The alphabet is one set of arbitrary symbols. The figures of heraldry are another set of arbitrary symbols. In the fourteenth century every gentleman knew one: in the twentieth century every gentleman knows the other. The first gentleman was just precisely as ignorant for not knowing that c-a-t spells "cat," as the second gentleman is for not knowing that a St. Andrew's Cross is called a cross saltire, or that vert on gules is bad heraldry. -- G.K. Chesterson
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.
This is what happens when an heraldic artist has never seen anything more than a very rough description of an heraldic beast when painting ...
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Monday, December 19, 2016
Heraldry Is Where You Find It
Once again, it seems, that you can find heraldry all about you, even in the relative heraldic desert that is the United States.
I have to thank my wife Jo for this one. (It's wonderful to have someone who supports my hobby in this way!) She was sharing a ride with a friend as they ran a few errands on their way to the monthly meeting of the Dallas Fiber Artists Guild, and as they were driving out of a parking garage, Jo asked her friend to "Stop!" She then hopped out of the car, took a photograph of the decal on a parked car that she then emailed to me, and which I can now share with you:
It is the arms-like logo of Founders Classical Academy in Lewisville, Texas. (There are a number of Founders Classical Academies across Texas, but this particular quasi-armorial device I only found affiliated with the one in Lewisville, a few miles north of Dallas.)
I also found an embroidered version of the logo on-line:
The design is an odd mix of heraldic and pseudo-heraldic: the underlying elements are a plain gold shield with mantling (vert turned or) without a helmet, torse, or crest. Overlying that plain shield is a variation of the arms of the United States - adding seven stars to the chief - with an American bald eagle supporter (also like the arms of the U.S.) but instead of bearing in its talons an olive branch (dexter) and a sheaf of thirteen arrows (sinister), this eagle bears three arrows in its dexter talon and a key in its sinister. Below the gold shield is a scroll with the motto Scientia Virtus et Libertas (which they say is, in English, "Knowledge, Virtue, Liberty," but which my Latin to English translator [well, translators; I tried more than one with the same results] turns into "Knowledge is power and freedom").
I'm thinking that someone unintentionally missed the target in this design, but they clearly did not have more than a passing knowledge of heraldry. It is an error to have mantling without a helm or torse, and placing one shield (with supporter) partially over another shield demonstrates a misunderstanding of how heraldry is supposed to work. Placing the arrows (often seen as a symbol of war or at least preparedness to go to war) in the dexter talon implies that war is more important than knowledge (symbolized by the key). In the same manner, the eagle in the arms of the United States places the olive branch, a symbol of peace, in the dexter talon, giving it more importance than the ability to go to war.
So, all in all, not a very good design, but still, proof once again that you can find heraldry, or heraldry-like designs, anywhere you go!