“How deceived I have been … From your letters [of presentation] I understood you to be an ambassador, but all I got was a herald….” (Elizabeth I, responding to a young and importunate ambassador from the King of Poland who spoke out of turn and in inappropriate language, 1597)
I'm an Academic Herald. I'm not a "real" herald; I don't register people's coats of arms (though I can certainly suggest designs for those who might be interested). What I do is study, research, teach, and write about heraldry. And I like to share what I have learned about heraldry, hence this blog. I hope that you'll find it informative, interesting at least occasionally, and worth your time to come back. Got a question? Comments? Feel free to let me know. I'd love to hear from you. You can find my contact information in my Profile.
This is what happens when an heraldic artist has never seen anything more than a very rough description of an heraldic beast when painting ...
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Monday, April 14, 2014
I Really Don't Think I Understand
No, really, I don't think I understand the reasoning. If a logo is not the least bit heraldic, then why place it on a shield shape? What can the motivation for that be? It's not like the standard heater shield shape is at all intuitive, not like a square, or a rectangle, circle, or oval is. And yet, I regularly see non-heraldic logos placed on shields.
The example that got me to thinking about this anomaly was on a business card that I picked up several years ago while attending a conference on heraldry in North Carolina. As an adjunct to that conference, those attendees who wished had the opportunity to visit the rare books collection at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Since I'm never one to pass up the opportunity to peruse old books, I went along. But while there, my eye was caught by the UNC Greensboro logo on the business cards there.
And here's a sharper version from the University's website:
See what I mean? I find myself regularly drawn to shield shapes, since I'm always on the lookout for heraldry and its use in the United States today and in the past. But this isn't heraldry, is it? Yes, it's on a shield shape, but that is its only relationship to a coat of arms.
The colors of the logo are the school colors: gold, white, and navy blue. The date, 1891, refers to the school's establishment (at that time, as the State Normal and Industrial School. It's had several name changes since then). The primary figure I first took to be Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, but it may simply be a representation of "Spiro, the Spartan," the student body there being the Spartans. (As was the student body at my old college, Michigan State University. But our colors were green and white.) The figure being female, it may also refer back to the university's founding as a women's college.
But for all of that, it's not heraldry. So why is it on a shield? (And its not even an old Greek shield, or a roundel, which would at least keep the theme of "Spartans" going. But a heater shield? Not so much.) To steal a line from the movie Shakespeare In Love, "It's a mystery."