Monday, December 30, 2013

Once Again ...

... I have found it to be true: "You can find heraldry everywhere!"

In this specific instance, I had taken my lunch time and left the office where I work to walk to a nearby shopping center to see if I could find a couple of Christmas gifts for some family members.  And on my way, I passed a new hamburger joint that had recently opened.  (The Hopdoddy Burger Bar if you must know.  I haven't tried their burgers yet, but I may have to before long.)  And on some large panels covering part of the building, interspersed with the name of the Burger Bar and with its logo were this arms-like logo:

By way of some explanation, though the location of this shopping center is a little north of downtown Dallas, it is not "in" Dallas, but in one of two "island" cities (so-called because they are completely surrounded by the City of Dallas) often referred to as the "Park Cities," Highland Park and University Park.

As a logo it is, I suppose, reasonably distinctive.  As heraldry, it has some problems.  I would blazon the "coat of arms" here as Quarterly, 1, Argent three bars Sable, 2 and 3, Argent plain, and 4, Argent three pallets Sable.  (The red banner with the words "Park Cities" is, in my opinion, external to the shield and thus not really a part of the arms.  Though I could, and I know of others who might, argue otherwise.)

In any case, I found this another example of being able to find heraldry, or heraldry-like depictions, everywhere, even while walking down the sidewalk on my way to someplace that had nothing to do with heraldry.  And how cool is that?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Oh, My!

 Just in time for Christmas!  The Gallo Family Vineyards of offering their free on-line "Crest Creator."  Now you, too, can go to their website and create - to download or to share - a "family crest" for your family.

Using a wide selection of shield shapes and backgrounds, charges of various types, and so on, you can design a "crest" for your own family,  complete with a motto (the limit on the template I selected is ten letters, including spaces and punctuation, hence the lack of an exclamation mark at the end) like the one I did here.
Pretty awful, huh?  (The flamingos are a long-running bit between my late father and a friend of his.  I just couldn't resist using them as supporters when the opportunity reared its ugly pink head.)

Still and all, it can be a fun little game to play around with.  And it's free.  And best of all, it's not really heraldry.

Feel free to drop by and spend a few moments taking this hobby a little less seriously than usual.  You can find the Gallo Family Vineyards' "Crest Creator" on-line at

Monday, December 23, 2013

New Heraldry in the News!

The town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has unveiled its new coat of arms recently, on the 200th anniversary of the razing of the town by American forces during the War of 1812.  (I remember, years ago - we won't discuss just how many years ago - driving through Canada on our way from Michigan to Massachusetts and seeing a brochure depicting the burning of a town - possibly this one - by American forces during the War of 1812, and noticed that the Americans portrayed in it seemed to be wild-eyed and all had sharpened pointy teeth!)

The arms, though too new to appear yet in the on-line Public Register of the Canadian Heraldic Authority, appear on the flag which was granted the town at the same time.

It is a beautifully simple coat of arms, and I have to commend both the town and the Canadian Heraldic Authority for the design.  (Though I know a few individuals who will probably quibble about the use of fimbriation outlining the bend to avoid the use of color on color.)

You can read more about the unveiling of the arms and flag by the Right Rev. Ralph Spence, Niagara Herald Extraordinary, as well as get a good idea of what the full achievement of arms looks like from the explanations of the various elements of it in the "Fact Box" with the article, on-line at the website of the Niagara Advance at

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Heraldic News on Facebook

Chief Herald of Canada Dr. Claire Boudreau posted this announcement on Facebook on Tuesday about the milestone reached by the Canadian Heraldic Authority:

As Chief Herald, I am delighted to announce that the entire Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada is now available online, with the launch of the first 200 pages of Volume VI, which were preceded this past summer by the earliest volumes of the Public Register. From now on, as the Register grows with time, its online version will be updated twice a year. To have the online Register up-to-date has been a long-term goal of the heralds, and it is fitting that this achievement has transpired during the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Canadian Heraldic Authority. I send my warmest congratulations to all who have made this possible.

You can access pages 2-200 of Volume VI at:

And, of course, the entire Public Register can be consulted from:

I think congratulations are in order for all of those who have worked so long and so hard to make this idea - that of a truly "public" heraldic register - become a reality.

Monday, December 16, 2013

They Paid How Much?

Well, it seems to me that I am definitely in the wrong business.  I mean, I enjoy what I do and all with heraldry, but it doesn't really even begin to cover what my heraldry books alone cost me.  So when I read this story that a reader of this blog had forwarded to me, I immediately came to the conclusion that I'm not doing it right, or at least not as remuneratively as I could.

It seems that the University of New Hampshire, like so many other educational institutions these days, decided that they needed a new logo with which to brand themselves.  Gotta keep up with the times, don't you know?  And, like to many other educational institutions, apparently they wanted something that reminded them of heraldry.

But instead of talking to anyone who knew about heraldry (and the American College of Heraldry, as only one example, still only charges $325 to help design and register - with the American College of Healdry - a coat of arms), they instead decided to go to a New York City design firm to get their new logo.  And they ended up with this.

And what did they pay for this logo?  US$65,000.00.

So, as I say, I seem to be in the wrong business.  I would have been happy to design them something more appropriately heraldic for a couple of thousand dollars, and would have considered myself more than justly compensated for the trouble.  But, really, $65,000?  Wow.  Just, wow.

And, of course, not everyone is happy that it's on a shield shape.  Allison Wood, a sophomore at UNH, is quoted as saying that, "I don't know why they went with a shield. It's got an older look to it."  And Jess Snowdon, another sophomore, said: "It looks a little old-fashioned."  Maybe the University should consider a freshman course in "The Timelessness of Heraldry and Heraldic Design" or something similar, because their sophomores don't seem to understand the difference between classic design and something that is "old-fashioned."  (Or maybe it's me that's old-fashioned.  No, that couldn't be it.  At all.)

Anyway, if you'd like to read the article, it is quoted in part on the blog College Insurrection at or can be read in its entirety on the website of the New Hampshire Union Leader at

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Another On-Line Armorial

Someone on one of the heraldic forums I occasionally lurk in pointed out an on-line armorial that I hadn't seen before.  It is the Heraldic Register of the Vlaamse Heraldische Raad (Flemish Heraldry Council).  (This is their coat of arms here.)

The Register is a searchable one consisting of 41 pages of registrations, illustrated and with blazons (in Flemish).

The blazons have some features not always found in English armorials. Each one stipulates the pattern of the helmet (if there is one), including the color of the lining; the color of the strap by which the shield hangs from the helmet; and the tinctures of the motto scroll and the lettering on it.  

I've added this site to the list of On-Line Armorials in the left-hand column of this blog under the name "Heraldic Register of the Vlaamse Heraldische Raad", or you can visit it now by clicking on this link:


Monday, December 9, 2013

Once Again, Finding Heraldry Everywhere!

Once again, I have found some more heraldry without even trying to look for it.

In this specific instance, it was on the letterhead of a letter which was mailed to one of the attorneys at the law firm I work for (hey, I've got to support my heraldic book habit somehow!) and, naturally enough, it caught my eye.

This is the "coat of arms" at the top of the letterhead of the Dallas, Texas law firm of Shamoun & Norman, LLP.  They also have it with their name surrounding it.  And, of course, it can also be found used on their website.

I'm not really sure why the bear.  I mean, they also use a picture of a bear on their website ( ...

... but they also have photos of a flying eagle and a stag ("at gaze," as we would blazon it), so I guess I'm not really sure what message they're trying to send by using the bear passant on their shield logo.  I've never really associated a bear with being a guardian (except a mother bear watching over her cubs).

For those of you wondering about the "LLP" in their name and on the shield, “LLP” is lawyer-speak for “Limited Liability Partnership.”  The Free Dictionary (on-line) defines an LLP as “The Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) is essentially a general partnership in form, with one important difference. Unlike a general partnership, in which individual partners are liable for the partnership's debts and obligations, an LLP provides each of its individual partners protection against personal liability for certain partnership liabilities.”  So basically it's a lot like being a corporation (in limiting the liability of the owners) without having all the paperwork and associated fees to register as a corporation.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fun With Heraldry

It's always interesting to see people having some fun with heraldry.  I had run across an article a little while ago about Swatch CEO Nick Hayek and his vision for Swiss manufacturing.  (Basically, he'd like for commercial items to have at least 60% of the their parts and construction to be in Switzerland before having a "Made in Switzerland" label stamped on them.  "We show that Swiss Made has a value," Hayek says.  Not the most gripping of news stories, I know.)

But accompanying the Annual Report on which the article was based, and included in the article itself, were some humorous versions of the arms of the Swiss cantons.  For example, here's the one for Bern:

Which is, of course, a humorous take-off on the actual arms of Bern (just left of center in this postcard):

Or as shown in this, also humorous but in a different way, version from another old postcard:

I can't reproduce all of the arms here, but you can certainly go see them for yourself over at the website, at

If you enjoy heraldic humor, you'll find them well worth the look!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Flag in the News

Or maybe it isn't news so much as it is a statement of the status quo.

In this case, it was a notice in an article about the push in Scotland for its independence from the rest of Great Britain, and what would happen to the Union Flag* in that case.

And the College of Arms in London has said that "there are no plans to change the Union Flag if Scotland becomes an independent state."

So there you have it, the word, officially, from the arbiters of heraldry in the United Kingdom.  If Scotland chooses to secede from the Union, the Union Flag remains unchanged.

The article about this particular piece of vexillological information can be found on-line at the website of ITV at

* Yes, I know it is commonly referred to as the "Union Jack," but that may be a misnomer, as the term "jack" is generally limited to naval usage.  Yes, the Admiralty has said in a 1902 circular that "Their Lordships had decided that either name [Union Flag or Union Jack] could be used officially."  (Wikepedia, cf. "Union Jack")  Nevertheless, the term "Union Flag" is what was used in King Charles's 1634 proclamation, and you'd think that he would know better than anyone what it should be called.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Something To Be Thankful For

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, and I thought I would share a new find that I am thankful for on this day.

To be truthful, while I'm thankful for this particular find, I'm even more thankful to the
Bavarian State Library, which has been for several years now digitizing and uploading 16th and 17th Century heraldic books to make them available to people like me who likely would never even know they existed except for their being uploaded on-line.  So, a hearty Thank You! to the fine folks at the Bavarian State Library.

That being said, the specific book I'm thankful for today is the Hofkleiderbuch (Abbildung und Beschreibung der Hof-Livreen) des Herzogs Wilhelm IV. und Albrecht V. 1508-1551. Wappen mit Reimsprüchen des Holland. Abbildungen bayerischer Regenten - BSB Cgm 1952 (16th Century).  Bing translates the title as "Court dress book (illustration and description of court liveries) of Duke Wilhelm IV. and Albrecht V. 1508-1551. coat of arms with rhyming slogans of Holland. Pictures of Bavarian Regents".  Which is probably close enough to get a rough understanding of what it contains.

Which is a whole lot of stuff, including a page of heralds in their tabards.

Isn't that cool!  (Although the Bavarian herald in the lower right looks like he's about to use his trumpet or baton as a mace!)

Anyway, the entire book can be found, perused, paged through, and even downloaded as a .pdf to your hard drive, at

Enjoy!  And thank you Bayerische StaatsBibliothek!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Naval Heraldry in Norfolk

So, after making my way through the naval museum at Nauticus in Norfolk, Virginia, guess what I went to see next?

This is BB-64, the USS Wisconsin, an Iowa-class battleship, now decommissioned and acting as a living museum.

And you'll never guess (well, unless you are familiar with this blog) what I found there.  That's right, heraldry!  This was a painted coat of arms of the Wisconsin.

And here's a more "official" version that I found on-line of the same, well, not same, exactly, but similar, coat of arms.  I mean, the stars on the shield, the crest, and the motto are the same, as are the designators USS Wisconsin and BB64.  But really, did no one notice the difference between a propeller and a ship's wheel surmounted by the arms of the United States?  It seems to me that it would have been fairly obvious.  But what do I know?

And up on the side of the battleship was this bit of heraldry, for the Destroyer Cruiser Flotilla Eight.

And here's a patch with those arms (again, found on-line).

I've not seen anything yet that definitely places the Wisconsin as a part of that flotilla.  It's possible that she was, and it's also possible that the men of the flotilla are among the donors and supporters of the Wisconsin as a museum.

Either way, it's heraldry, which, as I have said so often, you can find everywhere!  In this case, sitting at a dock in Norfolk, Virginia.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Eastward, Ho! A Follow-Up

Having had the time to do a little more research into the naval heraldry noted in my last post, I feel pretty safe in identifying the ship from which that particular bow decoration came from as being the armored cruiser ACR-2 USS New York.  (The ACR-1, which was later designated as a second class battleship, was the USS Maine, of "Remember the ..." fame.)

My reasons for believing the arms belonged to the New York are several: first, the word "Excelcior" (which I believe is a misspelled "Excelsior"); second, the eagle over the shield; and finally, the two human figure "supporters" seen in profile on each side of the arms.  So why exactly does that make me think "New York"?  Well, this does: the arms of the State of New York.
See what I mean?  Compare this achievement with the external ornaments (or to use a different term, artistic "frou-frou") about the shield of the arms of the United States in my last post, below.

And here is a photograph of the New York, with the eagle showing quite prominently above the shield on the bow.

And here is another, taken from the starboard side.  If you click on the picture here, you should see the full-size version, where details of the bow decoration show up pretty well.

The New York was not, alas, a part of the Great White Fleet which circumnavigated the globe under President Theodore Roosevelt.  She did, however, have a long and active service, being at one time the flagship of the Pacific Fleet.

All in all, a really great piece of heraldry, and history, to have run across!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Eastward, Ho!

I had been asked once again to speak to the Virginia Beach Genealogy Society (this was my third time out there; they must really like me!) and found that, once again, you can find heraldry wherever you go.

In this specific instance, since I had all day before the presentation to "play tourist" and see the sight, I was visiting the Nauticus Maritime Museum in Norfolk.  It's a really great place to visit; they've got a lot to see (including BB64, the USS Wisconsin battleship, but more about that in another post), with a great series of exhibits that covers basically the history of the United States Navy from its founding until today.  Among a whole lot of other things, they've got a piece of the armor plating of the USS Monitor (on loan from the Mariner's Museum in Newport News), as well as a cannonball and the ship's bell from the Monitor's famous opponent, the CSS Virginia (an ironclad ship built on the hull of the former USS Merrimac).

But when I came to the section of the Museum dedicated to the Great White Fleet sent by President Theodore Roosevelt on a circumnavigation of the globe from December 1907 to February 1909, I ran across the following bit of heraldry:

It is, of course, the arms of the United States done in a really nice carving that decorated the prow of one of those pre-WWI warships.  You can see how it would have been mounted  on the ship based on the model below.

What a wonderful piece of heraldic carving, from the shield of the arms to the very fierce-looking eagle above to the scroll with the word "Excelcior" below, to the leafy foliage on each side as well as the human figures supporting the cartouche on which the arms are placed.

There is, as many of you will no doubt see for yourselves, an error in the arms, though.  Instead of being Paly [or for the purists out there, paleways] of thirteen Argent and Gules a chief Azure, the colors of the vertical stripes have been switched, making them Gules and Argent.  An easy enough mistake to make, I suppose, except perhaps for "us heralds."  I've certainly seen it often enough in renditions in various media of the national coat of arms.  At least they didn't put any stars on the chief, which is a even more common error, conflating as it does the national arms with the national flag.

But what a great piece of naval history, and heraldic art, to find while playing tourist!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Is There a Coat of Arms in Your Family?

One of the things that I get to do on a fairly regular basis that I really enjoy is to talk to others (mostly genealogists, but also folks from various lineage and patriotic societies) about my little hobby: Heraldry.

And almost inevitably, I'll get asked if I have a coat of arms in my own family.  I used to be able to remark that it was very disappointing, that none of my ancestors seemed to take note of the hobby of one of their descendants, and that no, for all the research that I'd done, I had not yet (and I always stressed that "yet") found a coat of arms used by any of my progenitors.

Well, then we went and spent a week in Massachusetts, looking at ancestral gravesites and historical sites and all that, and wouldn't you know, I found something that meant I could no longer use that story about no use of armory in my family.  It came about when I was visiting the table tomb of my 13th-great grandparents, John and Mary (Chilton) Winslow, in King's Chapel Burying Ground in Boston.

Which was all well and good, and it was a pleasure to be able to visit their memorial (and to buy an armorial tee shirt, bearing the arms of the Hanoverian kings of Great Britain, sold at the Chapel!), when around on one side of the table tomb (the side off to my left), this plaque:

These arms also appear in the Gore roll of arms (about which I have written before) as number 91, Joshua Winslow, a descendant of John's brother Edward.

Do I know if John Winslow used this coat of arms?  No, not for sure, I don't.  But his brother, Edward, the Governor of Plymouth Colony, did (most notably on the seal of his will in 1654), and as his younger brother, John would also have had the right to do so whether he did or didn't actually use them during his lifetime.

So I've had to change up my patter a little bit, and explain that while you may or may not immediately find a coat of arms used in your family, you should keep looking, because you just never know when you might run across one!

Monday, November 11, 2013

You Can't Always Believe Everything You See

Several years ago when I was doing research for my book on the Gore roll of arms (, I ran across the use of a coat of arms from that roll on a tombstone that demonstrated once again to me that you have to be careful about your assumptions when seeing or researching a coat of arms.

The use of this particular coat of arms was on a headstone in Copp's Hill Burying Ground in Boston.

While the arms carved on the headstone are those of Clark, as shown here in the second and third quarters of the inescutcheon taken from number 92 in the Gore roll, the arms of McAdams-Kilby-Clark ...

... and while the lower part of the stone gives some of the particulars of William Clark who is buried there, the most visible words on the stone are those along the bottom of the upper part, "No. 13 the Tomb of Samuel Winslow."

These same arms also appear on the stone of Johannis Clarke, also in Copp's Hill Burying Ground, where they are far less likely to be accidentally mistaken for those of a Winslow.

Both stones are beautifully carved and a pleasure to see, but the first one above serves as a warning to pay attention to everything on an armorial memorial; too quick a reading (and that's something that's easy to do when you've been walking all over central Boston looking at historical sites and armorial gravestones!) and you're likely to misidentify what you are looking at.  (Not that I have ever done that, of course!  Why, no, never.  Who, me?)

Just a word of warning to be cautious.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Website to Watch

It was the subtitle to the news story that caught my eye: "Project to open rare and valuable collection to the world is finally up and running."

"Rare and valuable collection?"  "Open ... to the world?"  What collection is this?  What's in it?  And, of course, the inevitable question, "Is there heraldry?"

Some of the answers, at least, appeared in the headline: "Digitizing history: 82,000-manuscript collection Vatican Library goes online"  Oh, boy!

The goal of this digitizing project, which is anticipated to end up using a whopping 43 petabytes (a petabyte is 1,000 terabytes; and knowing that now makes my with my 1 terabyte hard drive seem inadequate) of digital storage, is to make all 82,000 (including 8,900 incunabula, books printed before 1501) of the Vatican's manuscripts available on-line.  Naturally, finishing that project is going to take some time; the staff of 15 digital archivists can, on a good day, scan one page a minute once all the equipment is in place.

But the work is progressing, and the project has posted its first digitized results, a series of 300 14th century German volumes already.

Is there any heraldry in them?  The article doesn't say, but given the discussion of gold or silver in the illuminations, I've got my hopes up.

The full story, which was published in, can be found on-line at

And you can start checking out those first 300 volumes at

And, yes, I've already answered for myself the question about heraldry.  In the second manuscript I opened, at the bottom of page 2r of manuscript Vat. lat.11506 is a rendition in color of the coat of arms (of a cardinal, I'm guessing, based on the red galero over it).  See for yourself at  If you click on the picture of the page, it opens up a set of thumbnails of the entire book for you, and you can then click on the individual pages to get to large versions of them.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Another Cool On-Line Armorial

I've said before, as I find new websites or books or whatever of special interest to heraldry enthusiasts, I will remark upon it here, and often will add a link to it on this blog.

Well, I've recently run across another cool armorial.  This one is Das Sächsische Stammbuch - Mscr.Dresd.R.3 (dated 1546).

One of the things that's really nice about this old armorial is that not only can you peruse its pages on-line, which is great enough, but there's a link (on the right of the page under "Werkzeugkasten", Engl. "toolbox") that will let you download a .pdf copy of the entire manuscript to your computer, allowing you to review, research, and generally scroll through its pages without the necessity of an internet connection.  (Something that I like a lot, as I don't always have a decent wired or wireless connection to the internet everywhere I happen to be.)

There's also an inset on the left-hand side of the page that gives a transcription of the Latin headings of each page, whether of the geographical entities or, later in the book, individuals whose full-length depictions are shown with their coats of arms.

Anyway, feel free to check out this wonderful work of art for yourself.  The URL for it is

And, yes, I've added this manuscript to the "Some Good On-Line Armorials" section in the left-hand column here.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

I've Been Flattered Again!

I was flattered to find in the most recent issue of The Coat of Arms (Third Series, Vol. VIII Part 2, No. 224, Autumn 2012, pp. 139-140), the bi-annual heraldic journal published by The Heraldry Society a listing in the back under "Websites and webpages" that this blog, along with a number of others (most of which can also be found under "Other Blogs of Heraldic Interest" in the left-hand column here), has been listed.

As an introductory note to that listing, the author notes that:

The 2009 survey of internet heraldry in this journal by Jack Carlson (CoA 3rd ser. 5 (2009), no. 218, pp. 81-92) included a section on heraldic blogs and blogs with heraldic content.  Since blogging can be even more ephemeral than other aspects of the internet, it may be of use to have, by way of an update, a short and no doubt incomplete list of blogs with substantial heraldic content known to be operating in 2012.

It's nice for my little blog here to be included in with the great heraldic blogs listed there.  (I'll go double-check that list against the blogs listed here, and if I've missed any, I'll add them!)

Monday, October 28, 2013

A New Website of Interest

This one is called "De Gouden Leeuw van Nassau," in English, "The Golden Lion of Nassau"  In brief, it's an on-line book in Dutch of the arms of the royal family from Engelbert I (1375-1442) through some of the most recent descendants (the very most recent born in 2007), so covering a period of nearly 700 years.

It's actually kind of a cool work, and of course there's lots (and lots!) of drawings of coats of arms.

If you have an interest at all in Dutch royal heraldry, or even just like looking a lots of drawings of any kind of heraldry, drop by this website and see what the author has to show you.

(If you want to find it again later - assuming you didn't save the link - I've added it to the "Websites of Heraldic Interest" list in the left-hand column here.)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Help Wanted

There's a job opening as a herald if you have the right qualifications and apply for it.  The headline at Royal Central ( pretty much said it all: "The Queen is looking for a new Lord Lyon."

David Sellars, the present Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland, is going to step down at the end of this December, after five years of holding the office.  So there's going to be a vacancy that you, perhaps, could fill.  It does, however, require knowledge of more than just heraldry, in that the Lord Lyon is the Judge of the Court of the Lord Lyon, which has jurisdiction over all heraldic matters in Scotland.  This is a real judicial court, and so a knowledge of the law would be extremely useful to have in this post.

The website at Scottish Courts gives a little more information about the necessary qualifications, as well as talking about some of the other functions of the office.

The site goes on to note that "Those interested in applying for the Office are invited to obtain an application form by contacting Jayne Milligan, Scottish Government, Civil Law and Legal System Division, 2W St Andrews House, Regent Road, Edinburgh, EH1 3DG, telephone 0131 244 3051, or by email at"

If you are interested in applying, though, you'd better hurry.  Completed applications must reach Ms. Milligan by October 31.

The full notice of this vacancy can be found on Scottish Courts at

On a completely different note about this announcement, why is it that every news story I've seen about it shows a photograph of some of the heralds from the College of Arms in London?


Yes, they're at some ceremony and bearing their batons and wearing their tabards, which is very colorful and all, but all of the tabards show the English quarterings of the Royal Arms (England, Scotland, Ireland, and England) rather than the Scottish quarterings of the tabards worn by the Scottish heralds (Scotland, England, Ireland, and Scotland).  Really, you'd think that if they were going to do a story about the Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland, they'd at least get a photo of one or more Scottish heralds to go with it, and not members of the English College of Arms, wouldn't you?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Proof Once Again

A co-worker of my wife recently took a trip to Japan, and came back with proof positive that something I have said many times is still true: "You can find heraldry everywhere!"  Even in countries without a strong heraldic tradition (with the exception of their own system of clan and family insignia, mon), like Japan.

Anyway, on one of his receipts from there, he found the following "coat of arms:"

It's from "The Akao Resort Dukedom," which is, as their website explains, "located in the heart of nature Nishikiga-Ura enclosed by the sea and the mountain, and consists of two hotels of 'Hotel New Akao' and 'Royal wing' and four facilities of 'Akao Herb & Rose Garden' and 'Akao Beach Resort' on a vast site of about 750,000m2. It is resort that genuine nature outspread before you."

If I had to blazon it, it would be something along the lines of: Argent two spears in saltire between in chief a sun in his splendor, in dexter a rose, in sinister an eagle rising, and in base a mermaid issuant from waves of the sea in base Azure.

Who'd have thought of looking for heraldry, or at least a coat of arms-like logo, in Japan?  It's true; you can find heraldry everywhere!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

And Even More Found Heraldry

The coat of arms or logo presented here was seen on the back of an SUV while making my daily commute to work on the freeways of urban Dallas, Texas.

The picture is not as clear as I would like, but that's what you get for trying to take a photograph in moving traffic with a cell phone.  Still, it was sufficiently clear that I could later look up the Club Deportivo Guadalajara on-line, and find these much clearer, and color, versions.

The coat of arms at the top is, of course, the arms of the City of Guadalajara, Mexico, granted to it by the Emperor Charles V in 1539.  A rendition of these arms can be found on the website Heraldry of the World at

Proof once again that "you can find heraldry everywhere," even if you look no further than the front windscreen of your car.

Monday, October 14, 2013

More Found Heraldry

Further to our day out together, my wife and I drove over to the west side of Fort Worth to visit the Texas Civil War Museum.  (That would be the American Civil War of 1861-1865.  They've got some really neat stuff there, including a uniform worn by General J.E.B. Stuart, General Robert E. Lee's cavalry commander, as well as the frock coat worn by General U.S. Grant when accepting Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House. But I digress.)

Next door to the TCWM, we saw the following:

Why is it that so many, especially Christian, schools want to use a coat of arms – either real or, more often, made up – for their logo?  Does it have something to do with the “shield of faith” (Eph. 6:16) where Paul is talking about putting on “the full armor of God” and specifically references “the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one”?  (Though how a shield would extinguish flaming arrows is something that I am uncertain about.)  Or is there some other rationale for it?

I don’t have an answer to that question, but I do know that many Christian schools and academies use a coat of arms or shield-shape for their logo.

In any case, it's an interesting heraldic logo (yes, it has its faults: the border and chief are color on color; the stars on the border and across the chief are too small for good identification; the word "Crown" - with a crown inside the O - ought to be unnecessary, for example), and proof once again of something I say so often:  "You can find heraldry everywhere!"  Even, or maybe even especially, when you're not really looking for it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Finding Heraldry

I keep on saying it, and it keeps on being true:  You can find heraldry everywhere!

I this specific instance, my wife and I were taking a day to ourselves and just spending some time with each other away from the house and all the work that needs doing there.  As part of that day, we went over to a large antique mall that we visit occasionally, because (1) it's the kind of thing we like to do, and (2) there's so much cool stuff to see.  The downside of doing this, though, is that we sometimes spend money there and bring some of that cool stuff home, where we have to find a place for it.

And, wouldn't you know it, some of the cool stuff we saw, and bought, and brought home, had heraldry on it.

I have a modest collection of Wedgwood armorial plates, ashtrays, and pin trays.  Most of them are what Wedgwood calls Jasperware, which has a rough-feeling textured finish to it.  One of the themed collections I have that I'm particularly proud of is what I think of as the "London" collection.  I have four plates with the achievement of arms of London on them: one plate in "Wedgwood blue," one terra cotta (with the arms done in black), one black, and one olive green.  I also have a blue one with the arms of London and a scroll commemorating the term of "Sir Edward Howard, BT" as "Lord Mayor 1971-2".  And to round the set out, a Lloyds of London plate done in Lloyds of London green with the firm's arms on it.

 Now, to add to that collection, I found - and purchased - a pin or sweets tray with the achievement of arms of London on it.

A nice addition to the collection, don't you think?

Then Jo Ann found an armorial brooch that caught her eye, with the arms of Sinclair (well, sort of.  They lack the black engrailed cross overall that normally appears there.

And comparing the arms on the brooch to the Sinclair arms in the Sinclair Earls of Caithness in the Dublin Armorial and Lord Crawford's Armorial, the second and third quarters, which on the brooch are painted in gold, should be white.

Still and all, though, it was a nice couple of heraldic finds to be found on a pleasant fall Saturday, and I'm glad that we ran across them.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Heraldry in the News!

I know, I know!  You've all seen one or another stories on this topic already.  And it's been news, apparently, all over the world.  (Just check out the links that I'm going to give you below, though I am sure that a lot of them are all quoting from the same source or sources.  But I mean, really, the Las Vegas Sun?  In southern Nevada?)

What story is that, you ask?  Why the news about the unveiling of the new "conjugal coat of arms" for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, of course.  But since you've already seen one or more stories about it, why am I bringing it up here?  Because I have a complaint about it.

In brief, my complaint is this:  That is not a "new conjugal coat of arms"!

It is not even "a" coat of arms.  It is two coats of arms (neither one which can truly be considered to be brand "new") arranged in an heraldic display that can be called a marital achievement of arms, complete with helm, crest, coronet of rank, supporters, compartment, and some other external additaments (such as William's Garter).  The key word in that sentence being "external," that is, not a part of the "coats of arms."  A coat of arms is the shield and its colors and charges.  An achievement of arms has all that other stuff.  When you combine two separate and distinct coats of arms into a display of a marital achievement of arms, you get the kind of picture that all these news stories have been talking about, but you do not get a "conjugal coat of arms."  Have I made myself clear?

(And if I find out who started this whole "conjugal coat of arms" business -- and from one of the articles it may have been someone at Kensington Palace -- I'm likely to send them a "nasty-gram" and recommend - strongly - that the next time they speak about heraldry, they get it vetted by the College of Arms first!)

Now, about those links.  (Because, after all, even if misnamed, it is heraldry, and it's almost always a pleasure to see it discussed in the media, because it helps to remind people that heraldry is not relegated to the sphere of the antiquarian, but is a living art today.),0,7417235.story

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Oh, Dear.

We were at the movie theater the other day (catching the latest Riddick movie, if you must know) and on the way out I saw a somewhat ambiguous poster for a movie being released sometime next year.  What first caught my eye, of course, was the large shield shape that was the central image on the poster.

It's for a movie entitled Vampire Academy, which according to the storyline synopsis over at IMdB will have good vampires fighting bad vampires and a heroine who is half-vampire/half-human.  Not really my cup of tea, I must say.

But the "coat of arms" on the poster certainly got my attention.  Some of the symbols on the right (sinister) side are clearly for the "elements" of water, earth, air, and fire.  I'm not at all certain what the top one is supposed to represent.  (Though it does remind me somewhat of the flower of the Hong Kong Orchid Tree which appears on the flag of Hong Kong, only with six-part symmetry instead of five petals.  And I'm not at all certain of the ones on the left (dexter) side: crossed lightning flashes, but with what meaning?  Neither the sun-like object nor the spiked or thorned S is familiar to me, either.

So while I'll probably end up giving the movie itself a miss, I do find the attempt at some sort of pseudo-heraldry as "arms" for the Academy to be interesting.  Because, after all, it's always fun to run across heraldry - good, bad, or indifferent - in the movies.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Empty Shields Again!

So, having finished up my research at the library in Charlotte, Michigan, we had some time to drive around a bit and see how much the town had (or hadn't) changed in the half century since I lived there.  And in keeping with what I've found in other places while looking for heraldry, there were some blank shields.

This one comes from one of the buildings in the two-block long downtown part of the city.  It's a really great architectural feature but, as with so many other blank shields/cartouches/ovals/etc. that I run across in my travels, I wish that they had added a coat of arms to the shield or, in this case, the oval.

And then we drove by a house that had two of these babies sitting outside, one on either side of the sidewalk leading up to the house.  I have no idea where the owner got them, but I'd sure love one (or two) to place at the front of my house!  And let me tell you, the shield hanging from the chain around its neck would have my coat of arms on it, too, instead of the horizontal (and sadly, blank) plaque here.

Still, for all that it's bearing an empty shield, what a great thing to have "guarding" the path to one's house.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

More "Heraldry" in Charlotte, Michigan

In the two and a half days we spent in Charlotte, Michigan, a lot of our time was at the local library, looking through bound copies of old newspapers (1960-1963).  And in keeping with my often-stated belief that "you can find heraldry everywhere," sure enough, we ran across the following on a license plate of a vehicle parked in the library's parking lot.

It's not "real" heraldry, as I see it, but it's certainly an attempt at an heraldic-like logo.  And it celebrates American automobiles, which some of us (especially those who, like me, were brought up during what I think of as the golden age of American muscle cars) think is kind of cool.  (The fact that this particular plate was mounted on a minivan took away a bit from that coolness.)

Still and all, though, it's a try for something heraldic.  And while it may have fallen a bit short, I think the attempt was made ought to be given some consideration here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Heraldry, Even in a Small Town

So after the conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana, finished up, we drove to the small town in southern Michigan of Charlotte, almost exactly 50 years after my family had moved away from there.  And while I have often said that "you can find heraldry everywhere," I was not certain that I'd be able to do so there.  Happily for my theorem, there was heraldry to be found in this town of some 9,000 people, both real and not.

The real heraldry was found, not so surprisingly, at what used to be the county courthouse, a large red brick building now occupied by the Charlotte Historical Society and a museum.

The first coat of arms was to be found in the pediments over the doors to the building.  These are, of course, the arms of the United States of America, Paly of thirteen argent and gules, a chief azure.  And this is the correct version of those arms: thirteen stripes (the number often varies from that), and no stars on the chief (as is often found, the artists confusing the flag with has stars with the arms, which does not).

That said, I am not at all certain why the arms of the United States appear on the courthouse.  It is not a U.S. courthouse, but a county courthouse, an arm of the State of Michigan and not of the United States proper.

Inside, in what used to be the courtroom was the "arms" of the State of Michigan.  It is, as you can easily see, "landscape" heraldry, with not one, not two, but three mottoes.  E pluribus unum, above the eagle crest, used to be (until the 1950s) the motto of the United States, "out of many, one."  The second, on the chief of the shield, Tuebor ("I will defend").  And finally, Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice (If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you).  This last totally ignores that fact that the State of Michigan consists of two large peninsulas, along with a couple of smaller ones (the "thumb" of the hand of the lower peninsula and the "tail" of the dog of the upper peninsula), and the argument could be made that there are even more (the "little finger" of the hand, for one).

Still, it's official "heraldry," however much it may be a landscape placed on a shield, and there it was, painted on the wall of the court on the upper floor of the county courthouse.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Last Bit of Faux Heraldry in Fort Wayne

Finally, we ran across this sign (my fault, I'd made a wrong turn driving back to our hotel from the conference; a happy, I supposed, mistake) that is certainly trying to be heraldic.

It isn't, exactly, though.  While it is certainly placed on a shield shape, the most heraldic part of it is a variation of the Royal crest of Great Britain (and Canada, for that matter, and New Zealand, and so on) (atop an arched crown a lion passant guardant wearing an arched crown), placed in the chief part of the shield instead of atop or above the shield (in the usual place for a crest).  The fact that the arched crown and lion appear to be divided per pale is certainly a difference from the Royal crest, but the overall impression of the Royal crest is hard to avoid, and that impression may very well be exactly what they were trying to mimic.

Is there even more heraldry and heraldry-like items that I may have missed in Fort Wayne?  I fully expect it, but the fact is that I was there attending a conference and didn't have a lot of time to cruise the streets looking for coats of arms, real and otherwise.  Still, I think the last several posts here adequately demonstrate once more my belief that "you can find heraldry everywhere!"

Monday, September 16, 2013

Is It Real, or Is It (Well, Not Memorex, but....)

Next door to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana, is the MacDougal Memorial Chapel.  It's a large round building, that in a way rather reminded me of the baptistery near the Duomo in Florence, Italy.

However, other than that initial impression, the two buildings are entirely different in style and decoration.  And the decoration here that caught my eye were the armorial panels over the windows.  There were two sets of eight shields, which were repeated as they went around the building.  Here are close ups of the two sets.

The first panel is done on heater shield shapes; the second on roundels.

The top row in the first panel is, from left to right, the Holy Spirit descending the form of a dove, the crossed keys of St. Peter, the chalice and host of Communion, and three stalks of wheat bound by a ribbon.  The second row is a cross couped (sometimes called a Greek cross), a grapevine fructed, three escallops (the escallop shell being a symbol of pilgrimage, particularly in reference to a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James at Compostela, Spain), and a sword inverted entwined by a snake.

The top row in the second is another grapevine fructed, the Chi Rho, three stalks of wheat bound by a ribbon, and a chalice with a cross issuant from its bowl.  The bottom row of the second panel is two fishes in saltire (heads downwards), the chalice and host again, a Latin cross surmounted by a monogram of the Greek letters alpha and omega, and a pomegranate.

As you can easily see, these are all religious symbols, many with Biblical referents.  Are they "real" heraldry?  I do not believe so, but they are certainly appropriate architectural elements appended to a chapel.