An uncle of mine by marriage, who was a very distinguished historian, once asked me, when I was a young man, whether I was interested in Heraldry. I said that I was not. ‘I'm glad of that,” he said, “heraldry strikes me as being for a historian about on the same level of interest as stamp collecting.” – Maurice Keen, in the Preface to Origins of the English Gentleman
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.
I recently ran across an article I hadn't seen before about an old heraldic roll of arms that had been found in a London antique shop o...
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Genealogical Speakers Guild
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.