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

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".

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