Monday, July 6, 2020

An English Window in Antwerp Cathedral


Following the unexpected Spanish window in our last post, we come to an unexpectedly English window. (As always, you may click on an image to see a larger, and more detailed version, something that I recommend just to you can take in all of the details contained in this window.)


You can tell at first glance, even without reading the memorial text at the bottom, that the central figures being memorialized are English.


At the top of the window we find the arms of King of England (on the left) and the arms of the Queen of England (on the right), with a crowned red rose between them. Around them are portcullises, red roses, and scrollwork with the motto of the King, Dieu et mon droit (God and my will) and the initials "H" and "E".

These are, of course, the arms of King Henry VII, and the marshaled arms of him and his Queen, Elizabeth of York.


Moving down to the top row of figures, we notice that the sides of the window are also marked by crowned portcullises (within wreaths of roses) and crowned roses.


The figures in this row are, from left to right: St. John the Baptist; Pope Innocent VIII; the Blessed Virgin; and St. John the Evangelist.


The figures in the bottom row are, also from left to right: St. George; King Henry VII; Queen Elizabeth of York; and Queen Elizabeth Woodville, wife of King Edward IV and mother of Elizabeth of York.

In the bottommost row of this window are two identical coats of arms we will discuss in more detail in our next post; two memorial inscriptions to King Henry and Queen Elizabeth; and in the center, an achievement of the Royal arms (Quarterly France modern and England) and the arms of Elizabeth of York being held by an angel (Quarterly: 1, Quarterly France modern and England; 2 and 3, Or a cross gules (de Burgh/Ulster); and 4, Barry of six or and azure on a chief or two pallets between two base esquierres [gyrons] azure overall an inescutcheon argent (Mortimer)). This shield is a modified and simplified version of the the quartered arms born by her paternal grandfather, Richard, the 3rd Duke of York. (Her father, of course, came to bear the Royal arms as King.)

The date given in the memorial to Elizabeth, 1789, is the date the window was repaired and reinstalled. There is a transcription of a letter dated 1775 that describes the window and its then-broken condition. (Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, Comprising Biographical memoirs of William Bowyer, Printer, F.S.A. and Many of his Learned Friends by John A Nichols, F.S.A., Nichols, Son, and Bentley, London, 1815, Vol. IX,  pp. 356-357)

Finally, of course, we come to the question why there is an armorial stained glass window to an English King and Queen in an Antwerp cathedral. The answer, I feel confident, lies in the following:

Henry VII's most successful diplomatic achievement* as regards the economy was the Magnus Intercursus ("great agreement") of 1496. In 1494, Henry embargoed trade (mainly in wool) with the Netherlands in retaliation for Margaret of Burgundy's (his Queen Elizabeth of York’s aunt, who married Charles the Bold of Burgundy) support for the pretender to the English throne Perkin Warbeck. The Merchant Adventurers, the company which enjoyed the monopoly of the Flemish wool trade, relocated from Antwerp to Calais. At the same time, Flemish merchants were ejected from England. The stand-off eventually paid off for Henry. Both parties realized they were mutually disadvantaged by the reduction in commerce. Its restoration by the Magnus Intercursus was very much to England's benefit in removing taxation for English merchants and significantly increasing England's wealth. In turn, Antwerp became an extremely important trade entrepôt (transshipment port), through which, for example, goods from the Baltic, spices from the east and Italian silks were exchanged for English cloth.


* His most successful non-diplomatic achievement was, of course, successfully wresting the throne of England from King Richard III.


So there you have it! A large, detailed, exquisitely done armorial stained glass window in Belgium with the arms of the English King and Queen who reigned in the aftermath of the Wars of the Roses on the other side of the English Channel. A surprise to find, but less surprising once the history of the relationship between the English Crown and mercantile Antwerp is known.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Wow. Just, wow.


Who knew that it was truly possible, in this day and age, right now in the 21st Century, to have people call for something to be banned because, among other things, they especially didn't like a quasi-heraldic image that they thought was "belittling the dignity of the coat of arms and had insulted the symbol of [a] nation’s sovereignty"?*

Well, me neither, but apparently, that is exactly what happened.

In a June 28 article in Free Malaysia Today, reprinted with a response by Sarawak Report (both of which can be found on-line at https://www.sarawakreport.org/talkback/43189/), UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) Youth has called for action against the author, editor and publisher of a book on Malaysian politics and alleged that the cover image was an affront to Malaysia’s coat of arms. Youth wing leader Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said the book, Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance, And Hope In New Malaysia, edited by Kean Wong, should be banned.

“Such action clearly shows the author of the book is belittling the dignity of the coat of arms and had insulted the symbol of the nation’s sovereignty,” Asyraf said in a Facebook post. He said stern action should be taken against the author, editor and publisher “if it is proven there was an intention to insult the nation’s official symbol”.

Asyraf said the publication of the book had shown that a 2016 decision to impose heavier penalties, including a maximum jail term of three years and a maximum fine of RM20,000 had not been enough to deter people from openly insulting such symbols.

Here is the Malaysian coat of arms, borrowed here from Heraldry of the World:


The offending book cover image bears a resemblance to this national coat of arms, but features a naked child flanked by two tigers with humanoid faces stepping on a crocodile:


If that's the sort of reaction one can expect from creating a parody of a national coat of arms, I'm grateful that I live in a country that doesn't impose criminal penalties (!) for parodying, "belittling" (and just how does one "belittle" an emblem?), or insulting the good ol' U.S. of A.'s coat of arms, the Seal of the President of the U.S., or other official heraldry of the federal government, or I'd be in serious trouble for having seen, and republished on this blog, the following (among others):







Just sayin'.



* It is, in fact, an offence in Malaysia under Act 414 of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1963.

Monday, June 29, 2020

A Surprisingly Spanish Window


The central motif of the armorial stained glass window that we're looking at is the Adoration of the Magi. This window was donated by the Dassa-Rockox family.


The images of Ferdinando Dassa and Barbara Rockox and their children (four sons, left, and two daughters, right) appear at the base of this beautiful glass window. Both parents kneel facing each other on a prayer bench with their children behind them.

Further to each side are their patron (and name) saints, Saint Ferdinand and Saint Barbara. 

On the left we see St. Ferdinand (Ferdinand III) (1199-1252, King of Castile from 1217 and King of León from 1230 as well as King of Galicia from 1231), wearing a cloak of Castile and Leon repeats, and bearing some of his attributes: a crown, a scepter, and a globus crucifer. On the right we find St. Barbara, most notably carrying what I believe is St. Ferdinand's sword, along with some of her attributes: a crown of martydom, and a three-windowed tower (two visible).

At the top of the window are the heraldic elements; here, elements of the arms of Spain: Aragon and the Two Sicilies in two window frames; Quarterly Castile and Leon in two more; with Granada below each pair; and each pair surmounted by a crown; both sets within a larger frame which helps to unify them visually into a single display of heraldry.


The four window portions with the arm holding palm branches puzzled me, partly because I didn't identify the plant portion as palms,* until it was pointed out that one of the attributes of St. Barbara is a palm. Puzzle solved! Presumably the leaf decorations on each side of the upper window are also palm branches.

So there you have it! A beautifully done stained glass window with a Biblical theme, images of the donors and their children, framed by their namesake patron saints, one of whom, St. Ferdinand, has his arms depicted in the top portion of the window. This last explains why we find the arms of Spain in this armorial window in Belgium.

As always, you may click on one of the images here to see a larger version, which may be worth your time to look at all of the details which have been incorporated here.



* Similarly-depicted palms can be found on the medallion of the Order of St. Barbara at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Barbara#/media/File:Order_of_Saint_Barbara_medallion.jpg

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Armorial Stained Glass Windows in the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp


Today we begin to look at the (many) armorial stained glass windows in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium.

There's a bunch of them, and they are all wonderful creations of the glazier's art!

I will probably not be taking all in the order that I photographed them, as:

1. Some have a lot more heraldry on them than others, requiring more time to research and identify the individual coats;

2. My resources for identifying Belgian and other Low Country heraldry are not nearly as extensive as those I have for English, Scottish, and Irish arms, thus also increasing the time necessary for identification;

3. As I review my pictures, I keep finding new "heraldic hidden treasures" in them, which in addition to delighting me, also distract me from the main thrust of what I'm trying to do.

4. Adding to these other difficulties, most of the guidebooks and on-line information about the art of the cathedral tends to focus on all of the paintings by Peter Paul Rubens and others. Now, don’t get me wrong; I like Rubens. (No, really!) But he doesn’t do heraldry, and heraldry is where my primary interest lies. So I feel that the heraldry in the cathedral has taken a back seat to the famous painter and his compatriots in the art world.

All that said, we're going to have some fun; as I said, these windows are gorgeous!

The first window we're going to look at is the one erected by the Fugger family. The Fuggers were merchants and bankers of Augsburg; Counts in 1507, and in 1803 Princes of the Holy Roman Empire. Alongside the Welser family, the Fugger family controlled much of the European economy in the Sixteenth Century and accumulated enormous wealth.

The Fuggers were paying close attention to the Antwerp copper market at least as early as the 1490s as they began to move more and more toward copper mining, but most of their business in the city would not come until the first years of the Sixteenth Century. Hence their connection to Antwerp.

The central theme of this window is The Conversion of Saul (to Paul). Anthony Fugger (nicknamed “the Rich”) is depicted kneeling at the base of the window.


The Fugger family had two main branches, with different coats of arms. The “Fugger of the Deer” branch, founded by Andreas Fugger (1394-1457) bore Azure a doe salient or. The “Fugger of the Lily” branch, founded by Jakob Fugger the Elder (1398-1469), bore Per pale azure and or two fleurs-de-lis counterchanged.

You can see the arms of the lily branch of the Fugger family twice near the peak of the window.


If you look closely, at the very apex of the window you can see a fleur-de-lis per pale azure and or.

I recommend that you click on the image of the full window to go to a larger version and just spend some time looking at all the details: the different Roman soldiers, the dogs (especially the one curled up not quite asleep below the crucifix, the horses and camels, and, well, everything else.

Enjoy!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Our Final Carved Armorial Memorial in the Cathedral of Our Lady


And now we come to the last large carved armorial memorial in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium.

Like the one highlighted in our last post, this one, too, is to more than one generation in a family.


Done in more of a neo-classical style, this one frames an original oil painting. (The Baron de Pret, of whom we will speak more in a moment, was known to be a patron of the arts.)

The plaque beneath the painting tells us who is being memorialized here:


The first names are those of Arnold Francis (or François) Joseph Bruno de Pret (1722-1789), Lord of Calesberg, and his wife, Marie Petronille Moretus (1724-1778).

Below their names is that of their son, Philip Anthony Joseph, Baron de Pret de Terveken (d. 1838), and his wife, Justine Caroline Maria van Ertborn (d. 1841). She was the daughter of Emmanuel Françoise de Paule van Ertborn.

At the very base of the monument are the arms of Philip and Justina:


Rietstap's Armorial Général is once again our "go-to" source the blazon of these two coats of arms:

de Pret: Quarterly: 1 and 4, Argent a fleur-de-lis gules overall on a pale sable three chevronels or (de Pret); 2 and 3, Or a fess gules and in chief three martlets sable (van Horne).

Ertborn: Or a chevron gules between three crawfish fesswise sable.

The two side-by-side shields are surmounted with the coronet of baron. The crest is: A fleur-de-lis gules within a pair of wings or and sable.

The two supporters are lions rampant gardant, each bearing a lance with with a banner displaying the arms of de Pret (dexter, to the viewer's left) and van Ertborn (sinister, to the viewer's right).

The carefully draped scroll beneath the lions' feet is inscribed (you can see it better if you click on the image above to go to a larger image) with the de Pret motto: Prèt à faire le bien (Ready to do good). Which is not only a fine sentiment, but a good play on the surname as well!

Next time: More heraldry in the Cathedral of Our Lady. Should I work on the stained glass windows, or on the painted coats of arms? Find out in our next exciting blog post!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Nothing Succeeds Like Excess


The next armorial memorial we're going to look at in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium, is a wonderfully baroque one to various members of the van Delft family.


I mean, really! There is an awful lot going on on this memorial. Click on the image above to see a larger version, and take your time to look carefully at all of the details, from the bishop's mitre and spiked club through winged figure at the top to the cherubs on each side through the female figure and the skeleton, all the way down to the death's head and wings at the bottom. It is, frankly, just an amazing piece of the carver's art.

The bottommost names on the memorial plaque are those of Jean-Baptiste Joseph van Delft (1709-1777), who was granted hereditary nobility by Empress Maria Theresa in 1762) and his wife, Jeanne Marie de Coninck.

You can find a brief descent tree from him on-line at https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Delft

Jean-Baptiste Joseph van Delft's parents were Jean Gisbert van Delft (1686-1740) and Marie Madeleine Schenaerts (1683-1755), whose names are noted on the memorial.  Jean Gisbert's parents were Jean van Delft (1640-1694) and Catherine Louise Schut (1655-1736). Jean's parents were Jean van Delft (1592-1662) and Catherine Keurlincx (d. 1659). (Ah, you have to love all of the genealogical websites on the internet! They can make it a lot easier to trace back a family tree, like the one here.) All of these husbands and wives are named on the memorial.

But, of course, it is the coat of arms that I finally noticed (well, it took a while; as I said above, there is a lot going on in this monument!) at the bottom.


Riestap's Armorial Général tells us that these arms are blazoned: Argent a fess and in chief two mascles gules. The crest is: The bust of a young man habited in the arms wearing a hat[? Rietstap calls it a bourlet] azure with two horns argent.

All in all, a beautifully carved (if in some places maybe just a little "over the top") memorial to several generations of the van Delft family of Antwerp.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Not One But Two (Count 'em! Two!) Memorials to a Bishop


Having seen the arms of the 22nd Bishop of Antwerp, Johan Bonny, in our last post, this time we visit the two memorials in the Cathedral of Our Lady to the 7th Bishop of Antwerp, Ambrosius (or Marius) Capello (1597-1676, Bishop of Antwerp 1654-1676).

The first memorial is just that, a memorial, though an impressive one:


Here's a close-up of the memorial plaque:


Beneath which, supported by two cherubs, is a depiction of his arms, surmounted by the galero of a bishop:


The arms are, of course, canting; that is, they form a pun on the surname, as in Italian capello is a "hat".

While the carved stone arms here are painted as Sable a hat the cords crossed in saltire gules, I suspect, based on similar coats of arms for Capello in Rietstap's Armorial Général, that the field really should be argent, or white. (Or blue. Rietstap cites arms for dal Capelo of Verona which have a blue field with a red hat.)

The second memorial to Bishop Capello is his tomb in the cathedral. It was designed by Artus Quellinus II:


Here is a close-up of the memorial plaque on the side of the tomb:


His arms here (beautifully carved and left unpainted) are supported by a single cherub:


I have been manfully resisting the following pun, but find that I am too weak to resist any longer.

I suppose that if you are going to have a large stone-carved memorial to your memory, you might as well go for Baroque.

(I know; it's bad. Next time we will return you to your regularly-scheduled posts about heraldry.)

Thursday, June 11, 2020

What? Not Another Update!


Well, yes, another update.

Don't get me wrong; it's annoying me, too! I mean, I've got plenty of other projects that I'm working on right now (some of them not even about heraldry!). But what am I supposed to do? I go searching on the internet for something, and I happen to run across another source for coats of arms and crests used in what is now the United States of America.

Should I just ignore it? Well, no. That would actually defeat the purpose of collecting American personal heraldry into a single, searchable, database.

So there we are. Just a day after posting an update to the American heraldry collection, and while looking for something else entirely, I ran across another previously unknown (to me) source: American Book-Plates: A guide to their study by Charles Dexter Allen and published in London in 1895. (Fortunately, I didn't have to actually buy a copy; since it is out of copyright, it was digitized and available for download. If you'd like a copy for yourself, do a search for that title on Google Books at https://books.google.com/ or the Internet Text Archive at https://archive.org/index.php or the Hathi Trust Digital Library at https://www.hathitrust.org/)

So there you have it. I stopped working on all of the other stuff that I have going on to download American Book-Plates and go through it and add all of the armorial bookplates illustrated therein (the author is not a herald, and gives no blazons for any of the bookplates he has as examples) to my American Heraldry Collection. Some of the entries were duplicates, having seen them in one of the early sources for the Collection, Bolton's American Armory. Some of the entries were near duplicates, but with one or more details differing, got their own separate entry in the Collection. Still others were not already seen, and so were obviously given their own entries.

Anyway, it's all done now. (At least until I happen to stumble over yet another previously unincluded source.) As usual, I have uploaded the newly-updated American Heraldry Collection as a .zip file to my website, and you can download it by clicking on the AHC link in the left-hand column under "Articles I Have Written".

Enjoy it while you can; there's just no telling when I might find something new to add. (Though whenever that happens, I will as usual make an announcement here and in one or more of the heraldry Facebook groups.)

Now to get back to my other projects!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

It's International Heraldry Day!


International Heraldry Day was initiated in 2013 by the International Association of Amateur Heralds. The day was selected as being the day in 1128 on which the 15 year old Geoffrey Plantagenet (1113-1151), later Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy, was knighted in Rouen by King Henry I of England in preparation for Geoffrey’s marriage to the King’s daughter, the Empress Matilda (widow of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V). They were the parents of King Henry II of England (1133-1189), the first of the three Angevin Kings of England.

The day was selected because the chronicler, Jean de Marmentier, records that, on the occasion of his knighthood, the King hung around Geoffrey’s neck a shield painted with gold lions on an Azure ground. This is asserted to be the earliest documented instance of heraldry. Although that distinction has been disputed, it is more certain that around 1155-60 the twice widowed Empress commissioned an enamel plaque for Geoffrey’s tomb which bears the same device.


International Heraldry Day focuses on one day each year when heraldry in all its forms is celebrated worldwide. 


Regardless of jurisdiction, geographic area, customs, favored styles, or favored period, the heraldic community focuses on wider enjoyment of heraldry.

This blog and its author support the objectives of International Heraldry Day and invite the reader to take pleasure in the day and in our shared interest in the subject.


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Another Update!


So there I was, just minding my own business and reading some Facebook posts, when I ran across one with an image from an armorial that caught my eye. So I clicked the link to see the page it was on, and got an error message. Not to be denied, I went to that website's home and did a search for "armorial".

I didn't find the one I was looking for (yet), but I did see a book that I find it hard to believe that I didn't already have in my collection. (I have rectified that now!)

The book is W.S. Appleton's (no relation to me, alas) Positive Pedigrees and Authorized Arms of New England published in Boston, Massachusetts in 1891.

It's not a large book; the .pdf, which includes the front and back covers, is only 22 pages long. And the list of Positive Pedigrees with Authorized Arms is not much larger, consisting of only 29 entries.

Be that as it may, it's a book not already included in my American Heraldry Collection, so I have now included these 29 arms in that Collection. (Admittedly, most of them were duplicates from other sources; there were only three or four that were not exact duplicates and so were added with their own entry in the Collection.) I have now uploaded the newly updated Collection (including all of the publication information for this book in the Word document) to my website. There is a link in the left-hand column of this blog under "Some Articles I Have Written" where you can download this latest version of my American Heraldry Collection.

Enjoy!

Monday, June 8, 2020

The Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium


One of the things that I enjoy most about our travels to foreign places is the opportunity it gives me to wander about the towns we are visiting and look at the art (and heraldry!) there.

Having arrived a few days before the XXI Colloquium of the International Academy of Heraldry (l'Académie Internationale d'Héraldique) was to begin, we took the opportunity to visit one of the historic landmarks of the city, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal).

A brief overview of its history is given in several languages on a sign immediately outside the building.


Of course, it is called a "cathedral" because it hosts the cathedra, the seat or chair of a bishop. Here is the cathedra of the bishop of the Diocese of Antwerp.


On the face of the back* of the cathedra is the achievement of arms of the 22nd (current) Bishop of Antwerp, Johan Bonny, who was appointed as Bishop in 2008 and installed on January 4, 2009.


I do not know the "official" blazon of Bishop Bonny's arms, or if there even is one; my attempt would make it: Quarterly azure, azure, azure, and barry wavy azure and argent on a lozenge throughout vert a lamb passant gardant argent maintaining a bishop's crozier or, in dexter chief a mullet of seven points argent. Behind the shield is the Latin cross of a bishop, and surmounting the entire achievement is the green galero (ecclesiastical hat) with six tassels on each side of a bishop. The motto beneath the arms is Agnus pascet illos ("[the] lamb feed them").

The green lozenge throughout is probably not the best choice - it violates the heraldic Rule of Tincture** and at a distance, as you can see in the image of the full chair above, tends to "muddy" the identification of the colors - but I feel certain that the colors and charges hold deep personal meanings for Bishop Bonny. However, it seems to me that the meanings could have been retained while improving contrast and identifiability by making the first three quarters white and changing the mullet to blue. (The barry wavy in the fourth quarter doesn't seem to me to be a contrast issue particularly, only one of identifiability because the lozenge covers up so much of it. But what do I know?)

Anyway, it's not often that I get to see a cathedra in person, and even less often one done in so modern a style, so this was an enjoyable "find" for me.




* Is that an oxymoron? The achievement is not on the back side of the back of the chair; it is on the front side of the chair back.

** "Color shall not be placed upon color, nor metal upon metal." The colors are: blue, red, black, green, and purple. The metals are gold and silver (yellow and white). Colors contrast well with metals, and metals with color, which allows for easier and quicker recognition.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Sorry! I Lied. (Sort of)


Okay, I know that last time, I said we'd start looking at some real heraldry from Antwerp, Belgium. Apparently, I lied. Or was incorrect. Or I was acting on incomplete or inaccurate information. Or, to quote from the movie The Blues Brothers, "Honest... I ran out of gas. I... I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts! IT WASN'T MY FAULT!"

Well, okay, maybe it was my fault. Sorry about that!

So today we're going to look at a couple more shields, one which has a "coat of arms" and one which is a very heraldry-like logo.

The coat of arms was found on the Onze-Lieve-VrouweCollege Lagere School, or in English, Our Dear Lady College Primary School. Here is the full sign over the door.


And in the lower left-hand corner, you can see the coat of arms:


I am not going to attempt a blazon here; it's very complex and I'm not sure what the thing in the middle just below the ring of the pendent chain is supposed to be. Frankly, placed as it is between the two dogs statant respectant, it reminds me of nothing quite so much as a dog food dish. But I'm feel confident that a dog food dish is not what they had in mind when designing this shield.

The other almost heraldry, or heraldry-like logo, was found in front of a jewelers called De Gouden Ram, or The Golden Ram.


Doing business, at it quite unmistakenly proclaims, "Since 1962", they do some beautiful gem and gemstone carving and mounting, at least from what I've seen of their work on Google and Facebook. (Yes, they even have their own Facebook page!)

But, of course, it was the heraldic logo -- in two places! A carved shield over the door and a painted one on a hanging sign -- that caught my heraldically-inclined eye.



These are both blazoned the same way, because we are looking at the reverse side of the sign here; the ram is not contourny, it's just the back side of the shield; it faces the other way (towards the building) on the other, front, side. The blazon for these shields would be: Sable a ram couchant or. Nice, simple, easy to identify; all the things, in fact, that a good coat of arms ought to be.

Monday, June 1, 2020

And ... Almost Heraldry On Shields!


So, having looked at blank shields in Antwerp, Belgium, followed by stuff on shields that wasn't heraldry, we now come to some advertising that is truly almost heraldry!

First off, we have the logo of the CION Red Stars, a voetbal (football, what we Yanks refer to as "soccer" because what we call "football" over here is nothing like futbol everywhere else in the world) team based in Vlaardingen (on the west side of Rotterdam) in The Netherlands. This particular bit of "heraldry" was, as you can see, found affixed to a lamppost.


If I had to try to blazon this logo, it would be something along the lines of: Per pale bleu celeste and azure, in pale the letters CION argent, RED gules and STARS argent, and 1951 argent, in base three mullets gules fimbriated argent two and one, issuant from base a demi-football [or soccer ball, if you're an American] proper. (A quick search on the internet demonstrates that the tri-colored oval behind the shield is not an intrinsic part of the club's logo.) It's a bit of a mess as blazon, but then again, what is being blazoned is only approaching heraldry, and falling a little short of it.


Our other example of "almost heraldry" is even closer: Omer Traditional Blond Ale.

This one is much easier to blazon, even though it fails to follow one of the basic rules of heraldry, the Rule of Tincture. ("The most basic rule of heraldic design is the rule of tincture: metal should not be put on metal, nor colour on colour" Humphrey Llwyd, 1568.) So for this we have a blazon of: Sable a chevron within a bordure gules.


Our next item of "almost heraldry" is an old friend that we last saw on our trip to Arras, France: the Jupiter Brewing Company. It's not especially easy to blazon this one, if only because the bull is "stepping" outside of the shield, but here's my poor attempt: Gules a bull passant regardant sable armed (mostly) within a bordure the shield crowned argent. Once again, not quite heraldry, and so not amenable to easy blazon.


So, let's say that you've watched the CION Red Stars play a game, and you've quenched your thirst at the local bar or sidewalk café with Omer Traditional Blond or a nice Jupiter Pilsner. Is it time to go home now? Well, how would you tell? Why, by looking at your Tudor watch, of course!

Our last bit of "almost heraldry" seen in Antwerp was in a jeweler's shop advertising Tudor and Breitling watches. (And as it turns out, some Tudor watches have Breitling movements, so you can buy the best of both.) A rough estimate at a blazon for Tudor would be: Argent on a chief gules two billets fesswise in fess argent all within a bordure gules. (Yes, I know that doesn't speak of the fact that the top edge of each "billet" dips. Still, at any real distance, you can't see that that is what is going on on the shield.)


And there you have it! Our examples of blank shields (in the post before last), not-heraldry (in our last post), and almost-heraldry that we found in our wanderings about the streets of Antwerp!

Next time: We get back to real heraldry. Won't that be nice?

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Well, It's Not A _Blank_ Shield, Anyway


So, what to do to follow-up on my last post, which was of a number of blank shields and shield shapes that I saw in Antwerp?

How about something that isn't heraldry but that is still on a shield shape?

Here's a nice round-bottom shield advertising vranken verzekeringen, or Vranken Insurance.


Or how about this one, which is less a shield than it is simply a barrel helm or great helm affronty? (Though such helms generally had the holes to allow for better breathing only on the wearer's right side for greater protection in the joust. See, e.g., this reproduction mid-14th Century great helm at https://shop.royalarmouries.org/products/medieval-english-great-helm-royal-armouries-collection)

This shield/helm is advertising Cornet Oaked Ale, which is stated here to be made as "Strong . Blond . [or] Belgian."


So, not heraldry, but not blank shields either. I will leave it for you to decide whether or not these are an improvement over a blank shield or cartouche.

Monday, May 25, 2020

They Do It Here, Too!


If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know that periodically I get on my soapbox about blank cartouches; that is, shield shapes (heater, round, oval, decorative, whatever) which have a perfectly good surface for placing a coat of arms, but which are, in fact, left completely blank.

It is a fairly common thing to see, actually. I've run across it just about everywhere I have been, and I expect to see more in future travels.

Nonetheless, I find it to be irksome. Here's a perfectly good place for the display of heraldry, and it's been left blank, or at best decorated with a pattern.

Here are some of the blank cartouches that I ran across in Antwerp.

A wonderfully decorated balcony:




Lions supporting blank shields at the end of a bridge over the River Scheldt:




And, of course, ovals and circles (one a glass window with a papellony design), all of which could have been a display of actual heraldry:





I swear, there are times when I just want to borrow a tall enough ladder, buy, a few cans of spray paint, and go out there (probably at night; people tend to report such goings-on as vandalism, even if I might believe that I'm improving the ambiance) and fill in these blank shields with coats of arms. For example, if I were able to get to the first oval above, I might put my own coat of arms on it, like this:


Now, who's with me?