Some thoughts from doing heraldic consultation in
By Brunissende Dragonette:
NB: this was initially being written for the East
Kingdom and modified for a larger audience. Some aspects
will vary from kingdom to kingdom. For example kingdoms can
have one or several submission heralds, with different
tasks. The general process is however similar.
In the East, being a warranted herald means that you can
receive money for people's submissions and forward it with
the required paperwork to your (internal) submission
herald. There are some variations between kingdoms, but the
consultation itself is mostly similar.
Before the blessed moment when you get to mail the
paperwork, there is the consultation, which can be easy, or
not easy at all. Remember that you don't have to know
everything and can ask questions. Feel free to ask, for
instance, how to document what the submitter wants, or
about administrative trivia. Your kingdom heralds'
discussion list and the SCA one are great resources and you
can find how to join them here.
I. Find a place for the consultation
Consultations can occur at various places. Whether you
are a local pursuivant or a pursuivant at large, you can
organize consultation tables at events and meet people at
practices and workshops.
Most event stewards will allow consultation tables at
their events. The minimum you need is a table for books,
forms, and pens. Access to electricity and the internet
will allow onsite conflict checking and viewing of online
documentation. You will meet more people while consulting
at events, which is a great advantage. Even if you don't
have the time or opportunity to do the complete
consultation, you can exchange contact information and get
a brief description of what the person is looking for.
Smaller venues, where you will meet fewer people, encourage
low stress and in-depth consulting.
Another way to consult with people is by email, and
sometimes this is more convenient. It gives you the time to
research challenging issues in more depth.
The first thing you need to do is listen to the person
you're helping. The requests can be diverse and you need to
make sure you understand precisely what the person wants.
In this step you can learn what elements of the submission
are most important to the submitter, if the submission has
any likelihood of being registered, and what the submitter
would allow the College of Arms to modify for
You will meet different types of submitters: some have
used a name for years and are adamant about not allowing
changes to it; some want to register a device and only care
about the name as an administrative requirement; some have
a precise idea of what they want; some are not individuals,
but new groups with more enthusiasm than knowledge; and
some come to you simply looking for direction.
This is a good time to tell your submitters about the
submission process, and what characteristics allow a name
and device to be registered.
Next, you will need to check the rules for submissions.
The condition sine qua non for your submission to go
through the whole process is to follow the rules for
submission (RfS). Always keep the RfS where you can find
them easily. You can also bookmark the following this link.
Device submissions generally don't need to be documented
unless they use a charge new to the SCA, or use a specific
element that appears a priori to violate the rules for
submission, but can be explained in some acceptable way
(such as regional examples of arms that violate the rules
The two main parts of device submissions are conflict
checking and drawing the device. Early conflict checking
will help your submitter, since you can detect issues
before the submission and avoid some returns. However,
there will also be conflict checking during the commenting
process. You can find a short checklist ("insta-boing") of
what can provoke immediate return here.
Examples of the way to draw heraldic charges can be
found in period rolls of arms (many of them found online)
or the pictorial dictionary. Information about heraldic
style and grammar can be found on the educative pages of the
Names generally need more documentation. In fact, lack
of documentation is a cause for administrative return.
Every component of a Society name must be documented as
being compatible with period naming practices or otherwise
registerable. Not all names sources are acceptable for
registering SCA names. The
Laurel siteis an excellent source of useful
Essentially, a name needs (at least) 2 elements that are
compatible temporarily (both elements are dated less than
300 years apart) and geographically (both elements belong
to cultures close enough to allow cross-cultural names).
Missing one of these conditions is considered a step from
period practice (formerly called a "weirdness") and more
than one step from period practice renders the name
unregisterable. Looking at period examples encourages more
authentic names, just as this research encourages more
authentic devices. Name documentation doesn't need to be
voluminous. It should justify the submission as simply as
Submitted names, like devices, need to be sufficiently
different from the ones already registered. The rules for
submission explain how to determine the required
difference. The list of the names and devices registered
and protected in the SCA can be found in the SCA armorial.
Ideally, you find the wanted armory does not conflict
with anything registered or you easily find the
documentation for the name your consultant wants. Explain
to the submitter what you have chosen and describe the
documentation. This might seem unnecessary, but it's a good
occasion to educate. They may pass on whatever you tell
them about proper documentation to others who want to
register their names or devices.
Always make sure that the consultant agrees with the
name and/or drawing that you are sending away. In the case
of a submission for a group device and/or name, you will
need a petition that describes what is being submitted
(name and arms).
VI. Complete the paperwork and mail it
You will need the submission
You will need to send 2 copies of each name's
documentation (that's the official form and potentially
You'll also need to send one outline drawing (black and
white version with none of the components of the drawing
filled) and 3 color copies for a device or badge
Don't forget the check! Who/what the checks are made
"payable to" will depend on your kingdom.
VII. Now what?
The submission is going to go to the (internal)
submission herald. Devices and badges will be scanned. All
documentation will be summarized. These will be used to
assemble an internal letter of intent. The internal letter
of intent can generally be found on the relevant kingdom
The next step is internal commenting. People with
varying competencies will try to improve and strengthen the
submission and find problems that would prevent
registration. No herald has an obligation to comment, but
it's an excellent exercise.
Once commenting closes, the submission herald in charge
of deciding determines which submissions to forward to the
upper level (Laurel, also called Society), and which to
return for further work. Some kingdoms have a specialized
Herald who communicates these decisions to the submitters,
but the decisions are also generally published in a letter
of decision. It is always a good thing to get the
information to the submitter as soon as it's officially
released: informing consultants about kingdom-level
decisions as soon as you can find them will make for happy
customers. Do it.
Names and devices that have passed the kingdom level are
then included in an external Letter of Intent for a new
round of commenting from out-of-kingdom heralds. This round
of commenting will last 2 months. At the end of this
commenting period, decisions will be made separately for
the names submissions and heraldry submissions. Once a
month, submissions from all kingdoms are decided in the
same meeting. The Pelican Sovereign of Arms decides whether
to register each name. The Wreath Sovereign decides whether
to register each heraldry submission.
Once they have made these decisions, it takes a few more
months before the Sovereigns of Arms issue the Letter of
Acceptances and Returns (LoAR). This delay is necessary to
check information, solve administrative issues, make one
coherent document of decisions made independently, and
proofread the LoAR before it is made available to all. Each
LoAR can be found on the Laurel Sovereign
of Arms site.
Again, submitters love to get the answer directly from
their local herald. I suggest you to inform anyone you know
with submissions in a freshly released LoAR of the