Thursday, August 30, 2012

Heraldry in the New "Tournament" Field

A recent (August 12, 2012) article in the Art & Design section of The New York Times did a comparison between the logos of modern British football clubs (what we here in the States would call "soccer teams") and the insignia (heraldry) of medieval knights.  Among several of the logos specifically mentioned were those of:

Manchester United, and

Liverpool FC.

I won't even try to summarize the article for you; it's a long one to include in a blog post and besides, why should I repeat something that you can go read for yourself simply by clicking the link below?

Anyway, I thought it was an interesting article about a topic not often reported on this side of the Atlantic, and thought I'd share it with you.  It's entitled "The British Knights of Soccer" by Alice Rawsthorn and can be found on-line at:

And just to that you don't have to look it up separately, here's Ms. Rawsthorn's favorite, Southampton FC.

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Links Added

During the course of an exchange of emails with Maria Dering of the NYC Heraldry blog where we were talking about links to other heraldic blogs, I realized that while I've been researching blogs about heraldry for a little while now in preparation for a presentation about heraldry on the internet, I hadn't been adding any of the new ones I've found to my "Other Blogs of Heraldic Interest" section down in the left-hand column on this blog.

I've corrected that situation now, and you'll find a whole bunch of new links there.  Feel free to check any and all of them out, and if you like what you see, be sure to drop a note to the author and let them know.

I've also added a new widget (apparently, that's some kind of a technical blogging term, not unlike some of the arcane terms of heraldry, like "heraldic frou-frou") to that column.  This widget lists (and links to) the most popular posts on this blog.  It was interesting to me to see which posts of the 400+ ones I've written (so far) were read the most.  It's quite an eclectic collection.  (Though I must say that I'm just happy that anyone reads any of them!)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Am Flattered

I was checking out the White Shield page on Facebook the other day (if you haven't run across the White Shield on Facebook, it's always worth visiting if you have an interest in heraldry and heraldic art), and ran across this posting.

I will admit, I am flattered by the praise.  I don't know how much I deserve it, but I learned a very long time ago that a person is not the best judge of his or her own works.  And I do try to have interesting and/or informative content on this blog, but with all of the other really good heraldic blogs out there, well, again, I'm not the best judge of my own work as compared to that of others.

So, thank you for the accolade.  I will try to be worthy of it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Answering a Ten-Year-Old Question

A full decade ago (gosh, has it really been that long?), back in 2002, I gave a presentation entitled  New Directions in Heraldry (subtitled “But there really is ‘nothing new under the sun’”).  (If you'd like to read it, a copy of this presentation, with illustrations, can be found on-line at:

When I wrote that paper, it was not my intention to necessarily lend support to any of the “new directions” of which I spoke; I was merely trying to document a long-standing  trend that I saw.  My interest in the topic had been aroused because of some of the on-line discussions occurring at the time which were very much opposed to some of the new “innovations” being introduced into heraldry by one heraldic authority or another.  You know, radical stuff like modern charges, new complex lines of division, and even (horrors!) new tinctures.  It was then, and remains today, my belief that heraldry from its inception has regularly opened itself to new things like these, and that the innovations being written against (by some, not by all) were really nothing “new.”

In a conversation following that presentation, I was approached by an individual who seemed to believe that I was espousing the introduction of such innovations I mentioned in my talk.  During that conversation I did note, as an example, that I thought perhaps that sufficient time had passed since its invention to allow heralds to define a more or less standard “heraldic” locomotive.  His immediate response was, “Why can’t they just use a wheel?” (to keep whatever symbolism was being sought for in the design).  A third party joined the conversation at this point, and I never did get around to answer the question.

My short answer, however, would have been something along the lines of, “Perhaps because they didn’t want to.”  A longer answer would have included the fact that heraldry is not a static art (the main point of my presentation, after all); it has always added new charges, and many of these are now accepted without even a question as to their propriety for use in coats of arms.  Someone wants a scimitar?  “Why can’t they just use a [regular] sword?”  Someone wants to use purple?  “Why can’t they just use gules [red]?”  And how many different variations of ermine do we need in  heraldry, really?  Even going way back, we have ermine, ermines [or, counter-ermine], erminois, pean, erminites.  “Why can’t they just use ermine?”

I don’t think that heraldry should immediately adopt every new object or tincture or idea for such that comes along.  (I have, for example, some very strong reservations about “rainbow” as a tincture.*)  But I believe that when an object has been around long enough to have acquired a comparatively distinctive, identifiable shape, the fact that it has not appeared in heraldry before now should not be a bar to its entry into the heraldic lexicon.

So, copper as a new metal?  Sure, why not?  Chinese dragons?  You bet.  An art that has introduced purpure [purple] and unicorns in its past should be able to include these newer items without causing the heraldic world to shake from its foundations and fall.  And to me, this ability to innovate, to change somewhat with the times, is part of the appeal, and longevity, of this art that we call heraldry.

* No, really.  It’s been suggested.  And here’s an example, Ermine a wyvern erect rainbow:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Heraldry in the Streets

Another coat of arms that can be found on the Titche-Goettinger Building, of which building I spoke on this blog recently, in downtown Dallas is the arms of Spain, or at least, the quartered arms of Castile and León.

Overall, I find the design interesting, in that it can be taken as a comparatively simple shield (of Castile and León) on one of those florid shield shapes where parts of the edges are formed into rolls, a style popular in the 16th Century, which is placed on a shield shaped like a chamfron (horse head armor) popular in Italy in the 16th Century, itself placed on another one of those florid “scroll-ly” shields.  (The styles are dated according to the chart of shield shapes in Ottfried Neubecker’s Heraldry: Sources, Symbols and Meaning.)

Why Spain, on the streets of Dallas?  Well, because, of course, what is now Texas was originally claimed by Spain, before it was claimed by France, and later by Mexico, prior to becoming an independent republic.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A New Form of Heraldic Display

Wandering about on the internet the other day, I ran across a website that uses cut and folded paper to create free-standing coats of arms.  It’s entitled Welcome to Mariví’s Heraldry, and can be found in English at (The Spanish version is at

The picture here (from his site) is of his own family’s arms, Or a bend gules engoulé vert between two wolves passant sable all within a bordure gules semy of saltires couped or.

He has downloadable patterns and instructions for several different coats of arms on the site.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this method of doing a coat of arms before, and find it fascinating.  Hence, I pass this information on to you, in the hopes that you might find it interesting, as well.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Heraldry in the Streets

I was driving home from work the other day and saw a “coat of arms” style logo in the back window of the car in front of me.  Not having my camera with me (I generally don’t take it to work with me, which sometimes costs me a photo opportunity, but there you go) and saw the shield logo of USA Swimming.

When I got home, I looked them up on the internet, and found a (smaller) version of their logo on-line.

I find the logo interesting because it’s both based, albeit loosely, on the arms of the United States (Paly of thirteen argent and gules, a chief azure) but is also done so that the lower half of the shield looks like the lanes marked out in a competition swimming pool with the engrailed line of division just below the fess line representing waves of water.

As heraldry, I don’t think it’s the best design, but as a logo I actually think it’s pretty effective.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Heraldry in the News!

Many of you may have already seen one or another news story on this item, but for the one or two of you who may not have heard of it yet, two researchers at Queen Mary’s School of History at the University of London who are working on the Borromei Bank Research Project, which is documenting the activity of Italian merchant bankers operating from London in the late medieval period, found some banking records (dated 1422-24) half-covered by coats of arms (estimated to have been painted in 1480).  The manuscript was found in a bound collection at the College of Arms in London.

Such accounting books were normally sent back to the headquarters of the merchant-banking company, Domenicio Villani & Partners, in Florence.  Dr. Francesco Guidi-Bruscoli states that, “In this case, the books remained in London, where they gradually lost their documentary value and some 55 years later were considered scraps of good quality paper to be re-used for the drawing of coats of arms.”

Thrifty heralds, recycling paper 500 years before it became popular everywhere else.

The full story can be found on-line at:

and at:

and as far away as India at:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Follow-Up

I had posted November 10, 2011 about the heraldic embroidery work of Willem van Osnabrugge and the project he was then working on for the Peace Palace in The Hague (  I recently received an email from him, letting me know that his work there has been completed.  And, I might add, his work looks very nice!

He also included a URL with a slideshow (near the bottom of the page) showing the steps he went through to do the arms of Austria-Hungary (as an example of the process for all of them).

You might want to drop by and see it.  You can find it at:

And, of course, if you really like his work, drop him a line and say so.