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.


  1. If they use the vertical stripes to represent the gules, why they don't use the horizontal stripes to represent the chiefs' azure?

  2. I really do not believe that they were using the vertical stripes to represent gules; I think they were just trying to make the red and white stripes look different without being able to use color. I suspect that they did not even know about the Petra Sancta method, and so didn't use anything for "blue" and used the vertical stripes for "white" (instead of "red").