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

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?

Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Arms of a Duchy

A third, and final, coat of arms on the facade of the City Hall of Antwerp, Belgium (at the time we were there, the building was undergoing repair and restoration, so the face of the building was printed onto the covering of the scaffolding, so that you could see what the building looked like, at least) is one that is sometimes mistaken as the arms of Belgium, since they are identical.

I am referring, of course, to the arms of the Duchy of Brabant. (Indeed, the heir apparent to the throne of Belgium, currently Princess Elisabeth, is given the title Duke/Duchess of Brabant.)

The arms of the Duchy are blazoned: Sable a lion rampant or armed and langued gules.

And, just to show you what the facade with all three coats of arms looks like, here it is. As always, you can click on the image below to see a larger and more detailed picture.

All in all, it's a very impressive display of heraldry!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Changes at the Canadian Heraldic Authority

The Governor General of Canada announced today (May 20, 2020) the appointment of Samy Khalid as the new Chief Herald of Canada, and the appointment of Claire Boudreau (the former Chief Herald) as Margaree-Chéticamp Herald Emeritus.

This photo of Dr. Boudreau and Dr. Khalid was taken in 2014.

Dr. Khalid is the third Chief Herald of Canada since the founding of the Canadian Heraldic Authority in 1988, the first being Robert Watt and the second Claire Boudreau.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Foreign Heraldry Found in Antwerp

As fun as it is to see the many ways that a city uses its own, regional, and national coats of arms, it is even more exciting to me to run across "foreign" heraldry; the display of arms (or flags) of other nations.

This is every bit as true on our trip last year to Antwerp, where we ran across the following arms and flags:

First found were two flags decorating Tropicos, "the one and only Mexican-Brazilian restaurant in the world." On the left is the flag of Brazil; on the right, the flag of Mexico, which contains the coat of arms of Mexico in the center:

Here, on the (covered for renovation and restoration) facade of the City Hall, are the arms of el Rey Felipe el segundo, the arms of King Philip II of Spain,* encircled with the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece. As arms of dominion, we can see León and Castile in the first (upper left) quarter, with Aragon and the Two Sicilies next to them, and Leuven and other Burgundian quarterings in the lower part of the shield, all stemming from the time that Spain ruled much of the Low Countries.

And then, in the course of our wanderings about the city, there was the flag of Portugal, with that nation's coat of arms placed prominently upon it:

And finally, one that is not the flag of a nation, but a business logo made by combining portions of the flags of Sweden, Finland, and Norway:

All in all, some surprising, and interesting, heraldry to be found in the streets of Antwerp, Belgium.

* Yes, the same Philip II who was the husband of "Bloody" Queen Mary (Tudor), and who later sent the Armada on its ill-fated attempt to invade and conquer England.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

A New Update to the American Heraldry Collection!

Whew! Well, it took me a couple of weeks of my "copious free time" to get it done, but I have just finished a new update to the American Heraldry Collection.

This update adds the coats of arms from Matthews' Complete American Armoury and Blue Book, the 1907 and 1911-1923 editions.

I will, as I get the time over the next several weeks, be double-checking all of these hand-typed entries for typographical errors. (What? Me make errors? Bah! I am a prefect tpyist.) Yes, indeed, I had no .pdf version to convert to Word, and so I ended up typing all of these entries by hand, and it is, indeed, possible that a few errors got past me, despite my best attempts to catch them before saving the document each day.

Be that as it may, the newly-updated version of the American Heraldry Collection (an Excel spreadsheet with all of the arms and crests in .xlsx format and an accompanying Word document with a list of the sources and abbreviations and other explanatory text in .docx format, can be downloaded now at or by clicking on the link to it in the left-hand column of this blog under "Some Articles I Have Written".

Anyway, if you think it might be of interest or use to you, feel free to go and download it.


Thursday, May 14, 2020

Arms of the Margraviate of Antwerp

You may have noticed, in the first picture in the last post, what appears to be another variant of the arms of the city of Antwerp; one with a charged chief.

You would not be wrong, but you wouldn't be entirely correct, either.

That coat of arms is not the arms of the city of Antwerp, but rather is the arms of the Margraviate (Mark, or March) of Antwerp. Wikipedia informs us that "The Margraviate of Antwerp (or Mark of Antwerp) consisted since the eleventh century of the area around the cities of Antwerp and Breda."

There were, in the years between 874 and 1190, twelve Margraves of Antwerp. In 1106, the Margraviate was united with the Duchy of Lower Lorraine. The Duchy was abolished in 1190, and its titles (but not its lands) were given to the Duke of Brabant.

Anyway, as the Margraviate of Antwerp was created under the Holy Roman Emperor, its coat of arms consists of the arms of the city of Antwerp (Gules a four-walled triple-towered castle and in chief two hands, the dexter bendwise and the sinister bendwise sinister, all argent), with the upper half (or sometimes, just a chief, Or a double-headed eagle displayed sable beaked and legged or.

This first image is from the (then-covered for renovation and restoration) facade of the town hall, with a field divided Per fess and surmounted with a coronet of a Marquis (Margrave):

Here the arms of the Margraviate are at the peak of the window (you can click on this, or any other, image to see a larger version); the division of the field is too high for a per fess division, but is also a little low for to be a charged chief.

In this final image (which also has two images of the arms of the city of Antwerp), on the upper left of this window, the coat of arms of the Margraviate are more clearly a field and a charged chief.

Once again, we will be revisiting the windows here to discuss some of the other heraldry contained in them.

Monday, May 11, 2020

A Variant of the Civic Arms of Antwerp, Belgium

So, having looked in my last post at an array of images of the arms of the city of Antwerp, this time we're going to see a variant depiction of those arms, ones in which the hands are not merely in chief, but are placed upon flags or banners above the city walls.

As always, you can click on an image to see a larger, and thus more detailed, version.

In this image, there are two four-lobed windows side-by-side on the left with the arms of Antwerp, but in each there are two banner poles issuant from the central tower bearing flags or on each of which is a hand couped gules:

The center of this window has the same depiction:

As does the left-hand window here, but here the flag poles are argent:

And finally, the arms at the peak of the window are similar, but the banner poles and flags are both argent instead of or.

All of these photographs were taken in the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp. Clearly, we will be revisiting these windows to discuss some of the other coats of arms depicted in them.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

An Amazing Array of Images of the Arms of Antwerp, Belgium

So, wandering about the city of Antwerp, Belgium, I ran across the following depictions of its coat of arms, in an amazing display of heraldry.

Carved into a stone monument:

Here, held by a cast bronze statue:

In stained glass (here, on the upper right side) in the Cathedral of Our Lady:

Painted on interior walls in the Cathedral:

Carved or cast on public buildings:

Underfoot in the street:

And even on a lunchtime glass of beer:

It was a treat to see such a wide variety of uses of the city's heraldry in so many different media.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Whence Cometh Antwerp?

Or, more specifically, where does the name of the city and its coat of arms come from?

Well ... Druon Antigoon was a mythical giant who lived in Antwerp. Guarding a bridge on the river Scheldt, he exacted a toll from those crossing the river. For those who refused, he severed one of their hands and threw it into the river. Eventually, Antigoon was slain by a young Roman soldier named Brabo, who cut off the giant's own hand and flung it into the river.

According to folklore, and as celebrated by the statue in front of the town hall (below), this legend is the origin of the name Antwerp: Antwerpen, from Dutch hand werpen – akin to Old English hand and wearpan (= to throw), that has changed to today's warp.

If you look closely, you will see immediately below Brabo's foot, the wall of the city of Antwerp, each tower surmounted by a hand. It is this motif - the walled city and two severed hands in chief - that are the city's coat of arms.

This coat of arms, blazoned (roughly) Gules a four-walled castle of three towers and in chief two hands couped, the dexter bendwise, the sinister bendwise sinister, argent, may be seen all about the city. Here are only a couple of examples. We'll do some more next time.

(Normally, the crown ensigns the shield; in the example immediately above, it has been placed on the shield.)