9 July 1985, A.S. XX

Unto the members of the College of Arms,

from Baldwin of Erebor, Laurel King of Arms.

My lords and ladies,

Enclosed herewith is the letter of acceptances and returns for the Laurel meeting of June 9. Submissions were processed at this meeting for Laurel (3/31), Middle (2/24), Ansteorra (3/3), Calontir (3/3), Caid (3/8), West (3/10), Atenveldt (3/13), and Middle (3/17). There were 152 items approved and 23 returned, for an 87% approval rate.


The letters to be processed at the July 14 meeting are An Tir (3/26), East (4/1), East (4/5), Caid (4/11), West (4/19), Atenveldt (4/20), Middle (4/20), and Ansteorra (4/25).

The Calontir letter of 5/12 will be processed on Sunday, August 11th, at the Known World Heraldic Symposium in the March of Trinewydd.

The regular August meeting has been scheduled for the 25th. The letters to be processed at this meeting are Ansteorra (5/8), Atenveldt (5/16), Caid (5/16),

An Tir (5/23), West (5/26), East (5/28), and East (5/30). Letters of comment for this meeting should arrive no later than August 17.

The September meeting has been scheduled for the 15th. We will be reviewing letters of intent from Ansteorra (6/10), Calontir (6/11), Meridies (6/15), the West (6/16), Caid (6/20), and East (6/27). Letters of comment for this meeting should arrive not later than September 7.

Tentative meeting dates for the remainder of the year are October 13, November 10, and December 15. These are subject to change depending on local event and work schedules.

Mailing list

Mistress Lucie de Villebruyant Boniface, Corona Herald, has asked to be removed from the list of commenting heralds. She has been overtaken by the pressures of mundania.


In his letter of 28 Dec 82 (p. 8), Master Wilhelm ruled that "A horseshoe is, by default, in a 'U' orientation." In a recent letter of comment, however, someone (or perhaps it was several someones) pointed out that this is the opposite of mundane convention. A couple of this month's submissions had horseshoes in them, so we decided to investigate the usage question further.

According to J. P. Brooke­Little (An Heraldic Alphabet, p. 120), "Unless otherwise blazoned the horseshoe is represented ... with the extremities pointing downward, in careless defiance of the not­so­old superstition." Franklyn (Shield and Crest, p. 211), Woodward (pp. 356 and 453), Parker (p. 333), and Elvin (P. 37, f. 45) all show the same.

Checking the Laurel files, we found only three instances of horseshoes, two of which (CADWALLON CORNWEALHAS (1978] and SELFRAN RAVENSDOTRIR [1984]) were blazoned according to mundane convention. The one exception was the device of ANNE DOUGLAS OF THE SEVEN STARS (now HANIYA BAT BARUCH), who (amazing coincidence) happens to be changing her arms this month. I am therefore adopting, the mundane default (with the opening to base, so the luck runs out) as SCA practice, and have reblazoned Haniya's old device to be consistent with this convention. If anyone knows of any others, please let me know.

The point­and­a­half rule

The SCA system of points of difference works fairly well with moderately complex coats, but it tends to break down when the two coats being compared are relatively simple. The most common case appears to be that of a single dominant primary charge within a group of obvious secondary charges, such as a charged chief or bordure. Changing the type of the primary charge produces a significant visual effect ­ more than would be produced by chancing the type of the secondary charge ­ yet it contributes no more technical difference.

This results in a series of unsavory alternatives: (1) return the coat, even though they're obviously different; (2) pass the coat, even though the rules say they conflict; (3) play games with the ambiguities in the rules, in order to boost the point count; or (4) make gratuitous modifications to the coat in order to add extra difference. None of these addresses the real problem: the point count does not reflect the visual difference between the two coats.

In the past several months, I have proposed amendments to the Rules for Submissions that would allow change in type of the primary charge to contribute up to a point­and­a­half of difference between two coats consisting of a single charge plus a a charged or modified chief or bordure. The response to the proposals has been largely favorable; and since they permitted approval of several submissions which people felt ought to be approved (regardless of the technical difference), I have been applying them on a tentative basis.

The problem is a general one, not confined solely to chiefs and bordures, so a more general definition of the rule would seem to be in order:

Point­and­a­half rule. Between two simple coats, difference in type of primary charge may contribute up to a major and a minor point of difference.

The actual extent of the rule will have to be determined by experience. At present, the following seem clear:

1) In each coat, the primary charge must be the dominant part of the design. A complex field or a group of unlike secondary charges may detract enough from the importance of the primary to remove the extra minor point of difference.

2) The primary charges must be significantly different. Except in the simplest cases, they should probably be completely different.

3) The primary charges should not themselves be charged.

I'm not certain what kind of restriction we should place on number of primary charges. It seems reasonable to insist that at least one of the coats contain only a single primary charge, but one of this month's submissions (ALGERNON BLACKSWORD) suggests that we don't necessarily have to require this of both coats.

Since there appears to be an immediate need, I have begun applying the revised point­and­a­half rule on a tentative basis, starting with several of the submissions in this letter. See the discussion on Algernon Blacksword (West), Anthony of Hags Head (Atenveldt), Boris of Woodland (Ansteorra), Dieter des Schwarzen Eichkatchens (Middle), Dragonship Haven (East), and Eoin Scott na Daingniche (Middle) for details. I have also noted one instance, Stuart Osric de Becquet (Middle), where I feel the point­and­a­half rule does not apply.

Et cetera

I will be leaving for vacation on Saturday, August 3rd (the weekend before the heraldry Symposium) and returning August 17th or 18th (the weekend after). Except for the weekend of the Symposium, I will be unreachable during most of the two­week period.

I pray you believe me to be, my lords and ladies,

Your servant,

Baldwin of Erebor

Laurel King of Arms