The alphabet is one set of arbitrary symbols. The figures of heraldry are another set of arbitrary symbols. In the fourteenth century every gentleman knew one: in the twentieth century every gentleman knows the other. The first gentleman was just precisely as ignorant for not knowing that c-a-t spells "cat," as the second gentleman is for not knowing that a St. Andrew's Cross is called a cross saltire, or that vert on gules is bad heraldry. -- G.K. Chesterson
I'm an Academic Herald. I'm not a "real" herald; I don't register people's coats of arms (though I can certainly suggest designs for those who might be interested). What I do is study, research, teach, and write about heraldry. And I like to share what I have learned about heraldry, hence this blog. I hope that you'll find it informative, interesting at least occasionally, and worth your time to come back. Got a question? Comments? Feel free to let me know. I'd love to hear from you. You can find my contact information in my Profile.
This is what happens when an heraldic artist has never seen anything more than a very rough description of an heraldic beast when painting ...
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Thursday, June 7, 2012
“Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!”
Oh, dear. As if there aren’t enough others out there already, I recently ran across a press announcement that the website Irish Blessings now has “a new search utility for looking up an Irish coat of arms, making it easier than ever to find a coat of arms to match a specific Irish surname.” Plus, after you’ve found “the” coat of arms for your Irish surname, they’ve got just the stuff bearing that coat of arms that they can sell you!
Never mind that there may be more than one, sometimes many more than one, coat of arms borne by individuals with that surname. Never mind that just because you have that same surname, that alone does not give you any legitimate right to bear that particular piece of heraldry. Never mind that they call a coat of arms a “crest” indiscriminately.
But I have to draw the line somewhere, and here it is: “Once part of a warrior's defensive armor, the Family Coat of Arms Shield Plaque is now a historical monument for your wall, emblazoned with your Irish family's coat of arms and family name. The walnut stained wood plaque and brass plate with the Irish family crest is confirmed by over a decade of research by heraldry experts.” Really?? “Over a decade of research by heraldry experts”? All the "research" and expertise it takes is to pay about US$2,500 to buy a database of arms that will let you type in a surname and print out a picture of the coat of arms associated (in the database) with that surname.
I say it’s a bucket shop,* and I say the hell with it. (And no, I’m not going to put a link to their website on this blog.)
* “An heraldic bucket shop is a heraldry company that will ‘sell’ a coat of arms associated with the customer's surname, regardless of whether the customer can actually claim a relation to the original armiger.” (Wikipedia, cf. “Bucket Shop (heraldry)”).