The alphabet is one set of arbitrary symbols. The figures of heraldry are another set of arbitrary symbols. In the fourteenth century every gentleman knew one: in the twentieth century every gentleman knows the other. The first gentleman was just precisely as ignorant for not knowing that c-a-t spells "cat," as the second gentleman is for not knowing that a St. Andrew's Cross is called a cross saltire, or that vert on gules is bad heraldry. -- G.K. Chesterson
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, July 6, 2015
Some Heraldry for an Anniversary
The July 4 date just passed got me to thinking about the foundational document of the United States of America, the Declaration of Independence, issued 239 years ago. The publication of the Declaration was followed closely by the establishment of a committee to design a seal and coat of arms for the newly-declared nation.
It took a little while -- three committees and another couple of individuals -- before that seal, and the coat of arms, was finally adopted. I've written an article about the history of the attempts to design a coat of arms for the United States which can be found at http://appletonstudios.com/Congress2014DBA.pdf
Over the years, the arms of the U.S. have been subject to interpretation by any number of artists in a number of different media, and I thought that today I would share some of my favorites with you. Some old ....
The die of the new seal cut in 1782 (and so, of course, in reverse).
This print from 1889. (Note that it has 18 white and red stripes, not the official 13.)
Some newer ...
The bow of a model of the USS New York, a naval cruiser from the late 1800s.
On the facade of the San Diego, California, Museum of Art. (But, of course, the official arms do not have stars on the chief, so that is an error here, as well as in some of the other depictions in this post.)
On the gates to the cemetery for Union casualties during the American Civil War at Vicksburg, Mississippi.
In mosaic at the Rhone American Cemetery in Draguinan, France, for American soldiers killed nearby during World War II.
A couple of Art Deco interpretations done in the 1930s.
On the Kensington, Pennsylvania, old Post Office building.
On the High Point, North Carolina, old Post Office building.
And some where someone has used the arms of the United States humorously ...
The "seal" of Big Bird from Sesame Street.
And a protest against what the artist thought is the overreach of the National Security Agency, substituting a new set of words for the "S" in "NSA".