Reserved and Prohibited Charges
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Reserved and Prohibited Charges

Compiled by Dmitrii Volkovich and updated by Meradudd Cethin

© 1995, 1996 John Polzinetti (Dmitrii Volkovich)

Last updated on Wednesday, May 31, 2002.

The following is a list of charges which have been ruled to not be allowable in SCA armory. There can never be a totally exhaustive list of unregisterable charges, for several reasons: Any charge can be drawn in such a way as to be unrecognizable, and therefore unregisterable; Any item which does not have a standard form would be unregisterable (since it could not be reliably reproduced from a blazon); Offensive charges and modern charges would also be on this list. However, this list should do two things: First, it should help you to avoid the majority of charges which have been ruled to be not allowable in registered armory; Second, it should give you a good idea of why charges are ruled to be unacceptable, and therefore you might be better equipped to judge whether an unusual charge someone shows you might end up being allowed or disallowed. (Caution: Unless you know, for a fact, that the Laurel Soverign of Arms will not register a particular charge in question, do not tell people that "such and such" is not allowed. Instead explain to them why other things have been disallowed in the past and make them aware that similar problems might apply to their idea.)

Be sure to read the descriptions thoroughly, to understand whether or not all uses of the charge will cause a submission to be returned, or if only particular uses are disallowed (for example, the entry for Belt shows that only Knights of the SCA can use white belts in their armory; this does not prevent non-Knights from using other-colored belts). One thing you will not see on this list: Charges which are allowed in one Kingdom but not another. This is because there are no such charges. Let me say this again: There are no charges which are disallowed only in a particular part of the SCA. This is because the Laurel Soverign of Arms, and only Laurel, determines what practices are or are not allowable in SCA armory.

I have compiled this list from several sources, primarily from the SCA Glossary of Terms [Glossary] (available from the SCA Marketplace), Laurel Cover Letters [CL], and Letters of Acceptances and Returns [LoAR]. In most cases I have probably not found the original source of the restriction, but a re-statement. Where possible I have tried to find recent re-statements and clarifications on the prohibited use.

I have broken the original listing into two parts. The first is a list of reserved charges and the second is a compiled list of restricted and prohibited charges.

Reserved Charges

Baldric - White baldrics can only be used in the armory of Masters of Arms. [Glossary]
Belt - White belts can only be used in armory of Knights of the Society. [Glossary]
Cap of Maintenence (also Chapeu) - Reserved to members of the Order of the Pelican. [Glossary]
Chain - Closed loops of chain (of any color) are reserved to members of the Knighthood. (Links of chain are not restricted) [Glossary]
Chaplet of Roses - Reserved to Princesses. [Glossary]
Crowns & Coronets - May only be registered in the arms of Society branches of Principality level or above, or in the personal armory of Dukes, Duchesses, Counts, Countesses, Viscounts, Viscountesses Court Barons and Court Baronesses. [Glossary]
Pelican in its piety (or pelican vulning itself) - Can only be used in armory of members of the Order of the Pelican. [Glossary]
Two straight trumpets crossed in saltire - Reserved to registrations of seals of Principal Heralds. [Glossary]
Wreath (laurel wreath) - May only be registered in the arms of Society branches. [Glossary]
Wreath of Roses - Reserved to Queens and members of the Order of the Rose. [Glossary]

Prohibited Charges

Arbor - 'Additionally, we have the problem that an "arbor" is not a defined heraldic charge. If reblazoned as a wreath inverted, it comes fatally close to the restricted wreath of roses, whose use in the SCA is limited to queens and members of the Order of the Rose.' [LoAR 12a/93 p. 17]
Baby animals. - <Note- the exceptions are a lamb and the period charge, Paschal Lamb.> 'Normally we do not permit the 'baby' forms of an animal. For the sake of the cant on the name, Lambert, we are permitting it here. '[LoAR 8/96 p. 4]
Bagpipe of three drones. - Bagpipes in period had at most two drones.[LoAR 9/92, pg. 52]
Belt in annulo(with a badge) - Used to denote membership in a Scottish clan. Clan chief wore the badge alone and the clansmen wore the badge with the strap in annulo. [LoAR 1/90, p.20]
Bengal tigers proper - Natural tigers proper (Or, with sable markings) are still allowable, but "Bengal tigers" have been drawn in Or, gules, and even Tenne (orange), and therefore their tincture is uncertain. [CL 3/97]
Bog Beast - An SCA-invented, rather than period, heraldic monster. [LoAR 4/94, p.17]
Bordure triple-parted and fretted. "Bordures cannot be parted and fretted in this manner" [LoAR 4/91 p.14].
Brooch, Celtic Triquetrum. <both for unreproducibility and non-period charge>[LoAR 6/91 p.17].
Brooch, Moorish Hair. <both for unreproducibility and non-period charge>[LoAR 8/90 p.15].
Chevron disjoint - A post-period charge (earliest available evidence dates it to the late 17th C.) [LoAR 10/95 p. 16]
Chevron écimé. [with a blunted top].- The chevron écimé does not appear to be a period charge. [LoAR 10/93, pg. 15]
Chinese Phoenix. - There seems to be no standard depiction of a Chinese phoenix [LoAR 9/88, p. 15]
Cross couped gules - Reserved by International treaty to the International Red Cross. [LoAR 5/92, p.25]
Cross, Fillet.- Despite the attenuated cross, this clearly looks like quartering (the impression is the greater since the Germanic nations commonly superimpose a cross on the line of division of their grand quarters....The fillet cross here is perilously close to "thin line heraldry" [LoAR 12/87]
Cross of flame (or composed of flame) - Offensive. Representative of the Ku Klux Klan. [Glossary]
Cross, Non-. Non-crosses are an SCA invention [LoAR 08/00]
Cross, Papal - Granted only by the Pope. [Glossary]
Cross of two thornvines wavy - unreproducibility from blazon [LoAR 2/94 p. 18]
Crosses of six arms - The fact remains that six armed crosses are not a period charge. [12b/93, p.10]
Cross, Star - The fact remains that six armed crosses are not a period charge. [12b/93, p.10]
Crowned Rose - Royal Badge of England. [Glossary]
Crowned Shamrock - Royal Badge of Ireland. [Glossary]
Crowned Thistle - Royal Badge of Scotland. [Glossary]
Domino mask of leaves - unreproducibility from blazon and NPS. [LoAR 4/94 p. 19]
Donnelly Knot - An SCA-invented, rather than period, heraldic charge. [Loar 9/96, p.8]
Dragon's tail - While period examples of lions' and foxes' tails used as charges lend plausibility to the dragon's tail, the dual problems of identifiability and reproducibility make this problematic....[LoAR 4/98 p. 20]
Double tressure flory counter-flory (and variants) - Used in Scottish armory as a Royal Augmentation. [Glossary]
Earhorn - The submittor's own documentation casts serious doubt on the use of the earhorn prior to the seventeenth century and shows such a variety of forms that no one single form could reasonably be deduced. [LoAR 10/88, p. 3]
Ellipsoid - An ellipsoid is not a period charge. [LoAR 01/81, p 10]
Endorse/Cotise [used singly] - You cannot have an endorse or a cotise standing alone. [LoAR 07/81, p 10]
English Sheepdog - This variety of dog appears to have developed after our period [LoAR 5/88, p. 28]
Escarbuncles ending in arrowheads - There was a very strong feeling among commentors from both coasts and points in between that the use of the sign of Chaos from the Moorcock universe in Society armoury was quite inappropriate, not only because of its meaning but also because of its modern associations and design [LoAR 30 Sep 89, p. 11]
Fangs - Have no standard form and therefore cannot be accurately reproduced from a blazon.
Fidelis Knot - The Fidelis knot, as an SCA invention with only two registrations to date [the 1980 defining instance and a 1993 registration], is not sufficiently well-known or defined [outside of the Pictorial Dictionary] to retain as a registrable charge, nor does there appear to be sufficient interest to continue to register it in the future. [LoAR 3/96 p. 11]
Fimbriated ermine - Ermine fimbriation is disallowed [LoAR 08/86, p.17]
Flames - Flames are allowable as charges, but must be drawn correctly. This means that flames "proper" cannot be drawn as "a flame gules, fimbriated Or" (or vice-versa). They should be drawn as alternating gules and Or (or, Or and gules) tongues of flame. [CL 5/95, p.3]
Flames (charges composed of) - Charges composed of flames are not allowed, both because of a lack of period evidence and because the identifiability of the charge is always severely reduced. [LoAR 7/94, p.11]
Fleur-de-lys (gold fleur-de-lys on blue fields) - The use of three, or a semy of, gold fleur-de-lys on anything blue is so strongly associated with the Royalty of France that their use in SCA arms is considered presumptuous. [Glossary]
Gargoyle - Gargoyles do not have a standardized heraldic form and hence cannot be registered. [LoAR 2/91 p.23]
Gateway - As opposed to towers or domed arches (both of which are period charges), this picture of two towers with a partially open gate between them (as can be found in the Pictorial Dictionary) is an SCA-invention. [LoAR 11/96, p.1]
Grinding Wheel - No documentation was provided to support a grinding wheel as a period charge, or indeed as a period artifact. [LoAR 1/93, pg. 35]
Hand - The College felt that a fist "thumbs down" was not an acceptable heraldic charge;[ LoAR08/84, p.5]
Hands of glory (hands enflammed or on flames) - Associated with "black magic". [Glossary]
Hana-gusari - It has not been established that this is an unvarying heraldic charge, even in the Japanese system, which could be depicted solely from the blazon by a competent heraldic artist. If blazoned in western terms, the links in profile definitely become a serious anomaly. [LoAR 02/87, p. 15]
Helm, Mongol - We were given no evidence to support this form of helm as a "Mongol helm", or indeed as any nationality of helm. Such examples of Mongol helms as we could uncover did not show the submitted helm's fur trim or the hanging drapery; our best contemporary example [from an illustrated history of the Mongols by Rashid ad-Din, c.1300] showed a plain pointed cap with "ear muffs" on either side [LoAR 12/92, pg. 15]
Honeycombed - Hence, after the LoAR of April 2002, honeycombed will no longer be registerable in the SCA. [LoAR 9/01]
Horns [on inanimate objects] - Adding horns to inanimate objects doesn't appear to have been a period treatment;. [08/1992, pg. 24]
Horse's skull - the horse's skull does not have such clearlydistinguishing features as to make it acceptably identifiable for heraldic use. [LoAR 5/98 p. 21]
[returning a dragon-tailed demi-woman] This charge fell into the same general category of "halfway between"charges as unicornate horses. [LoAR 1/95 p. 14]
Iceberg - Most of the heralds commenting on this submission found the "iceberg" unrecognizable. An heraldic iceberg would probably be a mountain couped argent, with only the part above the waterline showing. [LoAR 04/85, p.11]
Imperial Dragon (five-toed Chinese Dragon) - A symbol of the Emperor of China. [Glossary]
The Infinity Symbol - Not a period charge. [LoAR 08/81 p. 11]
Kendal flower proper - The Kendal flower, when proper, is a six petaled rose of alternating argent and gules petals. This makes it a variant of a Tudor rose, as the Tudors combined white and red roses in various manners. Tudor roses are restricted charges and cannot be registered [LoAR 01/00 ]
Keyhole - Not a period charge. [CL 11/97 ; LoAR 3/98]
Kirin - There is no heraldic monster called a Kirin. [LoAR 6/91 p.20]
Knotwork - Knotwork is not, by and large, heraldic.[LoAR 07/79, p 70]
Lightning flash (shazam style lightning bolt) - There is a period form for a lightning bolt, but it is not the same as what we modernly draw (sometimes called a "shazam", after similar comic book illustrations). [LoAR 8/83, p.6]
"Linnean heraldry" - The CoA will no longer register flora and fauna in their natural "proper" tinctures if to do so they require the Linnaean genus and species. [CL 4/91]
Lion dimidiated with ship - This famous charge from the arms of the Cities of the Cinque Ports (which may also be blazoned as a demi-lion passant guardant conjoined to a demi-hulk) is actually an effect of the dimidiation of separate coats of arms, and without period evidence for its use as an independant charge its use is considered presumptuous [LoAR 1/98]
Maily (on an ordinary) - Ordinaries of mail will no longer be registered by the College. [CL 11/91, p2]
Mamluk rosette - We will no longer register Mamluk rosettes [LoAR 7/97 p. 21]
Mascle Knot - An SCA-invented, rather than period, heraldic charge. [LoAR 3/96, p.12]
Mitre - Only used in arms of bishops.
Mullet of three points - It is Laurel's opinion that the 'mullet of three points' should be added to those charges no longer registered by the College.&quot; [LoAR 3/92 p.15].
Norse Serpent (Norse twisty beasts) - The Lisbjerg gripping beast is actually just a variety of the Borre-style gripping beasts which were banned in 11/86, and therefore the Lisbjerg gripping beasts were banned at the same time. Finally, after the October 1998 Laurel meeting we will no longer register zoomorphic beasts of any kind. (Jaelle of Armida, LoAR May 1998, p. 28). This charge is no longer registerable [LoAR 03/00] (see also zoomorphic beasts)
Orchids - ....orchids seem to have no standard or standardized form. [LoAR 11/94 p. 14]
Origami - The origami dragon [is] not an identifiable charge. [LoAR 23 Apr 88, p. 15]
Orle Flory - because of its resemblance to the protected double tressure flory listed above. [LoAR 8/93, pg. 19]
Pallium (a pall whose lower edge is couped & fringed) - Only found in arms of archbishops.
Papal Cross - Granted only by the Pope. [Glossary]
Pascal Goat - The use of a Pascal goat blurs the distinction between a goat and a Paschal lamb [LoAR 2/97 p.24]
Pentaskelion - We need some documentation of the pentaskelion arrondy as a period or compatible charge.; It is so large a step from a triskele [which itself is not a period charge so far as we can tell] that we need additional evidence of its acceptability before we can register it. [LoAR 10/94 p. 18]
Pentacle (also the Pentagram) - Associated with satanism and "the occult". [Glossary]
Piping Beast - An SCA-invented, rather than period, heraldic charge. [LoAR 5/92, p.26]
Point Dexter and Point Sinister - Though mentioned in period tracts, no period examples exist of their use, and were considered abatements of honor in any case. [LoAR 12/93, p10]
Red Hand of Ulster - Used as an augmentation in England. [Glossary]
Ribbon - Not a re-constructable charge. This means that ribbons may not appear by themselves, however, uses where the ribbon is not a significant design element (a falcon "belled and jessed", or a hawk's lure on a ribbon) would still be registerable. [LoAR 9/94, pp.15-16]
Rivenstar - Not a period charge. [LoAR 8/92, p.32]
Rose en soleil - Badge of the Plantagenet family. [Glossary]
Rosebud -  Rosebuds have been banned since November 1994. [LoAR 7/96, p.20]
Roundel enchancre - Not a period charge. [LoAR 3/97, p.2]
Royal Dragon (four-toed Chinese Dragon) - Symbol of the Ruler of Korea. [Glossary]
Scandicus neume - irreproducibility from blazon [LoAR 9/94 p. 14]
Sea Serpent *ondoyant/emergent* - The 'sea serpent ondoyant emergent' has been returned before for non-period style' [LoAR 6/90, p.13].
Semy (of Cockroaches) - Considered offensive. [LoAR 12/91 p.19].
Sheet (of music) - A sheet of music is not an acceptable charge. [LoAR 08/81, p. 9]
Ship's Wheel - The ship's wheel turns out not to be a period charge. [LoAR 08/86, p.16]
Six-legged critters - Absent any documentation of period heraldry adding limbs to otherwise ordinary beasts this must also be returned for style.[LoAR 1/98 p. 24]
Snowflake - There is no "standard" snowflake, and therefore the design cannot be accurately reproduced from the blazon. Also, there is a period charge which is visually similar - the escarbuncle. [CL 8/94, p.2]
Spiral - The spiral does not appear to be an acceptable charge; a previous attempt at registration [under the blazon gurges couped] was returned Oct 90. [LoAR 12/92, pg. 21]
Starfish - The natural starfish is not, to the best of our knowledge, a period heraldic charge [LoAR 10/92, pg. 21]
Stream - The primary charge is not blazonable in standard heraldic terminology[LoAR 9/95 p. 23]
Sun eclipsed of the field - Additionally, we have not registered a sun eclipsed of the field since 1985 [LoAR 11/91 p.16]
Swastika (also called Fylfot) - Despite its (albeit rare) existence as a period charge, it is too reminiscent of Nazi Germany to be registered in SCA armory. [Glossary]
Three-headed Eagle (displayed) - Badge of the Holy Roman Emporer.
Tooth or Teeth - As with fangs (above), having no standard form, they cannot be accurately reproduced from a blazon.
Triskellion Gammadion (looks like a 3-armed Swastika) - Offensive. A symbol of one of the branches of the Nazi SS, and currently used by a pro-apartheid, white-supremacist group. [LoAR 9/92, p.39]
Triskelion of Scythes - Deemed too close to triskelion gammadion [LoAR 12b/93 p.10]
Tudor Rose (a white & red rose combined) - Badge of the House of Tudor. [Glossary]
Unicornate Horse - Use of the unicornate horse blurs the line between a unicorn and a horse. [CL 7/92 p.4]
Unicorn horns on random animals - Grafting unicorn's horns onto random animals is not period practice. [LoAR 10/92, pg. 22]
Variously tinctured spots on random animals - The use of multi colored spots appear to be unique to the heraldic panther in period. Just as we do no longer allow the use of unicorn horns on random animals, neither do we allow the use of variously tinctured spots. [LoAR 3/98 p. 19]
Viking tent arch - No documentation for charge being a period artifact.[LoAR 5/94 p. 17]
Wave, Occidental - The wave crest has, by consensus of the College, been barred from general use in Society heraldry since 1983. [LoAR 06/87, p. 6]
Wavy Crested - This line of division was introduced to heraldry in the 20th Century, and is thoroughly modern; [LoAR 9/93, pg. 21]
Whale's Tail - The "whale's tails" are not particularly identifiable, as tails or as some kind of bird displayed. We doubt that they should be added to the collection of allowable "animal parts" as heraldic charges. [LoAR 6/95 p. 22]
Xonecuilli - We no longer register artistic motifs even from European sources without evidence that they are compatible with heraldry.. [LoAR 02/00]
Zalktis - We were given no documentation of the zalktis [a squared off `S' shape,set on its side] as an heraldic charge, or even as a religious symbol. [LoAR 1/93, pg. 28]
Zoomorphic beast - We will no longer register zoomorphic beasts of any kind [LoAR 5/98 p.28] (see also Norse serpent)