Thursday, March 28, 2013

More Hausmarken Arms at Peterskirche in Heidelberg

Before getting to some of the heraldry in the interior of Peterskirche in Heidelberg, I thought I'd share two more heraldic memorials with hausmarken (housemarks) on them.

There are four coats of arms on this memorial; the one on the lower right is a hausmark issuant from a trimount and with the initials d B.  The others are: upper left, a firesteel (perhaps.  It looks a bit like a pretzel, too) issuant from a trimount with a mullet of six points in chief with the initials P G; upper right, a saltire couped issuant from a trimount between four grozing irons in annulo with the initials E B; lower left, a human figure issuant from a trimount, but everything else is too worn to make out.

Some of the text in the upper part of the monument is missing; some letters have been "helpfully" defaced, I mean, highlighted in white for easier reading.  The only name I have been able to make out that I am sure of is Dorathea, perhaps Buchtin, who apparently died aged 75 years.

It seems to me very unusual to have a housemark issuant from a trimount, but given that a trimount appears in each of the other arms on this memorial, it may be theme or heraldic treatment within this family.

And here are two coats of arms, both with hausmarken on them.  The one on the right is done with an upside-down anchor; the one on the left a "purer" form of hausmark whose main element is blazoned, according to Das Grosse Buch der Wappenkunst, a vierkopfschaft (literally, 4 head shaft).  The crossarms of the upright and the horizontal would also be blazoned (something along the lines of erniedrigter Mittelkreuzbalken if I am reading it correctly).  It's a whole little subset of blazon within heraldry, one which I have not yet had the time to adequately learn.  Someday, perhaps, in my "copious free time."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Successful Search for a Coat of Arms!

I had posted a request for help in identifying a coat of arms a couple of days ago (  I'd also requested help on a couple of heraldry society forums to which I belong.  I am happy to be able to report that a correspondent has been able to identify the arms!  Her email noted as follows:

I've found this coat of arms.
Here are the links with the pictures :

Family: De GRITIS, Italy

The same family is in the Stemmario Trivulziano (p. 167 (d), with the cross more like a cross formy) :
blazoned p. 410-411:
"Troncato: nel I° d'azzurro, alla croce scorciata e patente d'argento; nel 2° d'argento pieno". È stemma della famiglia Gritti di Venezia"

And you can see an other picture here:

The relevant pictures from the links are:

This one is from the Insignia ... V. Insignia urbium Italiae septentrionalis: Nobilium Mediolanensium - BSB Cod.icon. 270, one a set of fifteen 16th Century Italian armorials which have been digitized and uploaded to the website of the Bavarian State Library in Munich.

This image is from Wikimedia Commons.

As you can see, these arms match those on the jar in question.

The arms are those of the Gritti family of Venice, one of whose members, Andrea, was Doge of Venice from 1523 to 1538.  (More information about Andrea Gritti, as well as a portrait of him painted by Titian, can be found at  Given that the jar was made around 1500, it is entirely possible that it was made for Andrea Gritti while he was Doge.

I did find myself a bit annoyed at myself, since I had looked through my copy of the Stemmario Trivulziano which has yet another depiction of these arms, but I hadn't caught it.  My only excuse is that when thumbing through some 250 pages of heraldry at nine coats of arms to a page (not yet knowing a name to look up in the index), I somehow missed it.  Still, it was right there.  Well, thank goodness I have friends to help make up for my shortcomings.

Thank you all who spent some time looking for this coat of arms.  And thank you Anne, for finding not one, but three, depictions of this coat of arms.  I appreciate the help.  Truly, I do.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Heraldry in the News!

O. M. G.

In a March 14, 2013 article at Volume One, entitled "A Coat of Arms for Eau Claire?," Eau Claire, Wisconsin, City Councilman David Duax has been spearheading an effort to get the city to adopt a coat of arms.  Councilman Duax and Council President Kerry Kincaid have worked with Eau Claire graphic artist Rachel Schimelman to create a "coat of arms," which would also be used as part of the city's official seal. A draft version of the artwork, unveiled by Kincaid at Eau Claire's Own Birthday Bash at the Volume One Gallery on March 9, is shown below.

As I said, O. M. G.

Apparently they opted to go with what I tend to term "kitchen sink" heraldry, containing as it does "everything but the kitchen sink."  The Volume One article suggested that to include all of the symbols of Eau Claire, you would choose: "The mighty Chippewa River and its more slender sibling, the Eau Claire River.... Trees to represent lumbering. Something to honor the region's indigenous inhabitants, ... and something French too. And don't forget our most famous avian historical figure, Old Abe the war eagle."  Not to mention "the tower of the original county courthouse," a star to symbolize Eau Claire's status as a county seat, and "fleurs-de-lis represent the entities (two villages and four townships) that were united to create the city in 1872."  And, of course, we mustn't overlook the inescutcheon and the "outescutcheon" (for lack of a better term), nor the two trees as supporters.  As I said, "kitchen sink" heraldry.

Ms. Schimelman "had never been asked to create a coat of arms before," something I have no trouble at all believing.  And she doesn't expect the City Council to seek many changes. "'I don't think council members see themselves as on-the-fly graphic artists,' she said with a laugh."  And if they actually don't ask for many changes, I can easily believe that, too.

I suppose I shouldn't complain too much; it does obey the rule of contrast (no color upon color, and no metal upon metal), after all, something that many heraldic designs by non-heralds fail to do.

But I think they could have done so much better.

The full article can be found on-line at

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Request for Assistance

A reader of this blog has sent me a photograph of a coat of arms on an enameled blown glass jar made in Venice circa 1500.  He hoped that I would be able to help him identify the heraldry on the jar.  After searching through all my general armorials and ordinaries (e.g., Rietstap's Armorial Général, Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials, and the Dictionnaire de Renesse, as well a thumbing through some of my reproduction armorials (the hard way, page by page), I've come up blank.  (I've often said that, when you go trying to trace a particular coat of arms, you just never know what you're going to find.  Sometimes it's a whole lot; sometimes it's nothing.  You just never know when you start out how it's going to end.)

While the jar was made in Venice, it is entirely possible that the arms on it are not Italian, but that it was made for export.  Indeed, the jar was acquired in England.  Hence the broad search through the general armorials and ordinaries.

I told him that I'd been unable to find the coat and asked him if I could post his photograph of them on-line and ask for assistance from the heraldic community, and he gave his permission to do so.  So, in the manner of posting the faces of missing children on milk cartons here in the States ...

Have you seen this coat of arms?

I am assuming that the border around the shield is simply decoration and not a part of the coat of arms. I also searched for it both as Per fess Azure and Argent ... and Argent, on a chief Azure ..., since it could be interpreted either way.  I did find a number of arms in Rietstap that were Per fess azure and argent, in chief an X Or/Argent, where "X" was a crescent, or a label, or mullets, or a leopard/lion passant guardant, or some other charge, but not a cross Argent, plain, formy, or otherwise.

If you recognize this coat of arms, please feel free to post what you know about it (and in what source you found it, please!) in the comments section below.

Thank you all so much!  I know that if we get enough eyes on this, someone will be able to tell us to whom it belongs.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Heraldry in the News!

In a post last week (March 13, 2013), I noted several news articles about the town of Deal in Kent, England, which had been told that the coat of arms they were using was not legitimately theirs to use, as it had been the arms of the (now defunct) Borough of Deal.

The town council has followed through on the plans noted then, and has adopted the arms of the Cinque Ports Confederation, differenced with the town motto, as their new coat of arms.

As you can see by the illustration of the "new" arms above, they did not - for which all of us, and not just Hastings, should be glad - adopt the arms of Hastings, which illustrated one of the earlier news articles that I pointed out in my March 13 post.  (Be that as it may, I'm not entirely happy with the illustration above; all of the renditions of the Cinque Port arms that I have ever seen - until now - did not have the black horizontal lines separating the three lions and three hulks.  I have no idea why the artist who drew this thought that they needed to be there.  Indeed, not even the vertical black line is necessary to the arms, but it at least has a little more reason to be there than the horizontal lines do, since it does divide the shield per pale.)

The full article about this adoption of these "new" arms can be found on-line at the BBC:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Some Unusual Memorial Heraldry at Peterskirche

I'd love to know more about the following memorial.  The inscription is hard to make out; in the topmost (and best preserved) of three panels of inscriptions, about 1/3 of the words are completely worn away, and the lower panels are progressively worse.  It would be hard to read even in my native language without the missing words, and the inscriptions here are in German in a German script.  Still, the arms are in fairly good condition, and I found them fascinating.

The left-hand shield (and the crest) consist of a rune-like symbol called a housemark (in German, hausmark, plural hausmarken).  As their name implies, these symbols were originally used to mark houses, before being moved onto shields as heraldry.

It's the other shield, the one on the right, that really intrigues me.  It looks like a bear (the face is too long to be a monkey, and it lacks the usual collar around that waist that helps to identify heraldic monkeys) sitting on a rock either drinking from a flask or playing panpipes, I'm not sure which.  (One of the first things it reminded me of was Winnie the Pooh about to get his head stuck in his honey pot!)  This is one of those coats of arms where you just know there's got to be a good story to it!

I didn't see this coat in a quick search of the Dictionnaire de Renesse, his ordinary of all of the arms in Rietstap's Armorial Général, but it's certainly possible that I missed something.  (Reading French, with many French abbreviations, is not my forte at all!)  And, of course, it's possible that these arms do not appear in Rietstap, and therefore not in Renesse.  As Pooh might say, "Oh, bother!"

Friday, March 15, 2013

And Now for Something Completely Different

If you'll pardon my stealing that line from Monty Python's Flying Circus for my title.

I am going to be presenting my very first webinar this coming Thursday evening, March 21, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (8 Central, 7 Mountain, 6 Pacific), being hosted by Rootsonomy.

Entitled "Finding Your New England Ancestors," this presentation obviously has very little to do with heraldry (sorry to disappoint all my heraldry enthusiast friends!). However, if you are interested in an overview of doing genealogical research in the six states of New England, you can register at

Yes, there is a small (US$5) fee for participating in the webinar, payable to Rootsonomy via PayPal to or by going to

If this is a success, who knows? They might ask me back to do some more!  (Maybe even something to do with heraldry.)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

More Memorial Heraldry at Peterskirche in Heidelberg

Continuing with some more of the heraldic memorials found on the exterior of Peterskirche in Heidelberg, we have:

These arms, of a stork with a snake in its beak, are found on the monument to Joanni Pinciero Henricie Rauschen, died in his adolescence (moribus adolsescenti) in Heidelberg (well, Heidelbergæ) on January 8, 1593.

 This monument is to Johann Simeon Torger, 1598, and Susanna (well, I can't quite make out the surname; it looks like Bieghift, but that doesn't sound quite right to me), 1606.

His arms are Per fess, a rose and a fleur-de-lis.  Her arms look to me to contain something that in English would be blazoned as a hulk, a mastless ship, which is blazoned in German a mastlose Kogge or a Kahn.  (According to my copy of Das Grosse Buch der Wappenkunst.)  It is possible that it might be an upside-down horseshoe, but a close inspection of the charge enlarged leads me to believe it is not.

It's a beautifully carved achievement, especially the way the mantling swirls and curls on either side of the helmet.

And here are the arms on the monument of Matthes Mais.  I could not find a date on the inscription.  The arms, however, are very simple: a field and a bird, possibly a dove.  The crest, following the usual German fashion, is a bird as on the arms.  (Carved in much deeper relief, the crest has lost its head.)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Heraldry in the News!

In several news articles from mid-February of this year, Deal Town Council and Deal Town FC, in Kent, England have learned the emblem they use is invalid because it is the old coat of arms of the Borough of Deal, which no longer exists. The council said all letterheads and road signs will have to be changed, costing thousands of pounds.  Deal mayor Marlene Burnham considers it "heraldry gone mad". (I'm guessing she considers it so because she doesn't understand how heraldry is supposed to work.)

Deal Borough Council disbanded in 1974 and Deal Town Council was formed in 1996. According to the College of Arms, because the present town does not have the same area as the former Borough, a simple transfer of the arms is not possible.

Deal Town FC, which also uses the coat of arms, has been told the emblem on their shirts will have to go.  Club chairman Dayle Melody said: "Immediately we could just put a patch over the face of it and be badge-less, but that's not something we want to do. ... "It all depends how far the authorities want to go with regards to making us take it off. We've got five kits so that's £4,500 that we'd have to find to replace the kits."

You can see the story at BBC News at

A related article at KentOnline, noting the use of the arms by the Deal Victoria and Barns Close Cricket Club stitched into ties, blazers and on a large flag, is also entering the fight to keep using the Deal Borough coat of arms.

Fred Wilson, secretary of Deal Vics, said the club has known for years but continued using the logo without any enforcement from the college.  (This is, of course, because the College of Arms doesn’t really have any enforcement authority.  If they were located in Scotland, it would be an entirely different matter!)

"In 1994 we decided we were going to have it," he said. "We got a letter from the charter trustees saying you can use the emblem of Deal as your coat of arms. Just after that they found out that it hadn't been registered with the college who register them." He added: "People should be pleased to see that so many organisations are proud to have the coat of arms of Deal."  ( Yeah, because every place of business in Deal should be able to use the Deal coat of arms; that wouldn't create any confusion of identity at all! )

That article can be found at

In a follow-up article in This Is Kent on February 27, the Deal Town Council has voted unanimously to opt for the cheaper (than the £10,000 they said it would have cost to change the arms) option of taking on the Cinque Ports arms, personalised with the town name and motto.

The trouble, of course, is that the image that they link to in the article is not the arms of the Cinque Ports, but the arms of Hastings, which is only one member of the Cinque Ports Confederation of Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover, and Sandwich.  This is the Hastings arms.

I am assuming that what they are actually doing is dropping the charged chief from the old arms of the Borough and adding the town name above and motto below the shield, and not taking the arms of Hastings (which are differenced from the Cinque Ports by having a whole lion passant guardant in place of the center lion/hulk dimidiation).  In other words, going back to what the Deal coat of arms was a little over a century ago, as you can see in this postcard from the very early 1900s.

This article can be found on-line at

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ecclesiastical Heraldry in the News!

Okay, this time it’s about the Pope’s arms.

In an article in the National Post, Father Raymond J. de Souza notes the removal on Wednesday, March 6, 2013, of recently-retired Pope Benedict XVI’s arms from the garden in front of the Vatican Governor's Palace, leaving the crossed keys and tiara above the now dirt-colored, empty shield shape awaiting the election of a new Pope.  With a new Pope in place, the gardeners will place his arms in the currently empty shield.

The garden with Pope Benedict XVI's arms.

The current armorial display.

The article can be found on-line at

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ecclesiastical Heraldry in the News!

No, I don’t (yet) mean the arms of the new Pope.  The new Bishop of Las Cruces, New Mexico, the Most Reverend Oscar Cantu, has his coat of arms emblazoned, blazoned, and discussed in an article on the website of television stations KVIA, which serves both El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico.

I’m glad that the article gives a blazon for the arms, as otherwise I would have mistaken the charges on the fess (the horizontal white stripe) for some kind of robot.  (Which lets you know how much science fiction I watch!)  Still, I found the blazon to be a bit confusing.  “Upon a field party per fess Azure and Vert two crosiers in saltair [sic], the one per bend a bishop's crosier Or and the one per bend sinister, a veiled abbot's crosier Argent; upon a table Sable a host and chalice Proper all upon a fess overall of the fourth.

It’s been my experience that one blazons the charges on the field first, and only then the charges which lie on other charges.  In other words, “Per fess Azure and Vert two crosiers in saltire, the one bendwise a bishop's crosier Or and the one bendwise sinister a veiled abbot's crosier, overall on a fess Argent on a table Sable a host and chalice Proper.”

Further, I would note that not even the College of Arms in London is any longer blazoning tinctures with “of the first,” “of the second,” etc. as being confusing.  Witness the blazon in the second paragraph quoted from the article, where you have to hunt through three-quarters of the blazon to figure out which tincture is the “fourth” one cited.  It’s easier simply to repeat the tincture if necessary.  Which isn’t necessary anyway in my proposed blazon.

As a final quibble, the croziers are not “per bend” and “per bend sinister.”  The gold one is “bendwise,” “lying in the direction of the bend” according to J.P. Brooke-Little’s An Heraldic Alphabet, and by extension the white crozier is lying in the direction of a bend sinister.  “Per bend” is how it would be divided if it were of two different tinctures with the line of demarcation running down its length.  This is not the case, and even if it were, it would be a crozier “bendwise per bend A and B,” with A and B being different tinctures.

But what do I know?

The full article can be found on-line at

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Memorial Heraldry in Heidelberg

We spent a lot of our time in Heidelberg in and around two churches: the Heiliggeistekirche (the Holy Spirit Church) and Der Peterskirche (Peter's Church).  Before getting to the heraldry we saw there, I thought I'd explain why we went to those two churches in particular.

My great-great grandparents both attended the Holy Spirit Church.  However, at that time, there was a wall filling the church separating into two parts.  The Catholics (of whom my great-great grandfather was one, as were his parents and their parents) and the Protestants (of whom my great-great grandmother was one, as were her parents and their parents) each met in one of the two parts of the divided building.  But somehow, these two met and married, but did not do so in the Holy Spirit Church.  Rather, my great-great grandfather converted to Protestantism, and in May of 1865 married my great-great grandmother in the Protestant Peter's Church, which was the church which still serves Heidelberg University.  A little later, on April 23, 1867, my great-grandfather was born and was baptized at Peter's Church.  As a consequence, both of these churches have family connections to me, and I was able to spend a fair bit of time in and around both of them. Fortunately for you, they also each had a fair bit of heraldry in them.

The following are a couple of the heraldic monuments mounted on the exterior of Peterskirche.

The monument above is to four people, a father and son with their respective wives.  From left to right we have (assuming I am reading the Latin and German correctly):

Michel Miler der Alt, 1555
Margreta Bobe, 1586

Michel Miler der Jung, 1587
Agnes Mullerin, 1605

The elder Michel Miler's arms have a cog wheel on them; the younger Michel Miler's arms have a cog wheel and in chief what looks like a gridiron.  (It is also possibly a harrow, but I am less confident of that possibility.)

Magreta Bobe's arms have the trunk or branch of an oak tree fesswise (horizontally) and sprouting leaves, while Agnes Mullerin's arms have an equal-armed cross in chief (of which part of the uppermost arm is missing).

Some of the monuments have been better protected from the elements than others, as you can see from this very worn one here.  Indeed, of the inscription below the shield only a few letters on the upper left-hand part remain, and it is impossible to make out what the figures on the shield are anymore, but the crest of a griffin's head is quite distinctive!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Golden Pike, Heidelberg

So, continuing our wandering about the Altstadt, the Old City of Heidelberg, we ran across a hotel near the Old Bridge with a coat of arms and by the name Goldener Hecht.

It's a beautifully done carving, and the painting is also very well done.

Still, I thought, what does this have to do with a "golden pike," the translation of the name?  The arms, Gules three escutcheons Or, just didn't seem to match the name, so it's certainly not canting arms!  (For any non-heralds who may be reading this, in heraldry a "pike" generally refers to the fish and not to the polearm.  But as you can easily see, there are neither fish nor polearms on the arms.)

Well, just around the corner we found this.

It's not golden by any stretch of the imagination, and the paint here is much more weathered than the arms over the front door, but it helps to explain the name.

What a beautiful display of heraldry, even if it did confuse me a little at first.