Monday, August 31, 2015

Movie Clip About the U.S. Army's Institute of Heraldry

Ran across an old (1969, but I can't tell you how much it hurts me personally to say that something from 1969 is "old", given that I was in college at that time) YouTube movie clip (8 minutes) giving a bit of the history and work of the U.S. Army's Institute of Heraldry the other day.  Being that old, it's a bit dated, of course; for one thing, the TIoH is now based in Fort Belvoir, Virginia (still just a little outside of Washington, DC), and a lot less of their current work is related to the conflict the U.S. was then fighting in the former country of South Vietnam.

Anyway, I found the whole thing to be interesting, with a fair bit of heraldry and a good bit of the story of the Institute itself.

You can watch the clip on YouTube at


Thursday, August 27, 2015

And the Third (and Last, I Promise!) Heraldic Shirt

Well, my third (and last, at least for a while) shirt with heraldry has arrived, and it's a humdinger, if I do say so myself, with coronets, and crests, and supporters (oh, my!).

As I said before, at first glance many of the coats of arms appear to be British, although I've already noticed a few where the colors may not be accurate.  For example, the blue bend on the red field in the pictures below.  You can be sure that I'll be trying to track some of these down as soon as I get the time, just to see how real, or not, they are.  I'll let you know my findings when that happens.

Still and all, it's a nice heraldic shirt, and I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to wear it somewhere appropriate.

This will, however, be the last post for some time about the heraldry-related items that I've bought.  I promise!  (The truth is, I don't think I can afford to buy any more for a while; the budget won't stand it.)

Monday, August 24, 2015

As Promised, My _Other_ Recent Heraldic Acquisition

As I said last week when talking about my new acquisition of an heraldic shirt, I had another one on the way, and it has arrived!

As you can see, it's not crammed full of shields like the last one, and here most of the heraldry appears to be made up (several of the shields have the letters "TH" on them, presumably for the manufacturer, Tommy Hilfiger), but still, I think it's going to be a fun shirt to wear in the fall for cooler weather.

And in the time since I ordered these first two shirts, I've found yet another shirt with heraldry all over it, this time with what appear to be British arms with coronets of rank (I've spotted the coronets of both barons and viscounts in looking at the pictures of it), crests, and supporters.  I'll let you know all about it after it arrives (sometime this week, I think!).

If the pattern of shields doesn't repeat itself too closely, it's possible that I could even give a short talk on the identification of the coats of arms on it, to include a brief discussion of the owners of each coat.  (As was suggested one time that I could do with one of my heraldic ties.)

I'll let you know when it gets here!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Another Heraldic Find

Once again, I don't even have to go looking for it to run across heraldry, even here in what you might think at first blush is an heraldic desert.  Or, more specifically, Fort Worth, Texas.

I was attending and participating in a commemorative ceremony for a former Civil War soldier over in Fort Worth the other day, and as I pulled up behind a pickup truck parked on the street in front of Pioneers Rest Cemetery where he is buried, I saw this in the back window:

I'm not certain what it represents; I think it may be related to a specific Boy Scout troop, or perhaps a recreationist organization. (The owner of the truck is involved with both.)

Still, it just goes to show that sometimes, you just can't help practically tripping over heraldry (of one sort or another) wherever you go, no matter whether you're looking for it or not!

Monday, August 17, 2015

A New Heraldic Acquisition

I've been collecting clothing with coats of arms on it -- tshirts, baseball caps, ties -- for quite some time now. And I've shared a number of these items with you over the years.  And, of course, I'm always on the lookout for new items to add to these collections.

But this latest acquisition is a new one for me; it's a regular, long-sleeved, button-down shirt, not a tshirt.  And it's absolutely, literally covered with coats of arms.

I'd seen, and purchased, it on-line last week, and it arrived on Saturday.  Imagine my happiness at opening the package and unfolding this!

Isn't it great!  (But I think that if I'm going to ever wear it with a tie, I'll have to go out a buy a plain one; all of the ties I already own have too much of a pattern to go well with a shirt like this!)

I can hardly wait to make an opportunity to wear it.

I've got another heraldic shirt purchased and on its way.  I'll be sure to share it when it arrives, too.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Piece of Royal Worcester Heraldry

The article itself doesn't seem to have a whole lot to do with heraldry; it's about the 200-plus year old diary of one of the founders of Royal Worcester porcelain, John Flight, and how it details how he went to France following the revolution there in 1789 to spy upon French porcelain makers and steal their secrets.

Heady stuff, historically interesting, but not really heraldry, right?

But if you scroll down to near the bottom of the article, they have a picture of a piece from a breakfast set made by Royal Worcester in 1804 for then-Baron (Horatio) Nelson of the Nile, with his doubly-augmented coat of arms on it (along with his two crests).

If you are interested, this old (2012) article, "Diary of Royal Worcesters porcelain maker details how he STOLE trade secrets from French potters after Revolution," can be found on the website of the Daily Mail at

And on that note, I will leave you with one of my favorite heraldic poems, from C.W. Scott-Giles' volume Motley Heraldry, with his take on the Nelson arms:

These arms the Nelsons bore in days of old:
A black cross flory on a shield of gold,
And over all a bendlet gules, to show
Due difference from Samson and Lamplow.

When one Horatio Nelson rose to fame,
With ‘Sir’ and ‘K.B.’ bracketing his name,
The Kings of Arms his scutcheon did resplend
With three exploding bombs upon the bend.

Later, they gave Lord Nelson of the Nile
An augmentation in a lavish style –
A ship disabled and a fort destroyed
(Which probably the Baron much enjoyed.)

When Viscount Nelson of the Nile at last
Beyond the reach of earthly honours passed,
His brother (made an Earl), the heralds gave
The golden word TRAFALGAR on a wave.

The shield is a fine biographic gloss,
But where, alas! is Nelson’s ancient cross?

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Wrong Heraldry Can Be Deadly

In certain times and places, at least, bearing a particular coat of arms could kill you.  No, really!

As explained in the article "Artificial Arms" by David Gelber of The Time Literary Supplement:

On January 13, 1547, as Henry VIII lay close to death, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was brought to the Guildhall and arraigned for treason. His offence: the misappropriation of the arms of Edward the Confessor, with the intent of disrupting the succession and depriving the King's son and lawful heir of the throne. It mattered little that the arms the nobleman stood accused of usurping were a fifteenth-century fabrication (it was only a hundred years after the sainted King's death that the first examples of heraldry appeared). The discovery in the earl's house at Kenninghall of escutcheons of the Confessor's apocryphal arms provided the cabal led by Thomas and Edward Seymour, uncles to the future Edward VI, with the evidence it needed to eliminate a putative enemy. Surrey himself conspired in the fiction that fixed his doom. Far from protesting that the arms were merely a chronicler's invention, he insisted on his family's immortal right to them by gift of King Edward [the Confessor, not Edward Tudor, soon to be Edward VI] himself. These arguments made little impression. A common jury, swayed by the insistence of - among others - Edward Barker, Garter King of Arms, that Surrey had no claim to the arms in question, found him guilty of treason. Six days later he was beheaded.

So be very careful about which emblems you display on your coat of arms if the current monarch is a bit paranoid about his status because he's only the second generation of his family to sit on the throne, and has a tendency to overreact to any threats, real or only perceived, to that status.  You have been warned!

The rest of this very readable article describes in narrative form many of the chapters by different authors in the book I spoke of once again in my last post, Heralds and Heraldry in Shakespeare's England, edited by Nigel Ramsay.

The entire article is well worth the read, and if it piques your interest sufficiently to go out and obtain a copy of the full book yourself, well, then, my work here is done.

Mr. Gelber's article can be found on the website of The Times Literary Supplement at

Thursday, August 6, 2015

You've (Sometimes) Got to Love Modern Technology!

So I was continuing my reading in Heralds and Heraldry in Shakespeare’s England, ed. by Nigel Ramsay (for more information on this book, see my post of December 25, 2014 at, specifically Chapter 12,  ‘Heraldry and Alternate Emblematic Forms in the Age of Shakespeare’, by Alan R. Young.  It's an interesting article, and speaks a little about badges and more about impresse, emblems or devices which were adopted and used somewhat coats of arms, but rather than being hereditary were often devised for a specific event.

The article has numerous footnotes, and I thought to myself, "Some of those books sound interesting!  I wonder if I can find any of them scanned and uploaded on the internet?"  Well, I looked, and now my reading list has increased by a fair bit.  How cool is that?  We live in an age where you can see a book referenced in an article, go on-line, and find and download that book to your computer or electronic reader, all from the comfort of your own home/desk/couch.  Sometimes, you've just got to love all this modern technology!

Since I believe that I might not be the only person interested in acquiring digital copies of these books, I share here with you their titles and the links where I found them, and from where you can read  and/or download them yourselves in a number of digital formats.


The Art of Making Devises by Henry Estienne, translated into English by Thomas Blount, 1646 (the link is to the 1648 edition)
Historic Devices, Badges, and War-cries by Mrs. Bury Palliser, 1820 (link is to the 1870 edition)
Minerva Britanna by Henry Peacham, 1612
Heraldic Badges by A.C. Fox-Davies, 1907
Devises Héroiques by Claude Paradin, 1557 (link is to the 1614 edition)
Dialogo dell’imprese militari et amorose by Paolo Giovio, 1555 (link to the 1574 edition)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Pictures of Heralds (and a Lot of Others)

Saw a series of photographs over the weekend, an exhibit called "The Queen's People," an exhibition of a series of photographs by Hugo Rittson Thomas, that was really petty cool.  Each subject, if you'll pardon the pun (or even if you won't!), including Her Majesty Elizabeth II, was photographed "in the round" in that you can see front, back, and both sides.  (It was all done with mirrors and careful placement of the lights.

The photographs of particular interest to heraldry enthusiasts are number 28, the Earl Marshal (who is the heralds' "boss"), number 29, Thomas Woodcock, Garter Principal King of Arms, in full uniform and tabard, with baton (below) (the captioning has some pretty gross errors.  The photograph below was captioned "Gater King," which makes him sound like the ruler of a Louisiana swamp!  Though, of course, that would be "Gator King"), and number 26, Michael O'Donoghue, York Herald.

You can find the entire series on-line on the website of The Telegraph at and a smaller selection (but with fewer errors in the captions!) at the website of The Guardian at

Don't forget to look at all of the photographs there; it's a great series, and you really get to see a lot of the people who work for the Queen in one capacity or another.