Thursday, May 30, 2013

Some More Heraldic Humor

Okay, while I'm still thinking about them, I'll do another one of Jay Rudin's "extraordinaries" of which I found real-life heraldic examples.

This one he blazoned as a "chief couped."

And he had another one that he called a "quarter in nombril point."

And the arms that I found that seems to combine both of those "extraordinaries" was the arms of von Ruesdorf, also from Siebmacher's Wappenbuch von 1605.

Das Grosse Buch der Wappenkunst blazons this charge as das Orth, 2/7 der Schildbreite; basically it's a delf or billet issuant from center chief, 2/7 the width of the shield but extending to the fess line.  So it's not a perfect match for the joke charge, but it is a reasonable facsimile of the combination of two of them.

Who'd have thought?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Some Heraldic Humor

I was reminded a few days ago of some heraldic jokes that one of my early heraldic mentors, Jay Rudin, created some years ago.  (Have you ever noticed that many heralds seem to have a really wicked sense of humor?  Many of the ones that I know, both professional and amateur, seem to have one.  It's sometimes kept mostly hidden, but when it does appear, it's usually both intelligent and funny at the same time.  But I digress.)

As I say, I was reminded of some heraldic jokes which he called "extraordinaries" that Jay had drawn up.  Some were simply different interpretations of heraldic blazon, such as this one, which he blazoned as Ten lozenges in pile.

Others were an heraldic treatment applied to a different heraldic charge, for example, "a gore in its piety."  It was all very amusing, until one day while doing some research, I found some actual examples of Jay's extraordinaries used in real coats of arms.  The first one that I ran across (and I'll share a few of the others in the future) was this one, which Jay had blazoned a "fylfess," that is to say, a fess couped whose ends were treated like the arms of a fylfot (what is blazoned in German a halbrueckenkreuz).

Then, in Siebmacher's Wappenbuch von 1605, I saw the arms of Koelderer.

The first and fourth quarters, Gules, two "fylfesses" in pale Argent, right?  And on the crest, too?  You mean it's not a joke charge?  Well, I'll be.

I have tried to find what the charge is actually blazoned, but it doesn't seem to appear in my favorite "go-to" book for German blazon, Das Grosse Buch der Wappenkunst.  So I don't know what it's actually named in German.  But still, who'd have thought that an heraldic joke would turn out to be a real heraldic charge?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Oh, My!

It's possible that this would have caught my eye anyway, seeing as it is heraldry, of a sort.  But since one of my grandsons (I know, I know!  I look too young to have grandchildren, don't I?) is, or was, an enthusiast, I had a double interest in this coat of arms.

This is for guys who like My Little Pony; they call themselves "Bronys" (presumably from combining "bro" or "brother" with "pony" ... "Brony.")  (He's since gone into an intense Dr. Who phase, so I don't know how closely he follows Brony-dom currently.)

Anyway, it was just too, umm, too, well, umm, yeah, too.  So I felt I just had to share it with all of you.

Please accept my apologies for any eye damage.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Heraldry in the News!

There was a nice article recently in the pages of The Whig-Standard (through its on-line edition) about recent repairs to, and a history of, the large (8' x 5' with its wooden base, and weighing 400 pounds) embroidered coat of arms (though the paper incorrectly calls it a "crest") of Queen's University at Kingston in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.  For those of you interested in a history of the university, founded in 1841, you can see more, as well as another rendition of the university's arms, at

The creator of the embroidered coat, Carolyn Pickering, is shown above doing a little repair work on it.  She originally created it over the course of three months some 40 years ago as a dramatic centerpiece for some of the activities of the University, such as convocations.

The full story, and more details about the embroidered coat of arms, its history, and how many men it takes to move it, can be found on-line at

Thursday, May 16, 2013

If I've Said It Once ...

... I've said it a thousand times:  "Don't exaggerate!"  No, wait, that's not what I've said.  What I've said is:

"You can find heraldry (or heraldry-like logos) everywhere."

The last time we were visiting Chicago (a great town for architecture, as well as history, good food, and good friends), as we were driving around we spotted the following logos from the car.

The first was the coat of arms on the facade of York Furrier.

As you can see, it's a bit of a mash-up, with what almost looks more like a "sash sinister" than it does a bend sinister, a crown in base whose posture is probably best described as bendwise, an English esquire's helm with a crest of a rampant more-than-demi unicorn holding something between a pair of Germanic-style buffalo horns.

The other was very much an "arms-like logo" on the canopy over the door of Bath Crest.

Here, the bend sinister is unambiguous, between the capital letters B and C.  On the other hand, I'm not at all certain what the thing above the shield, where one would normally expect a helm and crest (or sometimes just a crest) is supposed to be.  (In conjunction with the name, it reminds me of a toilet seat and lid edge on, but probably is just me.)

So as I said, you can find heraldry everywhere!  Even just driving down the streets of a major city in the American midwest.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Gore Roll of Arms, Again

I like to talk about the Gore roll of arms every now and again, simply because it is my belief, based on many interactions with heraldry enthusiasts here in the United States and around the world, that far too few people even know of its existence, and of those that do, the majority are only aware of it through the most widely available, but flawed, source.

The Gore roll is a roll of arms which was created in the mid-1700s containing color reproductions of arms dating back to the early 1700s, created by the Gore family of sign and herald painters in colonial Boston, Massachusetts.  You can find the presentation I gave on the Gore roll at the International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences held in Bruges, Belgium in 2004 at  (The illustrations in that .pdf are black and white line drawings which I created, since the full-color illustrations from the Gore roll are held in copyright by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, which owns the roll.)  Still, you can get an idea of the roll from the photograph below, taken when I was able to visit the NEHGS and given a peek at the original.

As I mention in the article noted above, most people get their knowledge of the Gore roll from the publications of William Whitmore in the mid-19th Century.  Unfortunately, there are errors at two levels in those publications, in that they (1) were done from an imperfect copy of the roll (to be fair to him, the original had disappeared at that time, and was only rediscovered in the 1930s) and not the original, and (2) Whitmore introduced some additional errors of his own.

When the original was rediscovered in the possession of some Gore family descendants, it was purchased from them by Dr. Harold Bowditch of the NEHGS, and remains in their holdings today.  Dr. Bowditch did a good review of the roll which was published in the The Rhode Island Register, the journal of the Rhode Island Historical Society.  The trouble, of course, is that copies of that review (or a later 1983 reprint) are hard to find except in the very best genealogical libraries.

In an effort to try to make information about this unique historical American roll of arms a little more widely available, I wrote a new volume about it and published it myself.  This most recent review of the Gore roll is the first to include illustrations of all of the arms contained in it, as well as containing Whitmore's and Dr. Bowditch's writings about it along with some additional information and illustrations of other usages of some of the arms in the roll.  (I would have included color reproductions of the arms, but the cost to obtain the necessary permissions would have meant that I would have had to at the very least double the price of the book, and it's already more expensive than I would like as it is.  So, black and white line drawings it is!)

If you'd like more information about this roll of arms beyond the .pdf article noted above, you can see more, including sample pages - and buy the book - at

Thursday, May 9, 2013

And Speaking of the State of Vermont ...

What had led me to the follow-up story about the Vermont coat of arms with a pig as one of the cow's spots was a comment in an April 28, 2013 article on entitled In This State: The branding of Vermont, wherein they interview Scott Reilly, an archivist at the Vermont State Archives in Middlesex, and give a nice history of the coat of arms of the state, complete with illustrations of various depictions through the years.

My personal favorite example from the article is this one, full of bright colors and depth and plenty of gilding, but others pay prefer some of the historical examples, ranging in date from 1779 to 1903.

Interestingly, it wasn't until 1862 (right in the middle of the American Civil War) that Vermont codified a description of the state's coat of arms: The fields and trees are green, the sky yellow, the Green Mountains blue. A pine tree dominates the center, flanked by three sheaves of wheat and a red cow. The crest is a buck's head with antlers, and two crossed pine branches appear at the base and sides. A ribbon bearing the motto "Freedom and Unity" floats across the base.

I could probably add a lot more here, but it would continue to be duplicative of the article.  If you'd like to know more about the origins and history of the landscape coat of arms of the State of Vermont, feel free to follow the link here to the article and read it for yourself.  It can be found on-line at

Monday, May 6, 2013

An Overdue Follow-Up

This is a little overdue, but I didn't see the follow-up to my earlier post until very recently.

I had blogged about the inmates at a correctional institution who had made the cow on the Vermont coat of arms decal to be placed on state police cruisers into a spotted cow; specifically, one with a spot shaped like a pig.  That post can be found at

Now I've run across a news story from shortly after that which noted that the police were closing the case.

State officials said female inmates at the prison work center in Windsor are responsible for altering the state seal back in November 2009, putting pigs on the side of Vermont state police cruisers, but exactly who did it may remain a mystery.  "At this point all we can tell is how many women had access to the file, and who they were," Corrections Commissioner Andy Pallito said. "Really being able to tell who manipulated the file last is virtually impossible without somebody stepping forward and saying I did it."

The story noted that one group was hoping to keep the image alive. They've created a Facebook page called "Save the Vermont Pigs," and had upwards of 1,000 fans.  "It is a really good opportunity for us to band together as Vermonters and show that we can have a laugh in a little bit of an awkward situation, and it is certainly not the first time we have done that," says Cid Sinclair with Save the Vermont Pigs.  Sinclair said this was prank could be used to do some good. He would like to see the decals auctioned off-- an idea that has the support of Lt. Governor Phil Scott.

There's a bit more in the story, of course, along with some pictures of the decals and a close-up of the offending pig spot.  You can read the whole thing on-line at

I have to admit, I'd be tempted to buy one of those decals myself!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Little More Heraldry in Heidelberg

Okay, barring something unforeseen (like me finding some more photographs of heraldry in the city that I just have to share with you!), this should be the last installment of some of the heraldry that we saw in the city of Heidelberg during our stay there last fall.


Every time I look at this display of heraldry I see something new.  I love the "realistic" depiction of the ermine tails on the mantle.  And the inescutcheon of Bavaria with a smaller inescutcheon denoting the King of Bavaria as a Prince Elector of the Holy Roman Empire.  And the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece.  Among other things.

The armorial display above is a great example of the German use of multiple crests to go with (at least some of) the quarters in the arms.

A beautifully simple coat of arms!