December 25, 1981 XVI
To: The Members of the College of Arms
From: Master Wilhelm von Schlüssel, Laurel King of Arms
Enclosed is the December Letter of Acceptances and Rejections, containing 68 entries--47 acceptances and 21 rejections. My next meeting will be on Sunday, January 17, 1982. My meetings generally fall on the third Sunday of each month, unless that date conflicts with a local event. It is possible for circumstances to cause me to have to move the meeting up one week at very short notice. Because of this, I ask you all to try to have your comments on LoIs that I will be considering reach me before the weekend before the announced meeting date (e.g., if the meeting is scheduled for January 17th, comments should arrive before the weekend of January 9/10). Each month I will be processing the submissions from Letters of Intent dated up to two months previous to the meeting date. If I wind up delaying the meeting a week, then I would like to be able to process submissions up through the next week, so as to maintain my two-month backlog. Allowing one week for letters to reach you and one week for your letters to reach me (a liberal allowance), this still leaves almost six weeks for you to consider a given Letter of Intent, at a minimum, and up to ten weeks for those which just missed being considered at the previous meeting. This should be sufficient.
The rate of issuance of Letters of Intent should be fairly constant now that most kingdoms have caught up on their backlogs, so it will only take a one-time burst of effort for all of you to catch up this extra amount. Thereafter, it will be no harder to maintain than it was before. All of this has come up because there are always one or two Letters of Comment (often with rather important comments) that reach me during the week after my meeting. All of the hard work put into these letters is thereby practically wasted. They still provide information for general reference, but they do not help me to consider the submissions they were commenting on. At one time, the Letters of Comment were called 30-day letters because that was how long you had to consider submissions before your letters were due. I am asking you to consider your Letters of Comment to be 40-day letters and to hold to that schedule. I very much want your comments, but I will not let my backlog grow to wait for them. I promised the Board that I would maintain my current backlog.
This month I reviewed the status of the members on the active list, and I found that five had not sent in Letters of Comment for at least three months. I have moved them off the College of Arms Mailing List and onto my Laurel Mailing List. They will get copies of my letters, but will no longer receive copies of LoI's and LoC's. The College members cannot afford the postage and copying to send copies to people who will not comment on them. I enclose a current copy of these two lists. Please look to see if your name has been moved. We are down to 25 members on the College of Arms Mailing List. (My list now stands at 30, so I mail out 55 copies a month.) If a person who
has been moved from the College list to my list wishes to be moved back, then s/he should obtain copies of the current LoI's from the Kingdom Principal Herald and send in Letters of Comment on them, to demonstrate that s/he is now active again. This is also the process that a person who is new to the College should follow if s/he is not a newly-appointed Principality, Regional, or Principal Herald (or their representative). These will be put on the list as soon as they are brought to my notice.
Now that that bit of unpleasantness is taken care of, I would like to wish you all Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Solstice, Happy Mithra's Birthday, Happy New Year, Seasons Greetings, and Happy Saturnalia. I hope you all have a pleasant holiday season and a great New Year. May all of your pursuivants do their job right the first time, may all of the submissions you receive be acceptable, and may your respective royalty always consult you before they act.
It has come to my attention that there is a fair amount of confusion concerning the special cases in the points of difference. I will try to explain. The basic rule is that an SCA device must have two major points of difference from other registered SCA devices, and a major and a minor point from everything else. An SCA badge must have a major and a minor point of difference from all registered SCA devices, and from important official SCA badges, and from important/well-known arms in the mundane world and in fantasy. SCA badges must have a major point of difference from everything else. As a matter of common sense, SCA devices may be required to have two major points of difference from particularly well-known and/or important mundane arms, such as the arms of England. These are the general rules.
The specific cases are as follows:
If two SCA devices are exactly the same except for the colors or metals comprising the fields or charges, then, when they are both made into tinctureless seals, they will form the exact same seal. This could cause confusion. Also, it is a fact that humans remember shapes much better than colors. If two SCA devices differed only in their colors, they would have exactly the same lines, and would therefore be confused unless they were placed right next to each other. Even then, there would appear to be a relationship. For these reasons, there is a specific rule that states that, if two SCA devices (or arms) differ only in the colors or metals of the field or charges, then they conflict, even if they technically have enough points of difference. (This does not apply to personal badges.) This also applies to well-known/important mundane arms. Nobody may have In pale three lions passant guardant, no matter what tinctures they use, as there would still be a conflict with the arms of England.
Another case arises from the use of round shields in the SCA. If a device is placed upon a round shield, it will be displayed at all states of rotation on the field while it is in use, and it will not be clear what the intended rotation state is. Therefore, if two submissions are identical except for a state of rotation, then they conflict, even though they may technically have enough points of difference. Normally, a cross and a saltire differ by a major point of difference, as they are different charges, even though they are just an X in two different rotation states. However, if you had Quarterly azure and gules, a cross argent, and Per saltire gules and azure, a saltire argent, then you would have a conflict between the two, even though technically they differ by a major point for the field and a major point for the difference of charge. They conflict because they are identical except for rotation. If we changed the cross argent to a cross embattled argent, then the two would not conflict, because now they would not be identical. In fact, now they would differ by two major points and one minor point. This case also applies when considering a device versus important/well-known mundane arms. It does not apply to a badge submission, as the badge will not be borne on a round shield. The rule applies to all, not just to fighters, as we can never be sure that somebody won't become a fighter later.
The third special case occurs when you consider two submissions which each have only one charge. If these charges are completely different, then the devices do not conflict, even though they may technically not have enough difference. Thus the device Argent, a cross azure does not conflict with Argent, a lozenge azure, even though technically there is only the one major point for difference of charge. If we replaced the latter with Argent, a cross crosslet azure, then there would be a conflict, because the two charges would then not be completely different. They would still differ by a major point, as they are different, but they are not completely different, being rather similar. Another example would be a horse versus a lion (no conflict) compared to a horse versus a unicorn (conflict). When the devices have more than one charge each, this exception starts breaking down. A lozenge is completely different from an estoile, but if you had Azure, three lozenges argent versus Azure, three estoiles argent, then you would have a conflict. The exception does not apply, because the overall arrangement of the charges is still the same, and so both are still three things in the standard two-and-one position. The special-case exception arises from the previously state fact that people remember shapes well.
This includes arrangements. Thus, while a person would have no trouble telling the difference between a lozenge and an estoile, even at great distance, that same person would have trouble with three lozenges versus three estoiles, if seen at a long distance, of if only one is seen and the other is remembered. This is because the first thing that would come to mind is the arrangement of two and one. This would be the same. The next would be the colors of the charges and the field. This would also be the same. Finally, the shapes of the individual charges would come to mind. The two would differ only by one major point of difference (type of charge) and would thus conflict.
I should put a note in here about counterchanging. We no longer reserve the counterchange of one's submission, and so counterchanging is now a major point of difference if it is done in a case involving a single-tincture field and all charges having the same tincture. Thus Pean, three lozenges argent differs from Argent, three lozenges pean (its counterchange) by a major point of difference. When the difference involves only a permutation of some of the tinctures, then a minor point of difference is obtained. An example is Argent, in pale a lozenge azure and a mullet gules versus Argent, in pale a lozenge gules and a mullet azure. When considering conflicts with Japanese mon, we must deal with the fact that they only had the distinctions of light on dark or dark on light. This corresponds to color on metal or metal on color. If one sees in a book on Japanese mon a mon that is displayed as Sable, a lozenge argent, this means that the mon is really a light-colored lozenge that will be displayed on dark fabrics. Thus, it would conflict with any device consisting of a color field with a metal lozenge as the only charge. A metal field with a colored lozenge as the only charge would be viewed as the counterchange, and would thus differ by a major point of difference.
I would like to remind everybody that I want you all to make sure that the names of the branches in your area are submitted. Please set up a cooperative arrangement with your seneschal to compare notes on all branch-status requests so that the name and arms of the branch are submitted at the same time as the request for elevation in status. The Steward is working on a form for branch names for use by the seneschals. Please try to encourage the branches in your area to submit arms. All baronies, provinces, and principalities are required to do so. If a region is likely to become a principality, then it should register its name and, when it gets close to becoming a principality, it should submit its arms. We might want to formally accept regions as a type of branch and allow them to register arms. What do you think?
Until next month, pray believe, my Lords and Ladies, that I remain
Master Wilhelm von Schlüssel
Laurel King of Arms
/Cynthia Fitz Colline
25 December 1981 XVI A.S.
P.S. A number of newsletters have my address wrong. Please use the address on the roster. In particular remember that the zip code is
94702. All Principal Heralds are reminded that it is time for them to begin preparing their Domesday Reports for the year. Send a copy to me, to your Sovereign, and to your Kingdom Seneschal, as well as to anyone else you normally send it to.