30 March 1986, 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 are the letters of acceptances and returns for
the January and February Laurel meetings.
The January meeting was held on the 19th. Letters of intent were
processed for the Middle (9/30), Ansteorra (10/10), East (10/17),
West (10/24), Atlantia (10/25), East (10/26), East (10/27), and
Atenveldt (10/31). There were 158 approvals, 20 returns, and
1 pending item, for an 88% approval rate.
The February meeting was held on the 16th. Submissions were processed
for Laurel (1/5), Calontir (10/30), Atenveldt (11/7), Meridies
(11/10), Caid (11/11), West (11/12), East (11/27), East (11/28),
and Ansteorra (11/29). There were 240 approvals, 24 returns,
and 4 pending items, for a 90% approval rate.
The March meeting was held on the 9th. Letters of intent were
processed at this meeting for An Tir (12/10), Caid (12/11), West
(12/18), Ansteorra (12/22), East (12/22), East (12/23), and An
The April meeting has been scheduled for the 6th. Letters of
intent will be processed for the East (1/16), West (1/19), Caid
(1/21), Ansteorra (1/24), East (1/27), and Calontir (1/30).
The May meeting has been scheduled for the 18th. The letters
of intent to be processed at this meeting are Atlantia (2/1),
West (2/12), Caid (2/14), An Tir (2/23), Ansteorra (2/24), East
(2/26), and Meridies (2/28). Letters of comment for this meeting
should arrive no later than May 10.
The Trimaris letter of 2/14 [received 3/25] will be processed
with the March letters of intent. I have not received forms for
the Middle Kingdom letters of 12/30, 1/15, or 1/20.
Master Hirsch von Henford has retired as Stellanordica Herald
of the Principality of Oertha. His successor is Mistress Antadina
Exeter du Nordlac (Jeanne C. Stapleton), 200 Denali Street, Anchorage,
AK 99501; (907) 2724192. She is not a commenting herald
at this time.
In light of the writings of Roger F. Pye ("A return to first
principles: III Semy") and Eowyn Amberdrake ("An essay
on semé"), I have decided to treat semy as
a group of charges. This appears to be more consistent with mundane
armory than our present policy of considering semy to be
a treatment of the field.
This precipitates several other changes, and raises a few questions.
The following discussion addresses the ones we have been able
1) Semy is defined as "strewn with as many identical charges
as will reasonably fit." The number of charges is not specified.
On a field, this generally means that there are more than six.
2) Mistress Eowyn's research in period rolls of arms has shown
three ways of depicting semy on the field: (a) as small whole
charges; (b) as if cut from cloth, with partial charges at the
edges of the field; and (c) in a combination, with whole charges
wherever possible, "but if the edges of the shield get in
the way, or the main charge gets too flamboyant, then cut off
the charges as needed." All three of these depictions are
3) On a bordure, semy is drawn as an uncounted number of whole
charges. A bordure semy of roundels may be blazoned as "a
bordure charged with roundels."
4) On the field, semy tends to be placed around, rather than under,
any overall charges. Thus, while it does contribute to the complexity
of a coat, semy on the field is at the same level as the overall
charges (i.e., it does not increase the number of layers). On
a charge, semy adds depth. Thus, "Azure, semy of millrinds
Or" has two layers (field + charges), and "Azure, semy
of millrinds and a fess Or" has two layers (field +
charges), but "Azure, a fess Or semy of millrinds gules"
has three layers (field + charge + semy). The dividing line is
whether the semy lies on the field or on the charges.
5) For purposes of difference, a bordure semy is identical to
a charged bordure. This means that, under our present system
of difference, the addition of a bordure semy is worth a major
plus a minor point of difference. This is a change from existing
6) Ermine is a special case: although it sometimes takes on some
of the characteristics of a semy, it is not a semy itself.
7) The effect of this change on the rules of difference is problematical.
Under the 1984 Rules, the addition or deletion of a semy of charges,
combined with a change in tincture, division, or line of partition,
is worth one major and one minor point of difference. If we treat
semy as a group of charges, this raises the amount of possible
difference to two full points. This is reasonable in the simplest
cases, and excessive in the most complex. Visually, field + semy
appears to range between 1.5 and 2 points in the cases we presently
regard as major + minor, and to be pretty close to 1 point in
the remaining cases.
My references, for those interested in pursuing the question further,
Roger F. Pye. A return to first principles: III
semy. Coat of Arms VII(53): 206208.
Eowyn Amberdrake (Melinda Sherbring). An essay on semé.
In Analecta Aspilogica II: Essays on Heraldry and Nomenclature,
pages 16. Free Trumpet Press, 1985.
Treblerose noted in a recent letter of comment that the term shamrock
was ambiguous, in that charges blazoned as shamrocks appeared
under both 3foil and 4foil in the SCA Ordinary.
My assumption (reinforced by the research I had done for the article
on trefoils in the 9 November cover letter) was that a "shamrock"
was a specific stylization of a trefoil, distinguishable in blazon
but not in terms of difference. According to the New Columbia
Encyclopedia, the shamrock is "a plant with leaves composed
of three leaflets." (p. 2491) The mundane references occasionally
spoke of the shamrock in conjunction with the trefoil; but I could
find none that compared it to the quatrefoil. Had SCA custom
become schizophrenic on the topic?
My curiosity having been piqued, I pulled the folders for all
the shamrocks appearing under quatrefoil in the Ordinary. With
one exception, all of them had three lobes. Some of them were
even drawn as conventional heraldic trefoils.
I have therefore reblazoned the foil of ANGELINA MACDOUGAL as
a "fourleaved shamrock" (which is how it was originally
submitted by the Principal Herald), and am here noting, with a
mutter under my breath, that the otherwise undistinguished shamrocks
listed under "4foil" should instead be "3foils."
What I muttered was, of course, "Curses ... foiled again!"
Please believe me to be,