Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Heraldry "Bucket Shop" Bites the Dust

In an announcement made yesterday, December 19, 2016, the Castle Heraldry Shoppe (I have to admit, I'm a little surprised that they didn't name it "Ye Olde Heraldrie Shoppe." I guess I should be grateful that they didn't) in Fantasyland at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, will be closing on January 12, 2017.

Open since 1994, the place is one of those "bucket shops" where you could look up your surname in the set of books they have there ...

... and if it was listed there, you could find the "history of your surname" and get "your family crest" printed out on all kinds of merchandise and souvenirs from fancy scrolls and armorial plaques to flags and replica swords.

Unfortunately, of course, like all bucket shops, there is never anything to suggest that you yourself have any right at all to the "crest" that they are selling you. The example that I often use when explaining heraldry to genealogists is that I have the surname Warren on both my father's and my mother's side of the family tree. Burke's General Armory (one of the sources used by many of these bucket shop heraldists) has over sixty different coats of arms linked with various Warrens. Which one of these, if any, belong to any of the Warrens in my family tree? There is simply no way of knowing without doing the genealogical research. And the one "family crest" that these shops are likely to sell me is very unlikely to be one actually used in my family.

So all in all I really can't say that I'm sorry that this shop is going to be closing soon. It's possible that over the years they sparked some interest in heraldry, but that little bit of good is not, to my mind, outweighed by the greater numbers of people who believed that what they were being sold was somehow related to their family line.

You can read some more about this story and see some more pictures of the "shoppe" on the website of The Orange County Register at http://www.ocregister.com/articles/shop-738876-castle-family.html

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