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.

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