Thursday, February 28, 2013

Faux Heraldry in Heidelberg

There were, of course, some displays of "heraldry" in Heidelberg which were not coats of arms at all, but merely aped real heraldry.  I present to you the following examples:

The example above from a street sign for a brew house.  Shield, helm, mantling, torse, and crest.  But the shield is simply a landscape of the old bridge and the castle at Heidelberg, as seen from across the river, and thus isn't really "heraldry" at all, despite the accouterments.

This shield was seen in a window around the corner from where my great-great-great grandfather used to live.  Presumable it's a child's toy shield; frankly, I was more interested in the steins below it.  Was that bad of me?

A beautiful display of ... a blank shield, with helm, crest of ostrich feathers, mantling, and imitation collar surrounding the shield.  Ah, if only they'd carved some one's arms on the shield!

And finally, a cypher masquerading as a coat of arms.  (But what beautiful carving!  Very impressive.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ecclesiastical Heraldry in the Blogosphere

There's a short but informative post today over on the blog Seasons of Grace by blogger Kathy Schiffer on what will be the arms of the Vatican when Pope Benedict XVI steps down later this week.  It's an interesting post about what is probably a lesser-known aspect of the Papal interregnum that occurs between the death or resignation of one Pope and the election of another.

She also looks at Benedict XVI's coat of arms and the meaning for him on the charges on it.

If you'd like to see what she says about the Vatican and the heraldry of this upcoming interregnum, her post can be found on-line at

More Heraldry in Heidelberg

One of the big tourist destinations in Heidelberg is the Hotel Zum Ritter, which in addition to being a fine old building, has various displays of heraldry about it.

As their name suggests (Hotel at the Knight), their emblem is the knight St. George slaying the dragon, as displayed on the sign outside.  Which sign, as you can see, also has a depiction of the arms of the City of Heidelberg in the corner.

The red sandstone facade of the building has a number of carvings and bas reliefs of various subjects on it, but of course, I was drawn to the panel with the two coats of arms, above: a ram salient and two fishes haurient.

We managed to go by the Hotel about mid-morning when they were starting to set up for lunch, and asked and received permission to go inside the restaurant portion to photograph some of the stained glass panels that we could see from the street.  In addition to one panel containing the arms of Heidelberg which you will find in the post from February 14 (, they also had these two panels of the following:

This one of the quartered arms of Pfalz and Bayern (in English, Bavaria).

And this one of family arms, but whose name was half-covered by the curtain which I wasn't going to push my luck by moving.  We seemed to be making the staff a little nervous already by our presence.  So, sorry, I don't know (yet) whose arms this panel displays.

But what a great display of heraldry to run across that day!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Coats of Arms at Heidelberg University

Continuing our heraldic tour of Heidelberg, Germany, we must naturally enough go by the University.  The city has been a university town for literally centuries.  Founded in 1386, the university is the oldest in Germany, and was the third university established in the Holy Roman Empire.  Naturally enough, having been one of the main funders of the University, the Grand Duchy of Baden has its coat of arms proudly displayed in a variety of ways about the campus: in color and hatched, and sometimes (as in this example and another, below) both.

The blazon of the arms in English is: Or a bend gules.  Which is about as simple a coat of arms as you can possibly get.

There are also, on different buildings, heraldry-like, but blank, shields.  (To my mind, these are crying out for some sort of real heraldry to be placed on them!  However, lacking a long ladder, carving tools and/or spray paint, and the courage to no doubt break a number of German laws, I was not about to attempt to rectify that situation myself.)

Still, don't you wish that someone would create some heraldry on those blank shields?

Monday, February 18, 2013

A "Pair" of Arms in Heidelberg

Wandering about the streets of Heidelberg with a digital camera that looked like it had been implanted in or glued to my face ...

Jo Ann claims this is how she saw me
for much of our time in Europe

,,, because there's just so very much heraldry to photograph, don' t you know, I came across two different but similar coats of arms in the city.

Aren't these interesting?  On different buildings, and they are different coats of arms, but the initial impression of them is that they are very similar.  And, indeed, the third quarter of each coat (in the lower left as you look at it) are the same, and the fourth quarters (in the lower right) both have a field and a bend, though if the first coat is hatched properly, the colors of the shield and bend are different.  The second quarter (in the upper right) appear at first glance to be the same, but in the upper coat, that quarter is the arms of the City of Heidelberg with the crowned lion atop a rock, while in the lower coat, the charge is a griffin.  The first quarter of each coat (that in the upper left) is quite different in each case, the upper being a sword surmounted by a hanging balance and the lower being four arrows inverted in saltire.  And, of course, the inescutcheons (the smaller shields overall) are completely different, as well, the upper one being a cypher (TR or possibly FR) and the lower one being a crowned bull's head cabossed, possibly within a bordure.

Still, in looking through all my photos taken in Heidelberg, these two stood out to me as looking very similar, while being quite different.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Arms of Heidelberg

So, to get back on track from our trip last fall, as I mentioned we took a few days and spent them in Heidelberg, Germany. We were there mostly to visit places (streets, possible houses, and churches) related to some of my ancestors who lived there in the 1700s and 1800s.  (My great-grandfather emigrated from Heidelberg in 1881 at the ripe old age of 14.  He was, alas, the last of his surname living there, having no siblings, and his parents and grandparents having pre-deceased him.)

Naturally enough, especially in what is effectively a tourist destination like Heidelberg, which has been attracting visitors for a long time now, we ran across a number of depictions of the city's coat of arms, Sable, a lion rampant Or armed, langued, and crowned Gules, atop a trimount Vert (some depictions show the lion double-queued, or double-tailed, and some show it queue-forchy, or split-tailed, while the majority give it a single tail), done in various media and in several artistic styles, from pretty classical to very modern.

It's a great coat of arms in that it is simple, easy to identify, and can be done in a wide variety of ways.

 This one, with the arms of Heideldberg on the right, is from a memorial inside the Peterskirche.

The one above is from a roof boss in the Heiliggeistkirche; the one below from one of its interior pillars.

A stained glass window in the Zum Ritter Hotel.

On the exterior of the University Library.

On a shield being held by the statue of Hercules in the Marktplatz.

The city's coat of arms "in the round" as it were (with the additions of a sword and orb, which makes for an awkward "rampant" pose).

This one has the black of the shield gilded, while the golden lion is done in a terracotta color.

In a modern style on a banner ("of the livery" colors, black and gold) in the Market Square, suspended from a pole with the lion from the arms (in a matching style) as the finial atop the pole (below).

And last, but certainly not least, again in a modern style on the door handles to the building housing the tourist bureau.  (Where a couple of very nice young ladies did their best to help me read photocopied excerpts from some 1860s city directories and try to find where some of the streets listed in them are located.)

It was great for me as an heraldry enthusiast to keep running into the city's coat of arms all over the old city done in so many different media and styles.  I just love it when a place really uses its heraldry, and Heidelberg certainly does that.  (If only I'd been able to locate a tshirt in my size with the arms on it.  But I did find, and buy, not one but two different baseball caps with the arms, so I'm really not complaining at all!  One of them is my new favorite cap, moving the previous favorite, one I bought in Quebec City with the crowned badge of the Royal 22e Régiment, to second favorite.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

American Heraldry in a Danish Heraldic Exhibition

Or, at least, an American President's heraldry.

At last fall's International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences, Danish heraldic artist Ronny Andersen kindly gave me a copy of the catalog (which he also helped to put together) for an exhibit of heraldry in Denmark, "Knights: in the book and on the shield."  (Well, the title really is "Riddere: i bog og på skjold," but that's what it translates to in English.)  The description of the exhibit on the front cover notes:

Exhibition of models of coats of arms from the orders' chapter archive
Her Majesty the Queen's Small Library, Christian VIII's Palace at Amalienborg
May 25, 2012 - January 1, 2014

(Well, that's how Bing translates it, with an assist from me, who knows that in this context, "wappen" is "coats of arms" and not "weapons," for example.)

So if any of you should have the opportunity to go to Amalienborg this year, be sure to try to attend this exhibit, which includes arms from members of both the Order of the Elephant and the Order of the Dannebrog.  Just from the catalog it looks to be well worth the time.  But I digress.

On page 14 of the catalog is a portion of an article (in English) about the arms of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the meaning of the (many!) symbols upon it.

For those of you who are interested, there is some additional background on this, an earlier attempt, and the final coat of arms for Ike following his induction into the Order of the Elephant following WWII, on the website of the American Heraldry Society at Dwight David Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States

As you can read there, the above proposal for his arms was not accepted for a couple of politely-stated reasons, but basically because it was just too bloody complex.  Eventually this much simpler, far more identifiable design was proposed and accepted.  (And aren't we all glad for that?)

In another post on this blog nearly three years ago I noted a semi-heraldic doodle made by Eisenhower during his Presidency (created during what must not have been a very exciting meeting).  That post can be found at

Thursday, February 7, 2013

French Heraldry in the Blogosphere

In a recent (January 25, 2013) post over on The French Genealogy Blog, blogger Anne Morddel writes about The Cabinet des Titres, the Cabinet of Titles, a part of the French manuscripts collection at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the French National Library.  Included in the Cabinet are such things as d'Hozier's Armorial général de France and such other manuscripts and books as the Armorial général des registres de la noblesse de France, and a whole bunch of other stuff of use both to genealogists and to heraldry enthusiasts.  The post has several links to some parts of the collection, and other parts (the Armorial général de France, for example) can be found by doing a simple search on the website of the National Library.

It's a short but very informative article, giving some background that I hadn't seen before on the d'Hozier's and the Armorial général, as well as introducing me to some new-to-me volumes available at the National Library's website.  If you have an interest in French heraldry, I suggest you go read the article and follow the links to see what's available.  (And, of course, if you have an interest in French genealogy, the entire blog is a great resource.)  The Cabinet des Titres post can be found on-line at

Bonne chance!

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Long Overdue Update

It's taken me a very long time, but I've finally gotten around to framing and hanging the large (20" x 20", or about 51 cm x 51 cm) Flemish heraldic tile that I blogged about on December 13, 2010 ( (yeah, it's been over two years since I bought it, so it is well overdue).  I have to admit that I have made no progress yet in determining the reference on the plaque to the years 1924 and 1949, but given how long it's taken me to get it framed, and how much stuff I've been doing in the meantime (much of which you have seen in my various posts on this blog between then and now), it's not all that surprising.  Oh, well, someday I'm going to retire and have full days that I can devote to heraldic research.

Anyway, I mentioned that this plaque was going to replace a large very naturalistic depiction of the arms of Mexico, superimposed over a relief map of the country and the whole thing bordered with the arms and names of its constituent states, and now it has.  I'm still trying to figure out where I'm going to move Mexico to; as I said in that earlier post, "So much heraldry; so few walls."  But I really like it, and am not willing to consign it to the dust bin!

So here are the "before" (with Mexico) and "after" (with the Flemish plaque) pictures of the bookcase wall of my home office.  (The apparent curvature of the ceiling is an artifact of using a wider-angle lens on the camera.  It's really straight.  No, trust me, it is!)  For those of you who are interested, clicking on either picture should open a larger, higher resolution version.

Nice!  I really love being able to work in this room!