal information; at most it gives me the country, region, and sometimes city of a visitor's internet service provider.  That’s as “personal” as it gets.)  The Cluster Map and the Flag Index down in the left-hand column here also are an indication of the origins of visitors to this blog.  As I write this, the ten most recent visitors have come from: South Carolina, France (Paris), California, Russia, France (Toulon), Thailand, Singapore, New Hampshire, South Africa, and Canada.  And periodically a visitor will surprise me, coming from some place unexpected: South Korea, or Kuwait, Egypt, Libya, the Canary Islands.  Saudi Arabia.  Israel.  China.  The Islamic Republic of Iran.  Vietnam.  Not places where you would necessarily expect to find much, or even any, interest in some blog about heraldry and coats of arms by some Yank in Texas, of all places.  So, as I said: I am amazed, and gratified, and humbled.  I never really expected, when I began, to reach such a literally worldwide, globe-encircling audience.

Once again, to all of you who have stopped by to read these posts, I hope that you have at least learned a little something new, or been entertained for a moment, or even better, both.  Thank you for dropping by, and I look forward to continuing to write about this esoteric topic we call heraldry, in the hopes of continuing to show you something new, or old, or maybe just entertain you for a moment.

To end this year’s posts, I thought I’d include a painting of my own (self-assumed) coat of arms from the Dublin Roll, a roll of arms of the attendees and participants in the 2002 International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences,* made by the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland.

* My presentation that year was entitled "New Directions in Heraldry".  If you are interested, a copy of it can be found on my website at .

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The (Almost) Arms of the United States

J.L. Bell has a blog that I drop by and read regularly entitled Boston 1775, which covers a myriad of topics relating to the beginnings of the Revolutionary War, mostly – as you may have guessed from the title of the blog – in Massachusetts.

In a post on November 26, 2011, he highlights a drawing of what the arms of the United States might have looked like.

This picture is of a sketch by Charles Thomson of how he pictured the Great Seal of the United States in June 1782.  (The eagle with the shield is on the obverse of the Great Seal.)  In his written proposal to the Continental Congress, Thomson suggested for the seal:

On a field Chevrons composed of seven pieces on one side & six on the other, joined together at the top in such wise that each of the six bears against or is supported by & supports two of the opposite side the pieces of the chevrons on each side alternate red & white. The shield born on the breast of an American Eagle on the wing & rising proper. In the dexter talon of the Eagle an Olive branch & in the sinister a bundle of Arrows. Over the head of the Eagle a Constellation of Stars surrounded with bright rays and at a little distance clouds.

So what we might have ended up with, instead of the Paly of thirteen argent a gules, a chief azure (that so many people even today can’t depict correctly – see my posts of October 13, 2011 ( and April 23, 2009 ( for examples), we could have ended up with a (nearly unblazonable!) chevron of six stripes to dexter red and white and seven stripes  to sinister white and red on a blue field.

The full article can be found on-line at:

The article also contains a link to another website,, that gives the Great Seal’s history, symbolism, and design process, as well as some of the myths and misinformation about it, which you might find of some interest.

Monday, December 26, 2011

They're Number One! They're Number One!

"Trump meets his match as Lyon takes up arms against him"

In an article at, dated November 25, 2011, author Susan Morrison notes that:

Sporty people, by the way, are always moaning about our showing in sporty things, and yet we are premier first division, world-beating, international league table-topping champions, crushing all comers, when it comes to Heraldry.

Oh yes. When it comes to what to put on your shield as you go into battle, we, the Scots, are the people to beat.
She goes on to observe that when The Donald, as Donald Trump is not always affectionately referred to over here, tried to erect his unregistered coat of arms in Scotland, he ran afoul of the Lord Lyon King of Arms, who told him he had to take it down (at the very least, until it is registered!).  Susan ends with the comment:

And, I am proud to say, Lord Lyon Of Scotland : 1, loud-mouthed Yank: Nil. Go, team Lyon!
 The complete article can be found on-line at:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What's New, Pussycat?

Well, not especially new, but a recent (November 20, 2011) article in The Telegraph noted that singer Tom Jones (shown below) acquired a coat of arms a little while ago.

The article by Richard Eden begins:
For a member of the aristocracy, it’s not unusual to have a coat of arms. For the son of a coal miner who grew up in a terrace house in Pontypridd, it is, however, something to sing about.
The coat of arms, described briefly (but not blazoned) by David White, Somerset Herald, makes them to be canting arms (where the figures on the shield are a pun on the bearer's surname).  In this case, the cant is on the singer's real surname of Woodward, and consist of a key (with its "wards") between two trees (for the "wood").  The crest is a red demi-dragon holding an inverted leek, thus referring to his Welsh roots.

What?  No panties?

There is what has become something of a tradition of ladies throwing their panties onto the stage where he performs, a tradition taken to excess once by comedienne Dawn French, who when meeting the singer, took off pair after pair after pair of panties (which she had on over her clothes) to give to him.

The full article in The Telegraph can be found on-line at:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Once Again ...

... you can find heraldry everywhere!

In this particular case, I was attending a ceremony over in Fort Worth, Texas, and found the following bit of military heraldry on a pickup truck in the parking lot.

I was glad I had my camera with me!

These are the arms of the Air Force Special Operations Command, containing a pair of wings surmounted by a dagger, point to base (what the English heralds would call "reversed" but what American heralds think of as "inverted"), and in chief the old 1930s and very early 1940s wing markings of what was then the United States Army Air Force.  (Later they dropped the red roundel in the center, and eventually added a white horizontal bar behind the roundel, bordered in blue.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Heraldry and Illuminated Manuscripts: A Brief Review

Over at Spoonfed there’s a recent (November 11, 2011) review of one man’s (Tom Jeffreys) take on an exhibition at the British Library, Royal Manuscripts - The Genius of Illumination, on display now through March 13, 2012. It’s a good review, and makes me want to go and check out what I can of the collection.

In one paragraph - and this is where we’re getting close to the topic of this blog, heraldry - he discusses the fact that these manuscripts incorporate a lot of different conceptual threads, one of which was kingliness, which itself was tied to two things: “God, and lineage.” And what was often used to help tie a ruler to some of the great figures of history? Why, heraldry, of course. “[B]y embedding a monarch's coat of arms into Biblical stories, the aim is to reinforce his authority – an authority which often rested not simply on military might but on precarious genealogical arguments.”

(Umm, let me guess; the manuscript page above belonged to the King of England, right? Because his coat of arms and other insignia appears on the page how many times? To quote an old Mel Brooks line: “It’s good to be the king.”)

It’s a nice overview, about a great collection of manuscripts. You can read the entire review on-line at:


Monday, December 12, 2011

Is Heraldry Christian?

This is a topic that occasionally arises among heralds and heraldry enthusiasts. I first ran into it as an idea way back in 1998, when I was presenting a paper at the International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences entitled “Identity Through Heraldry In A Non-Heraldic Culture: The use of heraldry and quasi-heraldic devices by government, business, institutions and associations in the United States of America.” A copy of that presentation can be found on my website at  During the question-and-answer session which followed the presentation, one of the attendees made the point that the United States could not truly be said to be a “non-heraldic” nation, since it was a Christian one, the implication being that heraldry and Christianity were somehow linked together.

The topic has arisen again, this time in a post over on Kimon Andreou’s IDTG, his blog on “heraldry, genealogy, history and other things.” (I can highly recommend IDTG, and link to it has long been included in the “Other Blogs of Heraldic Interest” section of the left-hand column here.) In a post on October 6, 2011, he makes the argument that “Heraldry is not an exclusively Christian nor an exclusively European phenomenon” and gives both early and modern examples of why this is the case. (He even links, among other resources, to my own little article on Mamluk heraldry at and calls this blog “highly recommended,” for which I must - with all due modesty - thank him.)

If you’d like to read his take on whether heraldry is either exclusively Christian or exclusively European, or even if you’d just like to see the sources he links to there, that post can be found at:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Being Dragged, Kicking and Screaming, Into the 21st Century

Okay, I'll admit it: I'm not the target market for the latest and greatest in computers and internet and social media "stuff."  Admittedly, now, the first computer I got to use was back in 1966-1967, and the computer itself took up the entire third floor of the computer science building at my university.  (I am not making this up.)  And it didn't have a significant percentage of the computing power of my non-smart cellphone that I carry about in my pocket today.  Hard to imagine, isn't it?

Anyway, all that is to say that I have been something of a foot-dragger when it comes to embracing the newest computer technology, etc.  And this in spite of the fact that here I am, on the internet, blogging away on a regular basis.

But the fact that I don't rush in to embrace the latest computer technology does not mean that I am a Luddite, or that I have any particular antipathy towards where computers are taking us.  Indeed, I'm very happy that so many heraldic armorials and ordinaries can be accessed these days with computers; heraldry that in many cases we might never even have known about, much less been able to see, because they were tucked away in some library or archive somewhere in some corner of a far distant land.

But, social media, now.  You know, things like Facebook.  Yes, I have a Facebook account.  And sometimes, because they don't write to me very often, Facebook is the only way that I discover what my children or grandchildren are up to.  (That's not always a positive thing; Grandpa Dave does not need, or even want, to know that you are going out to do "shots with [your] friends!  Woohoo!")

But, yes, I have a Facebook account, and now Facebook has made it even easier for you to find me there.  My new "short form" Facebook ID is:

And even if you're not that interested in my personal life (frankly, I'm not always all that enamored of it myself), here are a few others who have Facebook pages or groups in which you might be interested:

The Canadian Heraldic Authority:
The American Heraldry Society:
The Royal Heraldry Society of Canada:
The Heraldry Society (England):
The Scots Heraldry Group:
Ecclesiastical Heraldry Fan Club:

On-line social media -- You don't have to embrace it wholeheartedly, but you don't have avoid it completely, either.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Heraldry in the News!

In a brief article published on October 31, 2011, the on-line noted the end of Cambridge’s annual Festival of Ideas. Of special note were the members of Cambridge University Heraldic and Genealogical Society, who put on a demonstration of their work and helped children create a coat of arms for their own families.

You can find the whole article, with a photograph of some of the CUHGS members and children (including Isaac Sutton proudly holding up some colored markers as only a five-year-old can!) on-line at

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The College of Arms in the News!

There’s a well-done if a little dated (April 1, 2010) little article over on the website of The Daily Express about the College of Arms, and what fees they charge, and why, and where those fees go.  Plus a few little tidbits of stories about how “eminent” a person has to be to obtain a grant of arms from the College, how a badger with a hay rake looks better than a badger with a word processor, why a surgeon received a grant with a large intestine on it, and how the Institute of Engineers in Australia got blue kangaroos.

Want to know how much the heralds really get paid to create a coat of arms?  Drop on by the Express’s website and check it out for yourself:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Vexillology in the News!

The city of Duncan, British Columbia, is going to be getting a new flag. But most people won’t know what it looks like until it is unveiled March 4, 2012, during the city’s centennial celebration. (Old joke: What’s the difference between a European and a North American? A European thinks 100 kilometers is a long way, and a North American thinks 100 years is a long time.)

Anyway, there’s an article (dated October 19, 2011 – yeah, I’m running a little behind, but it’s been a busy last half of the year for us) in the on-line website, discussing how Councillor Sharon Jackson has overseen, or some might think, ramrodded through, the design of the city’s new flag, with very little input from the public. “Stuff designed by 5,000 people is always crap,” she said. And, to a point, I tend to agree with her on that.

However, the story goes on to note that Duncan’s heraldry expert, former Garter Principal King of Arms Sir Conrad Swan - who design Duncan’s coat of arms - wasn’t involved, she explained. In the end, Jackson decided to design the flag herself, one “that represents everything I love about Duncan, and the Cowichan Valley,” she said.

Fellow Councillor Paul Fletcher didn’t like the process followed, even if it didn’t cost a lot of money. “I’m not happy with a flag that’ll last us 100 years, and probably deserved public input. I don’t need the secrecy of the unveiling,” he said. “For the centennial committee to appoint themselves the designers, I don’t like that.”

You can read the full story on-line at  Or you can just wait until next March, and see what design Ms. Jackson and the city’s centennial committee have come up with.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Heraldry (Still) in the News!

A friend and reader of this blog sent me a link to yet another story of outrage about Speaker of the House of Commons Bercow's coat of arms.  There have been a lot of stories about Mr. Bercow's arms recently, and I haven't had the time to read them all.  (It hasn't helped that most of them seem to say exactly the same things.)  I appreciated receiving the link to this one, however, because had a section with pictures and descriptions of "Coats of arms that could be adopted by celebrities", some of which I found especially humorous.  (My personal favorite was the motto for the proposed arms of Dominique Strauss-kahn, Liberté, Egalité, Infidélité.)

The article was published on Sunday, December 4, 2011, by The Telegraph.  Here's the link to read the article, and to see the proposed celebrity coats of arms:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Heraldry in the News!

There’s a short little story in a recent edition of The Memphis Daily News of Tennessee about an attorney there, Robert Hutton of the law firm Glankler Brown, PLLC, whose “accomplishments earned him and his descendants a coat of arms in [sic; that should be "from"] the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Arms.”

The article spends a lot more time about his background and some of the cases he’s argued as a lawyer,* but does discuss briefly his interest in his family history after his grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, and how as a part of that research he contacted the College of Arms in London to see if there was a family connection to Archbishop of York Matthew Hutton.  Though there was no such connection, the herald – a good salesman – told Mr. Hutton that: “Though you’re not related to the Archbishop of York, having an English background and with your work the Crown would likely grant you arms in your own right.”

So attorney Hutton is now the proud owner of his very own coat of arms, complete, no doubt, though the article has no photographs of either coat of arms or the honorary grant, with its pretty illumination and pendant wax seals.

If you’d like to read more about Mr. Hutton, his work, and his new coat of arms, the article can be found on-line at:

* In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve worked for attorneys for a number of years now, and I may have a more jaded view than most about how impressive it is to argue a case before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shakespeare’s Heraldry

There’s a post (dated November 4, 2011) over on The Shakespeare blog: In Shakespeare’s footsteps by Sylvia Morris entitled “The mysteries of emblems, mottoes, and Shakespeare’s own chair”. In it, she discusses Shakespeare’s coat of arms, and how it appears on a chair traditionally known as “Shakespeare’s courting chair,” which appears to have been made in the early 1600's and thus possibly contemporaneous with the Bard of Avon.

Whatever the case of the authenticity of the chair, she’s got an interesting and informative post, and even gives a little of the controversy in the College of Arms about the grant of arms to Shakespeare as well as some other aspects of how Shakespeare “ye player” may have used or been involved with heraldry. You can find it on-line at:

She has an earlier post (November 2), “The facts about Shakespeare’s coat of arms,” that gives more of the history of the grant from the College of Arms that you might also find of interest. There’s a link to that post at the top of the page linked to above.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Heraldry in the News!

I had run across one of the articles linked to below, and then also had a regular reader send me another link to it.  So I knew it had to be something that you all needed to know about.

It seems that John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons in England has recently had an official portrait made, and – and this is where it relates to this blog – the frame incorporates his new coat of arms.

Now, that is not in and of itself all that newsworthy.  I mean, there are portraits of Speakers going all the way back to Sir Thomas More.  What makes it newsworthy in the eyes of the media is that the costs of the portrait and frame, which come out of the House budget, ran to some £37,000 (US$57,765).  And this at a time when HM Government is trying to pass austerity measures in response to the struggles of the British (well, and everybody else’s, too) economy.

The coat of arms itself is a bit of what I tend to call "resumé" or “kitchen sink” heraldry, because they’ve thrown in all sorts of charges, including the proverbial kitchen sink.  I’ve heard it said that “a coat of arms should not be a resumé.”  Well, apparently the College of Arms and Speaker Bercow forgot, or ignored, that particular guideline.  On a field divided per pale, there’s a ladder (said to represent Speaker Bercow’s family’s humble origins), four roundels (because of his interest in tennis, and because of his roles as chairman of the Boundary Commissions of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), two seaxes (several article scalls them “scimitars,” but they’re seaxes; you can tell by the semi-circular “notch” cut out of the back edge of the blade.  The Guardian corrected the reference to “scimitars” in their story) taken from the arms of the county of Essex, where the Speaker attended university.  The words on the motto scroll “All are equal” are interspersed with pink triangles (for his championing of LBGT rights), and the reverse side of the scroll is the rainbow flag of the gay rights movement.  As I said, “kitchen sink.”

You can find the stories, with pictures and various reactions to the portrait, the coat of arms, and especially to the costs, at the following:

Monday, November 28, 2011

When Is A Knight Not “Really” A Knight?

I was really tempted to do some kind of subject line with a punch line of “once a knight is enough,” but I manfully resisted the temptation. (The fact that I wasn’t able to come up with something on short notice that really worked well had nothing to do with it!)

Anyway, there was a story dated November 2, 2011, in the Greenwich, Connecticut Greenwich Time about Peter von Braun, who is running for election to the Board of Education there. There is, apparently, some controversy being stirred up by his opponents about the fact that he calls himself a knight.

What the controversy really boils down to is that Mr. von Braun has not been knighted per se, but is a Knight of Grace of the Order of St. John, a chivalric order headed by Queen Elizabeth II. So he can’t add “Sir” as a title to his name, but, yes, technically he is a knight.

The part of the story that interested me was the pictures, showing von Braun with the grant of honorary arms he received from the College of Arms in 1983, along with a close up of the grant alone. Even when the arms are pretty complex (and these seem to be pretty complex, quarterly with a checky fess), it’s always of interest to see someone’s grant of arms.

If you’d like to read the full story of the controversy, including what David White, Somerset Herald of the College of Arms in London had to say to inquiries about von Braun's knighthood, it can be found on-line at:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Keep On Saying It ...

... and it continues to be regularly proven to me: You can find heraldry everywhere.

And sometimes, you don’t even have to go out looking for it. Sometimes, it comes right to you.

In this case, it was on a sticker that had been placed on the front page of the Sunday edition of the local newspaper. Providence Christian School of Texas was advertising their having an open house, and prominently displayed on that sticker was their arms-like logo.

This of course, was just a monochrome version; a full color version can be found on their website,

Alas, they have fallen into the same trap that has snared so many (including, I am ashamed to report, the Times of London), that of calling their coat of arms a “crest.” Still, if you can get past that, a page on their website ( explains the elements of their coat of arms and motto.

It’s not terribly good as heraldry (the cross, for example, extends beyond the edges of the shield, and they’ve succumbed to the desire to make the shield quarterly with a completely different charge - or charges - in each quarter), but still, it’s an attempt, and better than some I’ve seen before.

But, to repeat: You can find heraldry everywhere! Even delivered to your front door.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Once Again, You Can Find Heraldry Everywhere!

I’ve said it many, many times, and it continues to be proven true: You can find heraldry everywhere!

In this particular case, my wife and I had gone out for a lunch of her favorite food (that is, “food that’s been fixed by somebody else”), and right there in the parking lot was a van with the following coat of arms prominently placed about it in several places.

These are the arms, or at least the logo, of the Texas Tech University Student Housing.  I'd blazon them as Quarterly gules and argent, in bend an open book and a lamp of knowledge argent, and in bend sinister a mullet gyronny of ten sable and argent and a key erect wards to chief and to sinister sable.  (Sable, in spite of the fact that the key is at least 50% white.  But that's "metal on metal", and we all know that that would be very bad contrast and "just isn't done, don't you know.")  The shield is surmounted by an eagle displayed argent.

The arms appear to be a variant of those that appear on the website of Texas Tech, which use an entirely red shield with a white cross throughout charged with ten* acorns bendwise (acorns are "reversed" or inverted, what many of us would think is upside down, by default), and the same charges (open book, star, key, and lamp) in the four quarters.

Now, Texas Tech is located in Lubbock, Texas, nearly 350 miles from the restaurant where we were eating. I have no idea what it was doing in little ol’ Cedar Hill (the next town over from where we live in Duncanville) at the time. But still, it’s just further proof that you don’t even have to be looking for it to run into heraldry. Just keep your eyes open and you’ll see it, even in a society that often seems to disparage the use of coats of arms as elitist or snobbish.

You can find heraldry everywhere!

*  I've heard the opinion that heralds cannot count that high; that for many heralds, the numbering system goes: one, two, three, four, five, six, semy (or many). This is not strictly true; I've seen blazons that specifically numbered up to sixteen. But, still, it's not a bad rule of thumb.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Postage Stamp Heraldry

I have no idea how I missed this; the announcement was made back in February of 2010, but I never saw anything about it. My wife (bless her heart, she sends me any heraldry she comes across as she cruises the web) sent a picture to me and asked if I knew. And I didn’t! Anyway ...

The United States Postal Service issued a set of four Navy heroes stamps last year. Each one has a bust of the person so honored, and includes a bit of heraldry for each one.

All of the images of the stamps that I’ve found are not that large, and the exact designs of the heraldry/insignia (which a placed down in one corner of each stamp) aren’t at all easy to make out, but they appear to be the coat of arms or insignia of a ship on which the particular individual served.

The honorees, in alphabetical order, are:

Arleigh A. Burke, a top destroyer squadron commander in World War II, who later served three terms as chief of naval operations, the Navy's highest ranking officer.

John McCloy, one of the few men in the history of the U.S. to earn two Medals of Honor - one for a rescue mission during the Boxer Rebellion in which he was wounded and the second during the 1914 Mexican Revolt for intentionally exposing his boat to draw enemy fire to identify their positions. In 1919, he was awarded the Navy Cross as commander of USS Curlew, which engaged in minesweeping in the North Sea after World War I.

Petty Officer Doris Miller (I've always heard his name pronounced as if the "s" were silent: Doree), cited as the first black American hero of World War II. At Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he was a mess attendant on the battleship USS West Virginia. Miller helped rescue scores of shipmates wounded or trapped in wreckage, later helping move the ship's mortally wounded captain. Never trained in its operation, he manned an unattended 50-caliber machine gun to fire on Japanese aircraft until ordered to abandon the bridge as fires raged out of control. He was awarded the Navy Cross and was killed in action in 1943.

William S. Sims, commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe during World War I, who was an outspoken reformer and innovator who helped shape the Navy into a modern fighting force.

It’s nice to see such a public use of heraldry, even if it did happen early last year and I missed it then.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Heraldry in the News


Oh, dear. It seems that the artist painting the new sign installed by the Epping Town Council had an error on it. The three seaxes, an early Anglo-Saxon type of sword, had the “notch” on the wrong side of the swords. (The red shield with the three seaxes is the arms of Essex.)

So he fixed them. But then ...

Someone noticed that the other shield on the sign, with the arms of the City of London, had the sword upside down and on the wrong side of the shield. (And I would note that it is the wrong color, too! It should be the same red as the cross.) The sword should properly be placed in the dexter chief quarter of the shield (the upper left as you look at it), and on the sign it is placed in the sinister chief quarter (the upper right).

(It is a pretty nice deer, though as one person noted, it's not the specific type of deer that one would normally find in the forests around Epping.)

One commenter to the story noted that “This is a poor advertisment for the painter if he can't get the sign right after more than 2 attempts.”

The full story can be found the website of The Guardian at:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Heraldry in the News

A recent story about a Sarasota, Florida man discusses his commission to design two embroidered coats of arms for chairs in the Peace Palace at The Hague. (The Peace Palace is home to the International Court of Justice and other international facilities in The Netherlands.)

Willem van Osnabrugge, who grew up in The Netherlands, was interviewed by Paradise Afshar of the Bradenton Herald about this commission. He has been creating embroidered coats of arms for his friends for some years. Eventually, he created a website to showcase his work, and Jacobine Wieringa of the Carnegie Foundation saw it and contacted him. The Carnegie Foundation is building a visitor center in front of The Peace Palace and they wanted embroidered coats of arms for two nations that have passed into history: Austria-Hungary and Yugoslavia.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “It’s my little bit of contribution to world peace.”

The full story can be found on-line at:

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Everything Old Is New Again"

As the old song says.

British Airways has launched a new advertising campaign (emphasizing the company’s motto: “To Fly. To Serve.”) featuring their coat of arms. As a part of that campaign, there is a well done video on the history of their achievement of arms, with both images of the original grant from the College of Arms in January 1975 ...

and the more recent rendition done by a graphics design company, which keeps all of the elements of the original while at the same time modernizing them and allowing for three-dimensional renderings, as well.

Frankly, I think it’s great when companies update their coats of arms rather than simply (and usually more expensively) sending off to a graphics design firm for a new logo (most of which will be outdated in a few years). And, as one of the company spokespersons noted in the video, the British Airways achievement of arms is “as relevant today and tomorrow as it always has been.” And isn’t that a goodly (in both senses, large and beneficial) part of the attraction of the use of heraldry anyway?

You can watch the whole three minute, 46 second video on-line at:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Heraldry in Charlotte, North Carolina

Returning back to Dallas, while sitting down for a quick bit of lunch between planes at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, I found one last bit of heraldry on this trip.

It was on the front of a Mexican restaurant called Tequileria. (Looking them up on-line, I find that, naturally enough given their name, they emphasize their “top shelf tequilas” and “impressive array of margaritas.”) I didn’t go in (I was eating at another establishment a short way away), but I did see this on the front wall of the store.

If I were to try to blazon this “armorial seal” (since as you can see they’ve tried to make it look like it’s been impressed into a wax seal), it would have to be something like: Per fess ... a bird close reguardant and per pale ... an agave plant (which is what they make tequila from) and ... well, I’m not quite sure what the thing in sinister base represents. It might be some sort of a maker’s mark, a C and A (without the crossbar) conjoined, or a C and an inverted V conjoined, or it might represent some sort of tool. Or I may be totally missing its signification here. The helm above the shield is that of a knight (facing front, visor up), with a crest of a swallow-tailed pennon on a pole. And it has a motto scroll below the shield, but no motto.  (You'd think that they could have used that space for something like "In tequila veritas" or something similar.)

What a great trip, confirming to me once again that “You can find heraldry (or at least things that are trying to look like heraldry) everywhere!”

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Final Bit More Heraldry in Virginia Beach

Heading back out of Virginia the morning after my presentation to the Virginia Beach Genealogy Society, I spotted the following advertisement for Tactical in the airport there.

And, sure enough, tucked in amongst the logos of the companies whose goods they carry were a couple of heraldic ones.

I find it interesting that the less heraldic one (Luminox) is on a shield shape (divided per fess with the words Lumi and Nox on it) ...

while the more heraldic one (if you ignore the violation of the rule of contrast, that says “color shall not be placed upon color,” and red on black is color on color) (LBT Tactical Gear) is simply displayed on a rectangle (Sable a lion rampant to sinister gules).

There is also the one that doesn’t jump out at you - at first - but which I thought had the most innovative combination of heraldry and logo.

It’s the logo for Nemo, which is the letter N designed to look like a shield with a bend on it.

Now, how cool is all that?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Some Military and Civilian Heraldry in Virginia Beach

Having made my way out the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach (the destination of my wandering about that day, as I noted in my last post here), I was pleasantly surprised to find not only a B-17G parked out back, but a Junkers Ju-52 trimotor transport plane from WWII.

And, of course, it had some German heraldry on its nose.

Sitting amongst the other planes in the hanger, there was a Spitfire Mark IX ...

With a really great heraldic hunting horn painted on its side.

But airplanes are not the only thing the museum there has. Here was a nice old Jaguar ...

With that great Jaguar Cars Ltd. logo of a jaguar’s head cabossed (face on, with no neck showing).

What a great way to spend a part of the day!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Heraldry in Virginia Beach

Having some free time before my presentation in Virginia Beach, I thought I’d go back out to the Military Aviation Museum they have there and see some more old airplanes. (Long before I got bitten by the heraldry bug, I was a WWII aviation enthusiast.) But, as I have noted before, you can find heraldry everywhere, and on my way to the museum I passed the West Neck Creek Equestrian Center.

Which has, for its logo, a semi-heraldic design.

If I had to try to blazon it, it would be something like: Argent, a polo mallet bendwise sinister azure surmounted by a bend argent, overall a spur fesswise argent interlaced in bend with the letters W and N sable. The shield is “supported” (or surrounded) by a bridle and bit.

Hey, just because you can find heraldry everywhere doesn’t mean that it’s always pretty.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Emergency Heraldry in Virginia Beach, Virginia

I traveled to Virginia recently to give another presentation to the Virginia Beach Genealogy Society. They're a really nice bunch of folks, and I was tickled pink to be asked back by them. I was packing light, but had pulled the shirt I wanted to wear for the presentation out of the wardrobe, and had checked it against several of my heraldic ties to decide which one of those I wanted to take with me to wear at the presentation. So far, so good. Then I arrived in Virginia Beach and unpacked. No tie. Apparently, I had left the tie in the tie rack in the wardrobe.

So I had to do some emergency shopping. Do you know how hard it is to find a necktie with an heraldic theme when you’re actually looking for one? I went to the nearby mall, with several large department stores. No heraldic ties. I went to a couple of men’s shops in the mall. No heraldic ties. I finally ended up at a Men’s Wearhouse nearby – the fifth store I tried – and Bingo! Not one, but two ties with an heraldic theme.

I was saved! And now, I have what I think of as my two "Virginia Beach Emergency Backup Ties." Unless, of course, I forget to pack them, too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Real Herald Makes Reel Heraldry

In an article in the Yorkshire Post dated August 21, 2011, there’s a nice discussion of the filming of the second season of the television series Downton Abbey. The entire series takes place in the early years of the 20th Century, and the close of the first season took us to the opening days of World War I.  (I will have to admit that I watched the whole first season as it was broadcast here in the States.)

What does all that have to do with heraldry? Devising an authentic-seeming North Yorkshire regiment fell to Fitzalan Pursuivant of Arms Extraordinary of the College of Arms in London, Alistair Bruce of Cronnach. “What gave me the greatest delight”, he says, “is that they asked me to invent a completely new and fictional regiment that the Earl of Grantham could have served in.”

Fitzalan has also advised on matters of aristocratic living, such as how gentlemen of the day should sit correctly while wearing tails, and if asparagus should be eaten at the dinner table with fingers – or without.

To find out the answer to that pressing question, and a whole lot of other stuff about the series, the complete article can be found on-line at:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More Ecclesiastical Heraldry

With the ordination today, October 18, 2011, of the Most Reverend Gregory J. Hartmayer as the 14th Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah, Georgia, we are treated to a rendition of the Bishop’s arms marshaled (to sinister, on the right in the shield below) with those of the Diocese (to dexter, on the left).

An announcement on the Diocese’s website at gives a full description of the arms and accompanying emblems, which you may find worth reading. I always find it interesting when we are given the reasons for the particular colors and charges that have been selected for a coat of arms (or, as here, two coats of arms, though marshaled on a single shield). I may not necessarily personally agree with the choices, but they are almost always a fascinating study of heraldry.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Heraldry in Las Vegas, Nevada

A week after out trip to North Carolina, we were back in Las Vegas, Nevada, where family members have lived since 1963. I didn’t have a lot of “free” time to go searching for heraldry, but did run across the following sign incorporating a coat of arms between my mother’s home and the hotel where we were going to be staying.

As many of you might recognize, these really aren’t the arms of Road Bear RV Rentals and Sales, but rather the company has simply copied the arms of the city of Berne, Switzerland. Admittedly, I can see the attraction; the arms are canting, that is to say, they are a pun on the name of both the city and the company here. That is, bär is German for bear, and sounds like the name Berne and bear. (The arms of Berlin feature a bear for the same reason.)

Still, I have to wish they hadn’t just used the arms of Berne for their heraldic logo.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ecclesiastical Heraldry in New York State

A recent (August 9, 2011) article in The Catholic Sun goes into some detail about the addition of arms (five feet high by four feet wide, forty feet above the floor) of Bishop James M. Moynihan, Bishop Emeritus of the Syracuse Diocese, painted in the apse of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, as well as a very brief discussion of the use of ecclesiastical heraldry in general, including the earliest use of a coat of arms by a pope (Pope Innocent III, 1198-1216).

Overall it’s a decent article (though I don’t recall having seen a saltire called a “saltair” before), and discusses the symbolism of the diocese’s and the bishop’s arms.

The full article can be found at

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Final Bit of Heraldry in Raleigh, North Carolina

Also found on the grounds of the North Carolina state capitol in Raleigh is a monument to the three Presidents of the U.S. from North Carolina: Andrew Jackson, 1829-1837 (center); James K. Polk, 1845-1849 (left); and Andrew Johnston, 1865-1869 (right), and prominent in the center, the arms of the United States. Well, no, not exactly.

Even if we go ahead and assume that they are not using the usual Petra Sancta hatching for red (vertical lines), so that these here are the expected seven white stripes and six red ones (the official blazon is Paly of thirteen argent and gules), the arms of the United States do not have stars on the chief. In the example here, there are thirteen stars, representing the thirteen colonies which broke away from England and later formed the United States.

The addition of stars to the chief on the arms of the U.S. is, alas, a common error. For that matter, I have also found a number of depictions of the U.S. arms with seven red stripes and six white ones. Both of these errors mimic the national flag, but are not really a part of the coat of arms. So here we have a case where familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, exactly, but it does become the basis for error.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Heraldry in the News!

Alex Singleton at the Mail Online has a gripe -- apparently he finds the Court of the Lord Lyon of Scotland to be "the silliest, most pointless government body ever."

I'm not certain from his brief blog post dated today - which can be found at - exactly what his complaint is.  I get the impression that it may be because the Lyon Court has prosecutorial powers, and has used them against one or more football and rugby clubs which were displaying heraldry which had not been registered in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings.  Maybe he was a big fan of one or more of the teams, and is upset that they had to pay money to register the emblems they were using.  Or maybe he just finds the idea of a regulatory body in this area to be offensive to his sensibilities. In any case, he finds the situation to be "Bonkers, utterly bonkers."

Yeah, that's so much worse than the situation in England (I am, of course, speaking facetiously here), where the College of Arms has virtually no power at all to protect coats of arms, thus fostering a situation where anyone can design or steal or "borrow" and display any heraldry they like (with the exception of the Royal Arms, which are protected by law).

And over on this side of the Atlantic, the American Heraldry Society has one again been discussing the fact that the United States will probably never, ever have a nationally-based even quasi-official heraldic authority.  Maybe Mr. Singleton should move over here, 'cause we'll let anybody go ahead and design and use a coat of arms or heraldry-like logo without having to deal with an overseeing authority or any kind of quality control or anything else at all.  (Of course, we do end up with some pretty awful designs that way. Not to mention all of the folks who believe that their "family crest" is the one that someone at a Renaissance fair or Scottish games sold them, because all of the Smith's in the world have but a single coat of arms, don't ya know.)

More Heraldry in Raleigh, North Carolina

Like the Veterans Memorial in High Point, North Carolina, that I wrote about a little while back (July 21, 2011,, the North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the grounds of the state capitol bears the symbols, sometimes heraldic, of the five major branches of the U.S. military services: the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard.

Different versions of the insignia of the Army and Navy are given on the World War II memorial just a few steps away from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Army having the full achievement of arms of the U.S.: a bald eagle bearing the arms of the US on its breast, maintaining a sheaf of olive branches in its dexter talon and a sheaf of arrows in its sinister talon, holding a scroll with the word E Pluribus Unum in its beak, the whole surmounted by a glory breaking through clouds and showing thirteen stars taking the place of a crest. The Navy bears the arms of the US with the addition of thirteen stars on the chief, surmounting two crossed anchors, the shield ensigned by an eagle.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

An Anniversary

In a recent article in The Voice of Russia (English-language version), it was noted that this year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the date when then-President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree establishing the insignia of presidential authority: the standard, or flag, of the President of the Russian Federation, and the presidential emblem.

The standard is square with three equal white, blue and red horizontal stripes, gold-fringed about the edges, with a golden double-headed eagle in the center bearing St. George on horseback slaying the dragon, on a red shield. A silver cramp-iron is engraved with the president’s name and the dates of his term in office and attached to the flagpole.

Mikhail Medvedev, a member of the Heraldic Council and well-known heraldic artist, says that the composition of the standard took shape in the late 17th century, the time of Peter the Great.

The complete article, entitled “Insignia of Russian presidential authority turn 15", can be found at:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Heraldry in Raleigh, North Carolina

This has been a traveling year for us! And, once again, wherever we’ve gone, we’ve seen heraldry. Some good, some bad, some real, some only heraldry-like.

In the course of one recent trip, we were able to spend a morning in Raleigh, North Carolina, and strolled about the grounds of the capitol building there. And, sure enough, there were coats of arms to be seen there!  (I know you're shocked.  Oh, wait, no you aren't!  And neither was I.)

This first one is from across the street from the capitol, on the building of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, carved over the main entrance.

As you can see, it’s an amazing conglomeration of agricultural symbols: in chief, naturally enough, we have some tobacco leaves, as the premier crop in the state. But there are also a hanging balance, a plow in base, and an I’m not sure what in the center (I don’t find a description of it even at the NC Department of Agriculture website, but it almost has to be some kind of agricultural tool), flanked by ears of wheat (to dexter) and ears of corn (maize) (to sinister). Below the plow are the words “Founded 1877" and below that three cotton bolls. Here’s a color version in the form of a seal rather than on a shield from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture website.

Monday, October 3, 2011

International Heraldry in Russia

There’s a nice (albeit brief) article on-line about the Museum and the Museum of Heraldry Awards at the Constantine Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. It’s a great little article; reading through it makes me want to go for a visit. There are some nice photographs of various articles with coats of arms on them, including a very nice set of dinnerware. And the article talks about some of the coins in the collection.

But what struck me was a photograph of some military medals in their collection, one of which is the Purple Heart, the U.S. military medal for those who have been wounded in the line of duty.

The Purple Heart medal not only has a bust (in profile) of George Washington on its obverse, it also has a depiction of his coat of arms (Argent two bars and in chief three mullets gules, which are also used as the arms and flag of Washington, DC).

Not exactly the sort of thing that I would have expected to find in St. Petersburg, Russia. St. Petersburg, Florida, maybe, but finding it in Russia was unexpected.

Anyway, if you’d like to see it (and I do recommend it to you), the full article can be found on-line at: