Monday, July 21, 2014

Heralds and Heraldry on the Internet

There is an overview of the new on-line exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library entitled Symbols of Honor: Heraldry and Family History, uploaded to the Library’s website in conjunction with the Symbols of Honor: Heraldry and Family History in Shakespeare's England, being held at the Library through October 26 of this year.  The links on that page go to separate sections, the whole forming the on-line exhibition.

The individual sections of this on-line exhibit include:
     The Medieval Heritage
     The Order of the Garter and The Garter King of Arms
     French Influences
     Tournaments and Armor
     Grants of Arms
     Shakespeare's Grant of Arms
     The Business of Heraldry 
     Badges, Mottoes, and Imprese
     Disputes within the College of Arms
     Heraldry for the Elite
     Heraldry for All
     Women's Heraldry
     The First Amateur Genealogists

You can find the Overview of this on-line exhibition on the Folger Shakespeare Library’s website at and you can learn more about the Heraldry and Family History in Shakespeare's England exhibit there at

There’s a bunch of other stuff of interest to heraldry enthusiasts on the site as well, and I think you’ll find it is well worth the time to click through and take a look.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Deceased Armiger in the News!

In a news article from July 8, 2014, in the New York Post comes the news that Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, the Viscount of Gálvez, 1746-1786, has been granted citizenship by the Congress of the United States of America.

Well, honorary citizenship, anyway.

The Viscount “played an integral role in the Revolutionary War and helped secure the independence of the United States,” says the resolution granting him citizenship.  His troops helped pin down British forces and block supply efforts, which earned him recognition from Gen. George Washington and the Continental Congress.

And now, the current Congress of the United States has recognized him, too.

“Honorary” citizenship has only been given to seven people, including Winston Churchill and more prominent Revolutionary heroes like the Marquis de Lafayette and Count Casimir Pulaski.  Gálvez, for whom Galveston, Texas is named, is the first Spanish speaker to receive this honor.

And what does this have to do with heraldry, you ask?  As a Viscount, Gálvez was, of course, armigerous.  (Just as the other honorary Americans named above were.)

There does seem to be a little confusion about his coat of arms.  While the images above come from a postage stamp issued by Spain and honoring him, showing a coat of arms, an armorial portrait of him …

… show a much more complex coat of arms.

Why the difference in these two depictions?  I suspect it’s just that the folks who issued the stamp were trying to keep it comparatively simple; they did only have so much space available, after all.  The portrait, on the other hand, is far more likely to show his complete coat of arms, including some quarterings with family connections on the shield.

But now we can add another individual to the ranks of armigerous Americans - Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid.

If you’d like to know more about Gálvez and his new honorary citizenship, the article on the site of the Post can be found at

Monday, July 14, 2014

People Who Don't Know Much About Heraldry ...

... shouldn't try to design a "coat of arms."

Of course, that's just my opinion, and I could be entirely wrong.

But I don't think so.

The HAC! team of Zitec, a Romanian software/web solutions company, has decided to celebrate the company's 10th anniversary by designing a new coat of arms (which incorporates Zitec's "coat of arms" as a major element).  Here's their design, and a brief explanation of each of the charges:

As you can see, they apparently decided to go with the "everything but the kitchen sink" school of heraldry in their design.

And though the elephants are described as "supporters," they look to me like not only are they not supporting the Zitec inescutcheon, they appear to be attacking it and are about to crush it under them.

I'd go into more detail about why this is poor heraldic design, but I probably don't really have to, do I?  (The fact that I ran across this image posted on Facebook in the "Heraldry Hall of Shame" group probably says as much or more about it as I can.)

Still, if you'd like to know more about this design, and what it means to Zitec, they have a page over on the Zitec blog you can check out at

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Herald in the News!

Or, at least, news about a herald.

Upon the recent retirement on June 30 of Henry Paston-Bedingfield (whom I have had the privilege over the years of meeting and hearing speak a couple of times) as Norroy and Ulster King of Arms, the College of Arms in London has announced the appointment of Timothy Hugh Stewart Duke to that office.  Mr. Duke was appointed Rouge Dragon Pursuivant on January 26, 1989, and has been Chester Herald since August 7, 1995.

More information on this appointment can be found on the website of the College of Arms at

According to the College’s website, there are now three vacancies among the officers of arms in ordinary: Chester Herald, Rouge Dragon Pursuivant, and Bluemantle Pursuivant.

I wonder what my chances would be if I expressed an interest in any of these offices?  I mean, really, traffic and the daily commute couldn’t be much worse in London than it is here in Dallas, could it?  And the public transportation system is so much better there than here.  Hmmm….

Monday, July 7, 2014

Individuals Added to the Heraldic Artists Websites Section

As part of my on-going endeavors to keep this blog as a resource for people looking for/looking at heraldry, I ran across a link the other day to a page with a number of artists, some of whom specialize in heraldry, and some to whom heraldry is only a part of what they do.

As a consequence, and after visiting their web pages, I have added a number of individuals from this listing to the Heraldic Artists Websites section here (down the left-hand side of this page).  I was happy to see that I had already linked to a good number of these artists; it's nice to know that they are deservedly being recognized by others for the quality of there heraldic work.  (Or in other words, it's not just me who thinks they do great work!)

So please feel free to check out the list of links here and visit their web pages to see what wonderful heraldic art these very talented people are turning out.

Or you can always drop by the Heraldic Artists and Other Allied Arts page on the website of The International Heraldry Society at and click the links from there.

Either way, it should be well worth your time!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Symbols That Represent the U.S.A. in Heraldry

The Spring 2014 edition of The Armiger’s News, the quarterly newsletter of the American College of Heraldry, asked the question: “What symbols/elements/flora/fauna best represent the USofA...?”
The most recent edition just out earlier this week published some of the responses to that question.  Included in those responses were a number of suggested items, including: redwood tree; American bison; Liberty (head only or entire body); the Liberty Bell; a cowboy or western hat; native American war bonnet; Mississippi river boat; corn cobs; American beaver; wild turkey; bighorn sheep; and mountain lion.
It’s an interesting list, though I think that it could certainly argued that the beaver is already very much used as a Canadian symbol, and thus doesn’t really represent the United States.  And a cowboy hat (blazoned a “a stetson hat,” though I believe that “Stetson” should be capitalized, it being the brand name of the company which makes them) has already been granted nearly 23 years ago (November 5, 1991) by the Canadian Heraldic Authority in the arms of the Calgary Petroleum Club, though I can certainly see it’s being a symbol of the American West as much as or more than a symbol of something Canadian (or even the Canadian West).

Also published in this edition of TAN was a detailed response, with examples of coats of arms, from me regarding the question put forward by the Editor.  What follows here is my (slightly edited) response to “What symbols/elements/flora/fauna best represent the USofA...?”
*     *     *
It has been my observation that the heraldic items that more or less instantly say “United States of America” to the viewer fall into three or four basic categories: (1) individual human figures (usually found as supporters) in distinctively American dress; (2) native birds and animals; (3) native plants, and (4) identifiably “American” architecture. To give specific examples of each of these (some in arms granted by an heraldic authority, most commonly the College of Arms in London, and some self-assumed):
We find both native Americans (American Indians) in their native garb and, for example, a general officer dressed in the uniform of the Confederate States of America being used as supporters. As examples of the first I give here the arms of New York City (whose sinister supporter is a native American), the arms of Hampton, Virginia (whose dexter supporter is one), and those of Kinston, North Carolina (whose sinister supporter is one).

As an example of the latter, we have the arms of Loudon County, Virginia, whose sinister supporter is a Confederate officer. It seems to me that all of these pretty clearly say “United States of America” without the need for any additional explanation.

In the category of native birds and animals, which may appear on the shield, in the crest, or as supporters, in addition to the bald eagle (for example, the crest of the arms of the Magnolia Building, mentioned below), the beaver (which is used more in Canada than here in the USA as a national symbol), or the moose, which appears in the arms of the State of Maine and as a supporter in the arms of the State of Michigan (this last along with an elk or wapiti), ...

we find the turkey supporters in the arms of Charles City County, Virginia, and the cardinal supporters in the arms of Prince George County, Virginia. The turkey especially has been associated with North America since early colonial days, and remains a potent symbol of the country.

The use of native plants, though less commonly used as symbols of the United States, can be found in a number of arms: a pine tree in the arms of the State of Maine (above); an American dogwood flower in the arms of Prince George County, Virginia (above); and a branch of a magnolia tree in the canting “arms” of the Magnolia Building, now the Magnolia Hotel, in Dallas, Texas.

And finally, the much rarer use of identifiably “American” architecture, such as the representation in the arms of the City of Topeka, Kansas, of – well, I’m not sure whether the building in the sinister chief is some kind of a barn or is a representation of a native American wickiup, and none of my on-line research has turned up a description of it. These arms also contain in base a representation of the dome of the state capitol building in Topeka, but I am uncertain that this (or other similar capitol domes sometimes found in other states) really says “United States,” given the use of similar domes in Europe (most notably on St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City in Italy).