Monday, October 29, 2012

Heraldry in Maastricht, Part Two and a Half

The trouble with taking, say, a thousand or so photographs over the course of a week is that, well, it's sometimes hard to remember to include all of the various pictures of, say, a city's coat of arms and include them in the original post.  Or in this case, posts.

In gathering and preparing the photographs of the arms of the city of Maastricht, I had forgotten (temporarily) one of the most wonderful examples.

This stained glass window is one of a number of armorial windows in the main hall of the city's train station.  (I'll cover the others in a separate post later.)  The arms of the city, supported by the angel, with a view of the city along the River Maas (in French, Meuse) beneath it.  Isn't it spectacular?

I'd missed including this window in the last post of uses of the city's arms in and about the city partly because I had labeled that day's photographs "Maastricht to Heidelberg," that being the day we left The Netherlands and traveled to Germany.  So it was in a folder somewhat apart from all of the other photos that I'd taken in Maastricht, and I had accidentally overlooked it when compiling pictures for that post.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Heraldry in Maastricht, Part One and a Half

Yes, I know, this would normally be "Heraldry in Maastricht, Part Three," but I discovered as I was going through my photos to select some for the next post that I had missed one of the representations of the city's coat of arms in the Stadhuis.  So this photo, below, would have been included in Part One, but I missed it, and am sharing it now.  Hence, "Part One and a Half."

Isn't this a great three-dimensional representation of the city's arms?  This, too, is from the ceiling inside the main lobby of the Stadhuis.

Maybe I could do something like this with my own arms in my home office.  (For what my office looks like now, you can go to  Don't you think my arms in white plaster make a nice addition?)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Heraldry in Maastricht, Part Two

Having looked at the City of Maastricht's coat of arms on and in the Stadhuis, the town hall on the market square, now we'll see how the city's arms show up in other, less official, contexts about the city.

The city's arms (Gules a mullet argent) on a street, to be all lit up at night.

And here (though with the star as a mere outline) on the pediment of a building just off another square.

Here, on the side of what is now a museum, but used to be an international banking house.
(We'll look at all of the arms on the exterior of this building in a later post.)

This was an interesting one, inset into the side of a building.

And on the flags at each side here, along with a regional and national flag.

You also find the arms being used to attract the eye, and in this case, diners.  The arms and supporter on a restaurant.

And here, just the arms (twice!) on another restaurant.

And for the tourist trade, in the window of a shop.
(The star is simply cut out from the red shield here.)
Below the shield is some framed sheet music, with words, to Mestreechs Volksleed.

It was really nice to see a city, and its residents, really utilizing the city's coat of arms, especially one as simple as this.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Heraldry in Maastricht, Part One

Well, we've gotten back from the XXX International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences held in Maastricht, The Netherlands, in September and I'm finally getting the time to start going through the photos I took while we were there.  (The nice thing about having gone from film to a digital camera is that I can take lots and lots of photos.  The bad thing about having gone from film to a digital camera is that I can take lots and lots of photos.  So there's a lot more to go through now to select the better ones to share.)

There was, of course, a whole lot of heraldry to be seen in Maastricht as well as the other cities we visited: a day trip to Aachen during the Congress and a few days in Heidelberg following it.

For those of you who don't know where it is, Maastricht is tucked way down in the southwestern part of The Netherlands, in a little "peninsula" of land tucked in between Belgium and Germany.  The city's coat of arms is a wonderfully simple one: Gules a mullet argent, with a single white angel as a supporter.

The following pictures of the arms (in various forms) were at the Stadhuis, the city's old town hall, built in the 17th Century, both outside and inside.


An overview of the exterior, with flags of the arms flying from the tower and on the right.

The city's arms on the pediment over the main entrance.

And on the main gate leading to the main entrance.

The angel supporter bearing the star on a weathervane atop the tower.

The city's arms on the main entrance doors.

In a stained glass window.
(We'll do more heraldry from the Basilica of St. Servaas later.)

And this lovely piece is painted on the ceiling in the main hall of the Stadhuis.

Next time, we'll look at other uses of the Maastricht's arms here and there about the city.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Couple of Heraldic Quotes

“What is it that induceth you, what stirs you up to believe, or who told you that white signifieth faith, and blue constancy? An old paltry book, say you, sold by the hawking pedlars and balladmongers, entitled The Blason of Colours. Who made it? Whoever it was, he was wise in that he did not set his name to it. But, besides, I know not what I should rather admire in him, his presumption or his sottishness. His presumption and overweening, for that he should without reason, without cause, or without any appearance of truth, have dared to prescribe, by his private authority, what things should be denotated and signified by the colour: which is the custom of tyrants, who will have their will to bear sway in stead of equity, and not of the wise and learned, who with the evidence of reason satisfy their readers. His sottishness and want of spirit, in that he thought that, without any other demonstration or sufficient argument, the world would be pleased to make his blockish and ridiculous impositions the rule of their devices.” - Rabelais

And from Lowe's Curiosities of Heraldry: “It does not seem to have occured to these allegorizing worthies that the tincture of a charge may be diametrically opposed to the signification assigned to the charge itself. For example, the coat ‘Vert, a bull's head or’ by the armilogical rules cited above, would signify, as to the tinctures, pleasure and joy, while as to the charge it would mean rage and fury. Again, ‘Purpure, a wolf argent’ would mean ‘a wrangler with a peacable disposition!!’”

Thursday, October 11, 2012

An Interesting Heraldic Website

And one which, when they say “family crest,” they actually mean the crest, and not the coat of arms.

I was pointed to this website by a short article in the most recent Heraldry Gazette from the Heraldry Society of England, which talked about the website, My Family Silver,

If you click on “Family Crest Finder” (at the upper right hand button on their main page), that takes you to:

Here you can search for crests by a specific family name. (I tried three different surnames from my family tree before I got a hit - a lot of non-armigerous yeomen in the old family tree, I guess - and then there were too many; 46 different families surnamed “Warren.” There were also four different Appletons, three elephant heads and one bunch of pineapples, to none of whom am I related, but I wanted to try it just for grins.) You can also browse by family names.

They have compiled their database from a number of sources, including:

Fairbairn’s Book of Crests (1905 ed.)
America Heraldica by E. de V. Vermont (1886 ed.)
Crests of the Colonial Gentry by Knight and Butler
Armorial Families by A.C. Fox-Davies (1929 ed.)
Burke’s Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry (1939 ed.)
Burke’s Peerage, Baronetage, and Gentry

There does not appear to be a way of searching for a specific crest without having the surname. Which is, alas, usually the way I have to try to track such things down.

They also have a blog: which may contain posts of interest to heraldry enthusiasts, although their emphasis is, naturally enough, on crested silver.

All in all, it’s a well-done and interesting site and of especial interest, perhaps, to folks with a bit of extra spending money sitting around who’d like to buy silver or glass items with their family crest on them. (Now if I could just find my crest on their website, my budget might be in serious danger!)

Monday, October 8, 2012

An Old Controversy Refuses to Die

John Tepper Marlin has recently published a column over at The Huffington Post entitled "Washington's Arms and the Stars and Stripes -- Believe!"  In it he brings up the old saw that the flag of the United States, the "Stars and Stripes," was based on the family arms of George Washington (Argent, two bars and in chief three mullets gules).  (The image here is from one of his bookplates.)

This is something that has cropped up many times in the past, and frankly, I just don't quite see the relationship between the two.  Yes, they both have red and white in them; yes, they both have stars.  But two red stripes on a white field is not 13 red and white stripes, and three red stars is not 13 white stars; and where did the blue of the flag come from?  Certainly not Washington's arms, which have no blue in them.

Anyway, I wrote the following comment on the article, which you may read (along with the entirety of Mr. Marlin's column) at

If you don't choose to read the entire thing, here's what I said:

To simply accept that the flag of the United States was somehow an homage to George Washington and his personal arms is to ignore the earlier striped flags used by American forces. The first Navy jack (1775) consisted of 13 red and white horizontal stripes. Some of these jacks may have had an uncoiled rattlesnake and the legend "Don't tread on me" on them. Later (1775-1776), the Grand Union flag consisted of 13 red and white stripes with a canton of the union flag of Great Britain was used by American forces. It was not until the Flag Act of 1777 that the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew on the Grand Union flag were replaced in the canton by 13 white stars on the blue canton. Given the use of these earlier flags, I really don't see a strong connection with the coat of arms of George Washington at all. Indeed, the flag seems to me to be a logical evolution from the even earlier Red Ensign and White Ensign used by the British fleets to the flag of the new nation, without requiring a vague resemblance between a white ground with two red horizontal stripes and three red stars to explain its origins. Further, if it was to be an homage to Washington, why use blue at all, or change the color of the stars from red to white?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Heraldry in the Blogosphere

There was a neat post recently about some Royal heraldry over on Philip Wilkinson's blog English Buildings.  The particular building he was highlighting that day was a shop front near Pulteney Bridge in the City of Bath.  What caught his attention was the coat of arms over the shop window.

As he notes, the arms are those of "Queen Charlotte, consort of George III, who visited Bath in 1817, the year before she died. ... The highly complex heraldry combines the arms of the British royal family [to dexter, on the left-hand side as the viewer sees it] with those of her father, who was Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz [to sinister, on the right]. The amount of detail on these three-dimensional arms is staggering – all those harps, bulls' heads, fleurs de lys and so on in low relief, and the extraordinary garland of flowers around the central panel. The lion and unicorn are real characters, the former astonished, long-maned and well fanged, the latter realistically equine."

It's always a pleasure to see someone take pleasure in a well-done achievement of arms.  Especially when he's sharing them with the rest of the world.  (And it is an amazing bit of heraldic work!)

You can read the full post over on English Buildings at:

Monday, October 1, 2012

It Never Rains ...

... but it pours.

In this case, it's a matter of Tee Fury (which has a new tee shirt design every day offered at, just as Woot Shirt! does) going for weeks at a time without an heraldic design, and then -- poof! -- here comes one, hot on the heels, as it were, of the one the other day from Woot Shirt!

In any case, this most recent offering of heraldry (of a sort) is entitled Adventurer's Crest, and is an homage to that intrepid cinematic archaeologist, Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr., better known as "Indiana Jones."

The coat of arms has four quarters, each containing a key item from one of the four Indiana Jones movies: in the first quarter, the Ark of the Covenant; in the second quarter, the three sivalinga stones central to the story line; in the third quarter, the Holy Grail; and in the fourth, a crystal skull.  All along with machetes, revolvers, his trusty bullwhip, and topped, of course, with his trademark fedora.

All in all, it's a pretty interesting tee shirt design (however much it might not be considered to be good heraldry!), and it's just the thing for the heraldry enthusiast who is also an Indiana Jones fan.