Tuesday 15 February 2011

Is it really heraldry?

Occasionally I am called upon to wear another hat where I am asked to edit an armorial register. The task is not arduous, gives me a great deal of pleasure and has brought me into contact with many very pleasant people who wish to make public their armorial bearings. There is however one rather sad side to my task and it is one which brings me into contact with an increasingly difficult and embarrassing part of the heraldic world; it is a sort of heraldic subculture populated by those who wish to be perceived as something other than what they are. Amongst the genuine applicants for the register there is a tiny smattering of those who cause my eyebrow to be raised who do not meet the criteria. Some are quite convincing and I freely confess to falling foul to more than one deception which thankfully, because of the public nature of the register, has not gone undetected for long. Most however are naive and easily picked out as being most unsuitable for registration and are easily dealt with; we now have an unofficial, unpublished "rogues gallery" which gives no end of amusement. 

Why, you ask, am I making this post? I invite you to take a look at this so called "heraldic achievement" :

Not the best of efforts to produce a coat of arms

Let us set aside for the moment the titular claim (which is not accepted) and the painfully obvious fact that a genuine barony of European antiquity would have arms which were more easily recognisable as being genuine and look at the "arms" themselves.  I have no doubt that the soi disant baron is very proud of his armorial bearings but it is increasingly worrying that so many people who adopt and assume arms anew seem to be taking the advice of those who really ought not to be giving it.  It is quite clear that whomever designed this particular coat of arms knew nothing about heraldry. This is an abominable example of bucket shop arms which shows no real understanding of the individual elements of armory. The supporters are ridiculous, I very much doubt whether the designer would understand the purpose of or even the term "quartering", the motto has been replaced in the usual bucket shop way by the name and the mantling (if that is what it is) has lost all relationship with the helm and torse and has become a sort of background plantation growing out of the motto scroll!  I can't think what the black radiating lines or wings behind the achievement are supposed to be nor why the helm has horns growing out of the shoulders! I am no expert on European heraldry but I am at a loss as to what Czechoslovakian tradition allows axes in saltire behind the shield.  

Why oh why, when there are so many free and informed resources such as The International Association of Amateur Heralds and The American Heraldry Society to name but two, do people still design such abominations?

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