Thursday, September 27, 2012

Long Live the King!

No, really!  That's the title of a recent tee shirt over at ShirtWoot!  And, as you can see, it's heraldic.  Sort of.

Anyway, I thought it was neat to have an heraldic achievement as an homage to the king of the dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and just had to share it with you!

(I'll admit, I was somewhat tempted to buy one for my personal heraldic tee shirt collection, but frankly, I'm starting to run out of room in my heraldic tee drawer.  I'm gonna have to get some more drawer space somehow!)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Heraldry on the Internet

There’s a Facebook group that some of you may already know about; it’s called the Heraldry Hall of Shame and posters to the group will put up pictures of what they consider to be really poor coats of arms.  (You can find the Heraldry Hall of Shame on Facebook at  A recent poster there put up the “Particularly ghastly arms of Vermont.”

Now, I’ll admit that they’re not the best heraldic composition in the world by any means.  But I’m not sure that they can really be called “ghastly,” either.  Indeed, they’re pretty typical of much landscape heraldry from the era in which they were designed.  (And it is even possible to have a bit of fun with them, at least until you get caught, as I noted in this post:

And really, are they any worse than this coat of arms, from a near neighbor, the State of Maine?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Heraldry in the News!

A September 8, 2012 article on the website of the newspaper the Reading Eagle of Reading, Pennsylvania, takes a look at, as the title notes, the "Municipal logos, seals and coats of arms in Berks County: Plain or fancy, all speak to something unique."

It's a nice, albeit brief, review of the logos -- heraldic and otherwise -- of some of the cities and towns in Berks County, Pennsylvania, with photographs of some of them, including this one, which describes the various parts of the achievement of arms of the City of Reading.

A lot of time and space (and pictures) of the article is spent on the symbol of the Township of Cumru, which has, of course, adopted the premier emblem of its namesake, Cymru (Wales), the dragon passant gules from the Welsh flag.  The township uses the dragon everywhere as part of its  branding; township staff often joke that if something moves, they'll slap a red dragon on it!

In any case, all in all it's a decent article about the heraldry (and other symbols) used in a county in Pennsylvania.  You can read the full article on-line at:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ex Fructibus

There's a nice article about heraldic mottoes from August 25, 2012, over the on the website of Canada's National Post entitled "Words to live by (or at least to have translated into Latin)" by Jane Macdougall.  Included with the article is a rendition of the arms of Governor-General David Johnston along with his motto, Contemplare meliora, or "To envisage a better world."

I could repeat a lot of what Ms. Macdougall says, but what would be the point?  I'd just be copying her words.  Why not go read them for yourself?  You can find the full article at:


Oh, and the title of this post?  It's a short version of my own motto, which in full is: Ex fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos, roughly, By their fruits shall you know them.  It's a play off my surname (Appleton), as well as the three apples on the coat of arms and apple tree for a crest.  That's one of the fun things about being a herald of sorts, you get to play around with your own heraldry and getting all of the pieces to work together.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Armorials, Ordinaries, and Emblazons, Oh My!

I've been very busy lately, working on a presentation I'm giving later this month (entitled "Heraldry on the Digital Frontier," if you must know), and some of the research for it has involved revisiting a number of websites that I don't get around to very often.  But a little research on the Internet Text Archive site (some of which duplicates good old Google books) has reminded me of some of the great heraldic stuff that's available to heraldry enthusiasts on the internet.

I've long known (and downloaded, and referred to pretty regularly) Burke's General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales and Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials, as well as some American armorials, Crozier's General Armory and Matthews' American Armory and Blue Book.  (Yes, I have hard bound copies of these that I often use, as well, partly because sometimes it's faster to thumb through paper pages than to navigate through a large .pdf file.)  And they're convenient to use, since I can carry them about with me on a flash drive that takes up very little room - or weight - especially compared to the books, and I can use them just about anywhere I might be at the time.

But I digress.

Something that I don't always remember is that there are other large armorials and ordinaries out there which have also been digitized and available for reading on or downloading from the internet.  I've had a copy of J.-B. Rietstap's Armorial Général for some time now, but I had forgotten that Renesse's Dictinonaire des figures héraldiques, an ordinary of Rietstap's armorial, is also out there.  (It's in several volumes, but is invaluable if you have a coat of arms which may appear in Rietstap but you don't have a surname to look it up.)  You can find both Rietstap and Renesse by going to the Internet Text Archive ( and searching for "Rietstap."  (The website also has all of the blazons from Rietstap on-line in .html format, at if you are interested in looking them up on-line.)

Google Books ( says it has digitized Rolland and Rolland's Illustrations to the Armorial Général, which contains, as you might expect from the title, emblazons, drawings, of all of the coats of arms in Rietstap.  Unfortunately for us, the editions that have been scanned are still under copyright, so the best we can get from Google Books is a "snippet view" of parts of a few pages rather than the opportunity to read or download the entire set of books.

Still and all, having been reminded of all of these resources available - and free! - on the internet, I thought I'd pass this information along to you, in case you hadn't run across these volumes on the web before, or you had but didn't remember where.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Heraldry in the News!

An article in My Town Crier dated August 22, 2012, is a brief look at Donald Black of Don Valley Village in Canada, a former attorney who now carves coats of arms as a hobby. (Large coats of arms; the heraldic panels with him in the photographs in the article appear to be about 4' x 4'.)

He says that some of his favorite pieces include those he has done for Osgoode Hall, Upper Canada College and the personal coat of arms he carved for former governor general Michaëlle Jean.  That piece is now displayed in a public school in Ottawa bearing her name.  “She said it was so impressive it would just be a shame if she kept it in her home,” he said. “She felt it should be on public display.”  The rendition just below of Ms. Jean’s coat of arms can be found in the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges on the website of the Canadian Heraldic Authority at:

He clearly does some very nice work!  The full article about Mr. Black and his heraldic carvings, entitled “Hand carving coats-of-arms is his passion,” can be found on-line at:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Heraldic Change in the News!

According to a couple of recent articles (August 17 and 21, 2012) in The Canberra Times, the Australian Republic Movement is asking the people of the Australian Capital Territory, containing the continent's  capital city of Canberra,  whether they want to keep the Territory’s current coat of arms or overhaul it to mark the city's centenary next year.

At least some members of the movement seem to believe that there are way too many symbols of England, and English rulers, on the armory; indeed, one supporter stated that the arms incorporate “old-world, aristocratic imagery of crowns, castles, swords and maces.”  On the other hand, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said that she was unaware of any groundswell of public support for a change in the arms, while noting that a ''community conversation … could uncover a mood for symbolic change''.

The second article also has a nice section near the end where the designer of the current arms, quoted from an essay in the Sydney Morning Herald in May 1929, talks about his thought processes in the design, especially how he came up with the idea for the two swan supporters to represent aboriginal Australians and English colonists there.

It’s a nice couple of articles about some of the reasons whether or not an armorial entity should change its heraldry to better conform with its own ideas about itself and its people.  Both articles can be found on-line at:

Monday, September 3, 2012

Heraldry in the Air

I don't know why I hadn't seen these before.  I mean, Southwest Airlines is based here in Dallas, Texas.  And they've always had a bit of "flair" in how they run their business and how they decorate their aircraft.  And I'd seen a couple of these uniquely painted planes before: the one (well, apparently, there's actually three of them) painted to look like Shamu, the orca, or killer whale; and the one painted as the Texas flag.  But the other day, I ran across some photos of some other Southwest planes, of a more heraldic nature.

While the airline seems to be sticking with the motif of state flags (of some of the states which they service), the flags of some states here in the United States can be heraldic.  For example,

the State of Maryland, whose flag is the arms of the Calverts, Lords Baltimore, who founded the then colony.  (The state seal also features the Calvert arms, which consist of the quartered arms of Calvert, Paly or and sable, a bend counterchange, and Crossland, Quarterly argent and gules, a cross bottony counterchanged.)

Another plane has the flag of the State of New Mexico, with a red stylized sun symbol, also looking (and acting) heraldic.

They also have Arizona, Florida, California, Nevada, and Illinois in addition to the others already noted above.  Information about Florida and the rest of their "Specialty Fleet" can be found on-line at:

So if you find yourself near an airport serviced by Southwest Airlines, you might keep an eye out for one of these aircraft.  You could be rewarded by seeing some flying heraldry!