Taigh Moran Chat
RR 2, Northside Road
Wading River, NY 11792
9 November 1987
Unto the members of the College of Arms and any others who may read this missive, greetings from Alisoun MacCoul of Elphane, Laurel Queen of Arms!
The enclosed letter deals with the submissions processed at the Laurel meeting of 27 September. Included were the letters from Atenveldt (6/1), Calontir (6/3), Caid (6/7), West (6/10), and Outlands (6/18) as well as the June Laurel letter of intent and a number of pended items. Of 190 items encompassed in this letter 137 were accepted and 53 were returned for an acceptance rate of 72%. We note with regret that this acceptance rate would have been considerably higher were it not for the unusually high rate of submittors from some kingdoms who forbade any changes to their names, requiring the return of acceptable armoury because of an otherwise resolvable difficulty with the name.
The October meeting was held on 31 October. At that time were considered Ansteorra (6/26), Atenveldt (7/1), Caid (7/12), West (7/15), Calontir (7/26), and the letter from Trimaris dated in May, but mailed in July. The letter from An Tir (7/27) was postponed due to paperwork problems.
The November meeting will be held on 21 November. At that time we will consider Middle (7/28), Atenveldt (8/1), Meridies (8/1), West (8/5) and Caid (8/9). The letter from An Tir (7/27) will be considered if the paperwork difficulties are resolved in time.
The December meeting is set for 19 December and will consider East (8/31), Atenveldt (9/1), Atlantia (9/13), Caid (9/13), Outlands (9/16), West (9/16), Atlantia (9/28) and Calontir (9/28).
The January meeting is now scheduled for 24 January. Note that this is a very tentative date because of the late scheduling of some events for which the Laurel staff has strong commitments. At that time we will consider Atenveldt (10/1), Caid (10/4), West (10/21) and Outlands (10/24).
There is a new Saker Herald in Calontir, Raonull Modar (Ron Knight, 243 South 11th, Kansas City, KS 66102; 913321-0654). Please add him to your mailing lists.
White Stag has also informed me of some errors in the listing for the Outlandish heralds on the recent roster of the College. White Stag's own mundane family name is "Wenzer" (with no "l") and he lives on Resler Drive, not Resler Road, as stated in the roster. Also, the appropriate title for Ælflæd of Duckford is Gimlet Pursuivant, not Gimlet Herald.
ON PRESERVATION OF THE LAUREL FILES
When the Laurel files were shipped to me from California I discussed with my staff the precariousness of our heraldic history: most of our records are preserved only in the Laurel files in my basement. Were serious damage to befall the submissions records of the Laurel Office it would be not only a loss of our history, but would also have a seriously deleterious effect on the workings of the Laurel Office. While some Kingdoms, such as the West, might be able to reconstruct submissions made through their offices, most would not. Given the frequency with which Laurel meetings find it necessary to compare potentially conflicting emblazons (some thirty to forty files are pulled at each meeting), accurate and just consideration of submissions would become difficult if not impossible.
At that time, the discussions were theoretical and more urgent priorities forced us to abandon them. However, a recent break-in at my house has raised the issue once again. We were lucky in one sense for the burglars were apparently kids who contented themselves with stripping the house of jewelry, most of it costume jewelry of no value save that attached by sentiment, and ignored the electronic equipment so that the greatest immediate damage was the amount of time spent consumed by the aftermath of the burglary and the resultant delay in completing this letter. However, had our rural youth been more "enterprising" the break-in could just as easily have resulted in serious vandalism in the files or an arson fire to cover the robbery with disastrous results for the files.
I am asking now for suggestions on methods in which we could best be protected from the loss of the Laurel files. The technical expertise of many members of the College in data storage and retrieval techniques of various kinds is considerable and far surpasses my slim experience with obsolete microfilming and microfiching techniques. Optimally, an archiving system would permit storage of all materials currently in the Laurel files, including colour emblazon sheets. This would probably rule out conventional Xerography for many early emblazon sheets photocopy quite poorly, as many of you have had cause to discover. A desirable feature would be the ability to consult the archived material directly through some indexing feature with periodic updates essential. Cost for storage and maintenance of the system would be an important consideration.
If possible, I would like to have some detailed ideas to present to the Board for their consideration at the meeting for the first quarter of 1988. I know that the actual implementation of such a project would probably not be in place for a year or more, but the time has clearly come to begin thinking about it. The danger of losing twenty-two years of essential records is far too real!
ON THE PROTECTION OF HOUSEHOLD NAMES
In many respects, the philosophical issues raised in conjunction with the submission of the name Alaric Liutpold von Markheim have been the most difficult of my tenure as Laurel. Most members of the College have strong feelings on this issue and the arguments presented touch on some of the most basic concepts involved in our heraldic traditions.
For the sake of the newer members of the College, it may be advisable to review the "modern" history of household names and their protection. Armoury and household names have been registered by the College "since the memory of man runneth not to the contrary" (for example, a badge and an augmentation for Headless House were registered in 1973). Protection of the household names was sporadic, to say the least, for some years due largely to technological limitations apparently. In the course of the thorough recasting of the Rules for Submission that occurred in the summer of 1981, it was decided that, since the advent of a computerized Armorial had removed the technical difficulties, household names should be protected fully and that this should be reflected in the Rules. (Those who were present at the Caerthan Symposium in August of that year may recall the Elmet Herald of the East, one Alisoun MacCoul of Elphane, doing some significant table-thumping in support of the concept that "what we register we must protect"!)
This was the state of affairs for some years. At the very end of his tenure, Master Wilhelm passed the name of Hilary Fairehaven (now Nereid), despite the previously registered household of Fairhaven registered to Hrorek Halfdane of Faulconwood (now Chevron). As this was passed without any comment, it is unclear that it was intended to set a precedent. However, in later discussions during Master Baldwin's tenure, it was treated as if it had been a precedent. In the section of the Rules issued at the end of Master Baldwin's tenure dealing with individual names, no reference is specifically made to Society names and it is a matter of opinion whether the statement on conflict made in NR15b ("Personal names shall not conflict with other registered Society names") was intended to include conflicts with Society households. In the section on Household Name Conflict (NR21b), it is stated that "Conflict will not be considered between household names and personal surnames or bynames", but that can equally be taken to apply only to the registration of household names. In other words, it can be reasonably understood as a one-way proposition, like the "visual conflict test", i.e., that household names cannot conflict with personal names but personal names could conflict with household names.
When the submission of Alaric Liutpold von Markheim first came before the College, various Western heralds commented adversely and made some serious and well-considered suggestions for emending the situation as they considered it to stand. Summarized, they suggested that "famous" Society households with manufactured names be protected from infringement so long as only members of the household had registered names including the household name. Response to this suggestion from many heralds was immediate and strong: some felt this was an excellent idea, others felt that it was unfair to the "obscure" households, still others considered that it would be a convention impossible to administer with equity because of the difficulty of determining what was a "famous" household.
On the whole, this discussion has been an exercise in conflicting "gut feelings" and abstract theory for many members of the College, Laurel included. Many felt uncomfortable with the concept of someone calling themselves "Petunia of Bellatrix" or "Frodo von Halstern", but at the same time felt that there was something wrong with the concept of fame (or infamy) as a primary criterion for protection.
In considering this issue, we felt it necessary to evaluate the basic functions of our rules and to consider why the Society protects names and armoury against conflict. The discussions at the recent Symposium were very helpful in this regard, pointing as they did to the fact that our rules on conflict are designed to prevent confusion and avoid creating offense. If someone appears, through their name or armoury, to be someone or something that they are not, that can cause confusion or offense or both.
Clearly, the use of household names in personal names gives the impression that the person bearing that name is a member of the household in question. If they are not, then confusion is created and offense may be created, depending on the circumstances. Viewed in this light, it becomes apparent that Brachet and Vesper are correct in assuming that the Society must have a vital interest in preventing infringement of household names.
However, Gold Falcon, Crescent and the members of the College who have objected that the Western proposal is unworkable and places undue stress on the undeniably subjective criterion of "fame" are equally correct. As the history of the submission in question makes clear, a name that may be of unsurpassed fame in one or two kingdoms may be nearly unknown in others (the submittor's name was changed to Markheim by the heralds of Ansteorra to avoid a technical problem!). The names Elandris and von Halstern may convey immediate meanings to a subject of the East or Atlantia, but mean nothing to Caid, while Griffin Freehold may mean nothing east of the Mississippi.
This being so, it seems that the only just and reasonable path is to protect household names, but to protect only registered household names. This will ensure that the name in question has been deemed free of conflict with protected mundane or Society entities, has been judged compatible with the period ambience of the Society and is not in and of itself offensive. By protecting all registered households, we avoid any accusations of favouritism and encourage selection of household names which are consonant with the goals of the College and the Society as a whole. Furthermore, since all registered households are included in our database with crossreferences in the Armorial, conflict checking is not only practical but convenient. Finally, since the rules on conflict place restrictions on what may be registered as a household name, this should not unacceptably reduce the possibilities for personal name registration since a majority of pre-existent placenames from fiction, mundane history or Society geography cannot be registered as a household name.
Registered household names shall be protected by the College of Arms. Such household names shall not be included in personal names of those not members of the household without specific permission from the individual to whom the household name is registered. Such household names shall also be protected against infringement by the names of Society branches, Society awards or other Society households.
A BOOK NOTE
It had to happen! Dover books, the benefactors of generations of costumers and chroniclers in the Society, has finally branched out into heraldry. In the Dover Christmas catalogue is included a new volume Design Your Own Coat of Arms. The forty-eight page volume in the typical Dover letter size format is advertised as follows: "Step-by-step directions show how to trace shape of shield, its divisions, select appropriate symbols that reflect your character and achievements, even how to register your new coat of arms. Includes over 100 heraldic elements to trace and use." All this for only $2.95! We cannot at this point give an evaluation of the volume since Laurel's copy is still on order, but it looks like a potentially useful volume for consulting heralds who, like Laurel, cannot draw. For those who are interested, the catalog number is 24993-X.