Thursday, April 28, 2016

It's Always Sad ...

... when the press (whether print or electronic), the supposed defenders of our liberties, just doesn't seem able to get some of the most basic facts of a story straight.

In this particular case, it was an April 26, 2016 follow-up story by Simon Barbato on the Econsultancy website of the controversy surrounding the Scottish Airdrieonians football club's armorial logo and why they may be required by law to change it.  (I have noted this controversy before at and  Mention is also made of the unauthorized use of arms (also in Scotland) by the town of Deal and its football club, and by Donald Trump.

The biggest problem with the story that I had is that the author has confused events occurring in Scotland, under the jurisdiction of the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms, with that of the College of Arms in London, whose jurisdiction does not include Scotland.

He then goes on to note that these events in Scotland could now somehow affect football clubs "south of the border" in England, despite the fact that the laws (and the ability to enforce those laws) are entirely different in England than they are in Scotland.

I think it's great that he did a little research and spoke with Richmond Herald at the College of Arms, but to have so completely missed the actual body tasked with enforcing the heraldic laws of Scotland left me with the impression that the whole article was nothing more than a "puff piece" and hardly worth the effort to read it all the way through.

(The fact that at one point he talks about some of the club badges being in the form of "shielded crests" didn't help his credibility with me. It's bad enough to mistakenly call a coat of arms a "crest," but to call one a "shielded crest" just about sent me over the edge.)

Your mileage may vary, however, and if you'd like to see it for yourself, it can be found on-line at

Monday, April 25, 2016

In Celebration of an Anniversary

Saturday, April 23, 2016, marked the 400th anniversary of the death of this armigerous fellow:

William Shakespeare's application for, and grant of, arms (nominally on behalf of his father, John, but of course he would naturally inherit them upon his father's death) caused a bit of controversy among some of the heralds in the College of Arms. Ralph Brooke, York Herald, thought Shakespeare unworthy of being granted arms, calling him "Shakespear ye Player" in his opposition to the grant by Garter King of Arms.

But really, the heraldry isn't the main thing about today's post. What today's post is about is to point you to a great six-and-a-half minute video of a series of actors (and one other individual) during a performance of Shakespeare Live! at the Royal Shakespeare Company discussing (well, okay, declaiming) how to properly deliver the first line of Hamlet's famous soliloquy, "To be or not to be, that is the question." The entire skit is entitled "A Line of Hamlets."

I'm not about to give the ending away, but you should certainly go out and see this one for yourself.

The link is:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Good Response

A recent (April 15, 2016) Letter to the Editor of the The Herald in Scotland responds to an editorial attacking the role of the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms in protecting and regulating coats of arms in that kingdom. The editorial seems to have said that the Court is outdated.

The author (rightly, in my opinion, but then again, I may be a little biased!) notes that intellectual property (trademarks, copyright, and brands names, for example) are protected by law, and that heraldry is the "oldest form of intellectual property" and thus equally worthy of protection.

Not everyone agrees; there are two comments as of this writing, one of which objects to the much higher cost of a grant from Lord Lyon versus registering a trademark, and the other which accepts that argument and suggests that arms be registered as trademarks and the Court of the Lord Lyon be abolished. (The latter clearly does not understand the differences between heraldry - which can take on a variety of forms depending upon the artist - and trademarks - which protect a specific image, among other things.)

It's a well-reasoned and stated letter.  You can find it in its entirety on the website of The Herald (does anyone else find this name ironic given the subject matter of the editorial? I certainly do!) at

Monday, April 18, 2016

I Had No Idea ...

... that this would go on for so long, or take on a life of its own (as it seems to have done).

What is "it," you ask?

Well, a number of years ago when I was far more active in the Society for Creative Anachronism* than I am now, our local group was having a heraldic consultation day, to help members in the area design coats of arms for themselves to use at events within the Society. Unfortunately, at this consultation day, there were more heralds than consultees, and the six of us (yes, I was one of the "Six Bored Heralds") gave ourselves a challenge: to design a coat of arms consisting of a field and a single charge which would be too complex to register under the rules of heraldry for the SCA. What we came up with was this:

The blazon for this monstrosity is: Gyronny, lozengy or and gules, and vair, a mascle throughout counterchanged. As I noted, a field and a single charge.

It was a fun thing to do at the time, it broke up the boredom a bit, and we all had a good laugh. And thought that would pretty much be the end of it.

I had no idea at the time, and I suspect that none of us did, that it would take on a life of its own, get its own name, or get onto the internet with the story of its creation (and even the arrangement of the lozengy and vair gyrons) slightly skewed. But there it was, big as life (or perhaps even bigger than life) out there for all the world to see. Someone even wrote a song about it.

You can see that song, and a bit more, on-line at

I'd say I'm sorry, but again, it was a fun thing to do at the time. And it does demonstrate some of the awfulness that can be designed if you don't keep your heralds sufficiently busy, and they start giving themselves a challenge.

* People often ask what "Society for Creative Anachronism" means. I always tell them that it means that you should never, ever, let a young and budding science fiction author name your group.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Well, It's Better Heraldry, But ....

In a recent (April 7, 2016) article on the Independent website, there's a bit of a reaction to the change to their arms-like badge by Aston Villa Football Club. I have to say, I think the change makes for better heraldry, but did they really have to pay £80,000 for it? (Heck, I would have done it for half that, and even at that rate I think they would have been getting ripped off. But what do I know?)

As you can see in these "before" (left) and "after" (right) images, they removed the word "Prepared" from the base of the shield (leading to much commentary about them no longer being "prepared"), allowing more room to make the lion larger (and a bit fiercer; he's now got his teeth and claws out, much more like a typical heraldic lion, and his mane and furry bits are a bit spikier, as well).

This is not to say that I think it's the best heraldic design - maroon on blue isn't an ideal combination of colors - but it's certainly an improvement. I just don't think it was worth the price they paid for it.

The full story (and comments) can be found on-line at the Independent at

Monday, April 11, 2016

Don't Forget!

A recent correspondent had requested I send him a list of good heraldry reference books as well as a list of rare but especially nice to have heraldry books. In my reply, I noted that I wasn't including a number of volumes which I thought were very good but which had been digitized and were available for free on the internet. My rationale was that, while some of these were very nice, could they really be considered as "rare," since they were freely available to anyone who looked for them.

In any case, he asked me to send him a list of some of these, and I realized that I actually had the ones I was thinking of listed here on the blog, under the sections "Some Good On-Line Armorials and Ordinaries" and "Some Good On-Line Heraldry Books."

So today's post is just a short reminder: be sure to check out the links down the left-hand side of this blog. There are some real jewels of heraldry and heraldic art linked there, and you might find it of interest to check at least some of them out.

As I was creating my list to send to my correspondent, I did find one link that no longer worked. I have updated that link (to John Guillim's A Display of Heraldrie) so that it takes you to the book, where it can be read on-line or downloaded for looking at later.  I will continue to update links which no longer work as I find them.

Thanks for dropping by, and don't forget to check out the links here!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Employment Opportunity

Having just retired (a little earlier than I had intended, but still ...) myself, I'm not especially interested in moving to another country to begin another job, yet this recent (April 4, 2016) posting has certainly piqued my interest.

It seems that the College of Arms in London (that's a photo of me visiting the College back in 1996) has an opening for a research assistant which has the potential to lead to a position as an officer of arms (presumably in ordinary, rather than extraordinary) there.  The announcement for this posting starts:

The College of Arms is seeking to recruit a research assistant for a period of six to twelve months. The successful candidate will learn how to deal with heraldic and genealogical enquiries arising from members of the public and various organisations, how to process applications for new grants of arms and about other work undertaken by the College. Upon completion of this period, the candidate will be assessed with a view to appointment as an officer of arms.


The role would suit a candidate with strong research and communication skills and with an interest in heraldic and genealogical matters.


Excellent academic credentials;
Excellent analytical and drafting skills;
First-rate communication skills (oral and written) and approachability;
Enthusiastic, adaptable and able to learn quickly;
Reliable and flexible nature;
Professionalism and ability to work independently with minimal supervision;
Ability to deal directly with members of the public;
Ability to establish a wide network of contacts.


Some professional experience in any area;
Knowledge and experience of heraldry and genealogy;
Other skills, such as knowledge of British and Commonwealth history, languages and legal matters.


The College is open to flexible working arrangements and the successful candidate may work on a full-time or part-time basis (minimum of two days per week). The role will be based at the College of Arms. The work will be remunerated at a rate of £15 per hour (minimum £10,000 p.a.).

Applicants should send a covering letter and CV to The application period is from 4 April until 22 April 2016.

If you are interested, additional information can be found on the website of the College at

Good luck!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Heraldry Is Where You Find It

And you can, apparently, find it anywhere!

We had been in Las Vegas, Nevada, doing a bunch of stuff for my elderly mother. One of the things in that "stuff" was cleaning and organizing her house. During that effort, I ran across this little heraldic item:

It's a bronze medallion from the February 10, 1986 dedication of a new wing to the Southern Nevada Vocational Technical Center (usually called Vo-Tech then and when my mother taught there, but now it is renamed the Southeast Career Technical Academy, SECTA or Tech).

The heraldry on the medallion is pretty typical of what I've come to expect for the arms-like logos of educational institutions in the United States; that is to say, not great.

I am assuming that the very narrow cross and bordure in the design are designed to be detailing, and not actual charges on the field. The quarterly field has: 1, an open book surmounted by a feather (presumably supposed to be a quill pen) bendwise; 2, a roadrunner (the real thing, not the one from the cartoons which Wile E. Coyote is always trying to kill with all those wonderful contraptions he buys from the Acme Corporation); 3, a sun charged with a "V" (if you were to try to guess the weather in Las Vegas without first looking it up, if you were to say "sunny," you would be correct more than 95% of the time), the "V" presumably standing for "Vocational." the other mark within the V may be meant to be a "T" for Technical, but it is not clearly that either on the medallion or in the scan; and 4, a standing balance (more usually associated with the law and lawyers; I don't know if the school had a pre-law program, so I'm not sure if that's why it appears on this shield). The crest is, naturally enough, a lamp of knowledge.

All this to demonstrate once again that you truly can find heraldry everywhere!