Thursday, April 18, 2019

A Display of Restaurant Heraldry


The Pound at One Pound Lane in Canterbury is a restaurant with a twist; it is located in what used to be a police station complete with jail cells.

I can't give you a review of the food or service there; while we looked into the restaurant upstairs (walking past and checking out some of the jail cells where you can also eat on our way there), we were just looking for a quick bite before heading back to the hotel to get some sleep, and the food there was going to be more filling than we wanted.

Nonetheless, I did get some photos of their logo, an unusual version of quartered arms on a shield:



They are clearly playing off the history of the venue, what with the portcullis, keys, and halberds, as well as the Union flag.

It's not quite heraldry, but it's an eye-catching logo for a restaurant located in an interesting, and historical, venue.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Some Heraldry That I Did See


I felt that I ought to make up for having only almost seen the heraldry I talked about in my last post. And, sure enough, because frankly, I'm always looking for coats of arms, I saw some.

Well, to be honest, I wasn't driving at the time, and so I wasn't having to watch the road like last time. I was walking, and when I'm walking I get to look around a lot more.

And while I was walking and looking around, I saw this bit of pseudo-heraldry:


It is, as you can see, the logo of the Heritage School of Texas here in Dallas.

While it is on an heraldic shield, it is not especially heraldic: the green stuff on each side of the demi-hawk/falcon reguardant is presumably meant to be taken as a laurel wreath; the blue on blue "sunrise" in base is somewhat odd; and they felt the need to include "Founded 2011" on the shield, too.

The motto (for some reason placed across the shield rather than under or over it) is Videre ut Deus Videt (We see that God sees).

The school "provides a challenging Christian education to student of average to above average ability, who have learning differences." It is located in the buildings of Congregation Shearith Israel which, as you might guess from the name, is a Jewish synagogue. I'm not at all sure how that relationship works, but who am I to judge?

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I didn't miss seeing (and photographing) this bit of pseudo-heraldry, and that, once again, "you can find heraldry everywhere!"

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Heraldry I Almost Saw


So there we were, driving down the highway, me dutifully keeping my eyes on the road. (I will sometimes notice heraldry while I'm driving, as a few of my previous posts will demonstrate, but it's usually on the vehicle immediately in front of me.) We ended up passing a truck which had a coat of arms logo on its side. I didn't see it at all (again, watching the road!) and my wife didn't have sufficient time to pull out her phone and take a picture of it. (To someone as old as I am now, that phrase seems weird. Why would one take out a phone to take a picture. Aren't pictures something you take with a camera? But here we are in the 21st Century, taking pictures with our phones.)

Anyway, she made herself a note of the name on the truck and looked it up when we got home, and then sent me a link to their website.

I typed in the URL and sure enough, there on the website of Protect Environmental Services, Inc. was this shield that they are using as their logo:

I'd blazon it as Gules three bars [enarched] or. (The enarching is not very pronounced, and could easily be considered as artistic license, trying to show the curvature of the shield.)

Their website (http://www.protectusa.net/) indicates that they do hazardous materials cleanup and disposal in north and central Texas, and that they are the emergency response contractor for the Texas Department of Transportation in this area.

Kind of cool, doing good work like that, but I am especially pleased at the simplicity, not to say good heraldic style, of their logo.

The design is not unique; Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials shows Gules three bars or borne by: Beaumont, Berry, de Bury, Blackford/Blakford, Blakeford, Cameron, Muschampe, Poynings, and St. Owen.

But the fact that it is found used by that many families, whether related to each other or not, is a fair demonstration of its being good heraldry.

Congratulations to PES, Inc. I'm sorry I missed seeing your truck while driving down the six-lane highway in Dallas. Maybe if you had been right in front of me ....


Monday, April 8, 2019

An Overdue Rearrangement of the Heraldic Library


It's one of those things that can only be put off for so long.

Well, at least if you (or in this case, I) keep buying heraldry books.

For a long time I've had four 4' tall x 3' wide bookcases to hold most of my heraldic library. But I keep buying more books, and these shelves have gotten pretty well filled up, to the point, in fact, that I've had to put some of the books on top of the shelves just to make room. (And I've also discovered that if you squeeze too many books onto a shelf, they start pushing out the sides of the bookshelf units, which isn't good for either the shelves or the books)

Anyway, here's a couple of the "Before" pictures, looking from left to right along the "bookshelf" wall in my office at home:



As you can see, the organization was not all that it ought to be, and it was hard to get to some of the books in the lower end corners. Not to mention the fact that there were more books than shelf space for them, making all of them very tight.

So I broke down and went on-line to find another bookshelf unit of the same size (and that alone was harder than I thought it should have been!), bought it, had it shipped, and spent two days doing only two things: putting the new bookshelf unit together, and then rearranging all of the heraldry books.

Despite the fact that it's still fairly cool here in north Texas, there was much sweating involved, and I made sure to shower each day so as not to offend my wife's nostrils when I finished up and went back downstairs.

In any event, the new shelf is in, the books are reorganized so that they are all* in the shelf units.

Of course, to make the necessary space for the new bookshelf unit, I had to move the others down the wall a bit, and move out the small two-drawing filing cabinet with all of the genealogy folders in it. (I'm still working on where that's going to go, but I do have a couple of ideas for it.)

But moving the bookshelves meant changing the balance of the stuff hanging on the wall, so I had to move most of those, too. On the positive side, though, it meant that I now have a place to put the small lighted cabinet with a collection of heraldic fairings again, and I've been able to pull a few more heraldic items out of the closet and onto the top of the bookcases where they can be better seen and appreciated. (And I see I have a little wall space above the new bookshelf on either side of the fairings cabinet to hang some more heraldry there. Score! Now to decide what to hang there.)

So all in all, though it was a tough two-days of work, I feel much better about the less crowded conditions and overall arrangement of the heraldic library here. See what you think in these "After" photos:




And ... since I was already in the office with a step stool and tools, I fixed something that's been bugging my sense of order for a while now. When I'd put up the (heraldic!) drapes in the office, I had placed the brackets for the drapery rod narrower than I should have, so the outer edges of the drapes hung outwards at an angle when they were opened. I've moved the brackets out about three inches on each side, and they hang straight now. See?


(Yes, my computer screen is a bit of advice from Ernest Hemingway: "Write drunk; edit sober." What can I say? It sounds like good advice.)



* Well, all except for the volumes I own of the Proceedings of the various International Congresses of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences which I have attended. I'm still working on how best to work those into the bookshelves, and wondering if that's even reasonably possible, or if they should just stay on the shelf in the closet file room where they currently reside.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

A Bit of Double-Duty Heraldry


"Hallmark. A hallmark is an official mark or series of marks struck on items made of metal, mostly to certify the content of noble metals—such as platinum, gold, silver and in some nations, palladium."

The different hallmarks stamped onto a piece of gold or silver, etc. can tell you, for example, the maker of the item, the purity of the metal contained in it, the place of its manufacture, and even the year it was made. Indeed, there are entire websites devoted to the identification of such hallmarks; for example, https://www.silvermakersmarks.co.uk/, or https://www.925-1000.com/index.html, as only two.

Looking at hallmarks, you may notice that a significant number of them have a strong resemblance to heraldry. (Well, it's not all that far-fetched; heraldry was designed as identifying insignia, after all!)

Continuing my ramble around the streets of Canterbury, England, I ran across the following sign for Hadfield's of Canterbury, designer of fine jewelry:


It was more than just the shape they chose for their sign (a "heater", or shield shape), it was their hallmark:


Within the octagonal horizontal cartouche bearing the figure of a lion passant.

Lions passant are a fairly common heraldic motif; not as common as lions rampant, of course, but a quick review of "Beast - Lion" in Papworth's Ordinary of British Armorials will quickly turn up quite a number of them.

Is this heraldry? Strictly speaking, no, it isn't. But it is certainly related to heraldry and coats of arms on more than one level, and I felt I had to include it in this review of the heraldry I saw in Canterbury that day.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Some Heraldic Humor for April First


For April Fool's Day, here's a few of my favorite cartoons about/including heraldry collected over the years:












Thursday, March 28, 2019

A Little Commercial Heraldry, Part 5


Not too far a walk from the offices of Burke & Best and their quasi-heraldic logo discussed in my last post, I found the Canterbury office of Jackson-Stops, a nationwide real estate broker.


Their logo, found twice here (once on the facade, and once on the sign above the door. They also use it extensively on their website) is that of a wolf's head holding an axe in its mouth.


It is more logo than heraldry, but it certainly has an heraldic "feel" to it. It would be perhaps a little better with a higher contrast between the wolf's head/axe (in red) and the field (in black). (See my post of March 21, 2019, for another example from Canterbury of a low-contrast coat of arms, and why it's not the best idea.)

Still, I suppose it would cost them an unconscionable amount of money to change it now, and it does tend to catch the eye as it is.

I just wish they hadn't gone for low contrast at the outset.

Monday, March 25, 2019

A Little Commercial Heraldry, Part 4


Still wandering about the streets of Canterbury, looking at heraldry and heraldry-like logos, I came across the offices of "Canterbury's top game studio", Burke & Best.


Their logo, on frosted glass panels on the front of their building at 81 Castle Street, demonstrate an interesting combination of both quasi-traditional (read, "staid") and non-traditional (read, "quirky") esthetics:


I know, I know! Sometimes I can be somewhat of a heraldry "purist", but I was really attracted to the quirky elements of this design, and especially those non-supporting "supporters". If a picture is "worth a thousand words", then this design is really saying a lot.

Spend some time looking carefully at it, and I think you will agree.

Enjoy!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

There Is a Good Reason for Heraldry's "Rule of Contrast"


No, really!

I have seen it argued again and again over the years, why certain "low contrast" (color on color, or metal on metal) combinations ought to be permitted, instead of slavishly following the "rule of contrast" as outlined in so many basic heraldry books.

Well, there's a reason for the existence of this "rule", and it's founded on some good basic principles, mostly going back to the need for identifiability.

Some years ago, the State of Michigan, which normally issued new auto license plates every few years, had a short-lived experiment with plates on which the letters and numbers were white on a gold background. (What heralds would call "metal on metal".) There were so many complaints from law enforcement agencies all across the state that these license plates could not be read if they were a little bit dirty and then only in very good lighting conditions - neither of which regularly apply to Michigan roads, especially in the long winters - that the state issued new, high-contrast plates the very next year.

While exploring Canterbury, England, last fall, I came across another example, this one "color on color", of the issue with low contrast heraldry.

It was the Three Crows Tattoo parlor, which had these signs marking their place of business:



The above photos have been unretouched. You can see that it is very difficult to make out what it is that is on the shield. Frankly, you learn more about what's there from the wording on the signs than you do from the shield itself.

Now, here's the same signs with the contrast heightened and the overall picture lightened:



Those are better, but frankly, the shield would be much more effective if they had chosen high contrast between the shield and the birds; for example, a gold shield with the black crows, instead of a red shield.

C'mon, people! This "rule" of heraldry is there for a reason, and truly, the counter-examples cited by others over the years in discussions about this matter comprise a miniscule percentage of all of the coats of arms that there are. (Even the most generous estimates of such low contrast arms run between 1% to 3% of all coats.)

And, yes, I have read (indeed, I own a copy) of Archbishop Bruno Heim's book Or & Argent. But a significant number of his examples don't actually break the rule of contrast; they are examples of or and argent being placed next to each other on the shield, or such things as, for example, the arms of de Lagrenée, Gules a chevron or interlaced with another inverted ("reversed" in English blazon) argent, where the actual area of overlap between the low contrast charges is minimal.

So the next time you see someone who wants color on color, or metal on metal, on their arms, show them the first two pictures above, and tell them the story of the Michigan license plates, and remind them that identifiability should be one of the hallmarks of heraldry.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Military Heraldry Explained (Humor)


It's an article more than two years old, but which I just ran across today, thanks to a recent posting on Facebook by Mark A. Henderson.

It's an article on Duffle Blog entitled "Army Heraldry Meanings".

I especially enjoyed the comments about the insignia of the Transportation Corps, a unit of which my father served during the Korean War, and whose insignia is this:


And this is a hand-painted sign photographed on the grounds of Fort Eustis, Virginia, where he was stationed at the time:


Anyway, it's a fun article, and can be found on-line at Duffle Blog at https://www.duffelblog.com/2016/12/duffel-blog-presents-army-heraldry-meanings/?fbclid=IwAR3vEz_2-KbA062roTiui-MManY1NY94c861kFcRFPTcNVrSnPX1C40Y4L8