Mount Pleasant, SC 29465
24 November, 1989
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 October meeting was held on Sunday, October 15 with a secondary meeting the following weekend to consider late-breaking commentary on the letters from the East (7/15), Ansteorra (7/16), West (7/16), Meridies (7/24) and Calontir (7/31). Of 166 actions arising from this meeting, 150 were positive and 16 were negative for an overall acceptance rate of 90%.
In order to preserve the sanity of the Laurel staff in the face of the mass of November submissions and the Board-mandated "parallel processing", two meetings will be held on the letters scheduled for November. On Saturday and Sunday, November 25 and 26, a session will be held to consider the submissions under the "old" rules. The following weekend a separate session will be held to consider the same submissions under the "new" rules. The results of the two meetings will then be collated and the letter of acceptance and return prepared for publication using the guidelines set up by the Board. The letters that will be considered using this procedure include An Tir (3/8), An Tir (6/15), Atlantia (8/1), East (8/5), Caid (8/6), West (8/6), Atenveldt (8/8), Ansteorra (8/20), Middle (8/29), Atenveldt (8/31), Meridies (8/31) and Calontir (8/31).
Due to the changes in the scheduling for commentary on the Administrative Handbook, the December meeting has been moved to the (by now almost traditional) date on Christmas weekend with the combined Laurel staff Christmas Eve party and submissions processing fête. We sincerely hope that "parallel processing" and/or lack of commentary will not require a New Year's Eve party. The letters scheduled for the December session include Trimaris (9/5), East (9/10), East (9/11), West (9/17), Ansteorra (9/21), Outlands (9/23), Caid (9/25), Meridies (9/25) and Calontir (9/30).
The precise date of the January meeting is still somewhat uncertain due to possible travel plans on the part of Laurel and some of her staff. It will, however, be no earlier than January 13 and may be as late as January 27. (We are sorry for the lack of certainty, but certain events are beyond our control...) Letters to be considered in January include An Tir (6/15), An Tir (9/15), East (10/16), Caid (10/18), Ansteorra (10/21), Meridies (10/26) and Calontir (10/30).
As of November 5, there is a new Gold Falcon Principal Herald in Calontir: Gawayne ap Tristam (Wayne Taylor, 1137 Gidley, Wichita, KS 67216; 316-524-0917). After a successful tenure as Principal Herald, Christopher Amber will continue his service to Calontir in the position of Saker Herald and continue to deal with submissions while Charles Stewart O'Connor continues as Habicht Herald and Alban St. Albans continues as Lanner Herald. Gold Falcon asks that you add to your mailing lists for commentary the new Hawk Herald of Calontir: Ambrose sans Tonsure (Shaun T. Gilpin, 1112 Kingston, Bellevue, NE 68005; 402-292-3530).
After more than three years of outstanding service to Caid and the College as Crescent Principal Herald, Bruce Draconarius of Mistholme passed on the baton to Akagawa Yoshio as of November 18. In a cloak swap similar to that occurring in Calontir Yoshio becomes Crescent Principal Herald, Zenobia Naphtali becomes Dolphin Herald, and Bruce becomes Silver Trumpet Herald. The addresses for all of these remain the same and all will continue commenting. Hrorek Halfdane of Faulconwood continues as Chevron Herald and should be maintained on the roster but not on the mailing list.
The Star Principal Herald has a new address: David Appleton, 1610 Vinecrest Circle, Garland, TX 75042. So too does the Brigantia Principal Herald, Arval Benicoeur (Josh Mittleman, 50 Croton Avenue, 1F, Ossining, NY 10562; telephone 914-945-0443).
Those who have not already done so should remove Tadhg Liath of Duncairn, Actuarius Pursuivant of Ansteorra, from the mailing list, as he has resigned from participation in the College's commentary.
Removed from the mailing list for failure to comment in a timely manner are Pegasus Devona (Æstel Herald of An Tir), Alwyn Stewart (Mons Tonitrus Pursuivant of Atenveldt), Damon de la Main (Eastern Crown Herald of the East) and Lachlan Sinclair Dumas (Lambent Herald of Meridies).
On a happier note, the surname for the Laurel Ombudsman (Graidhne ni Ruaidh) has been modified to Hughes upon her marriage to the Habicht Herald of Calontir, Charles Stewart O'Connor (m.k.a. J. Patrick Hughes). Congratulations to them both!
A completely revised roster will accompany the letter covering submissions considered in November. All Principal Heralds and other members of the College are strongly encouraged to examine carefully the roster published this spring as well as the amendments in recent letters of intent. If there are any inaccuracies in your own listing or any others from your kingdom, please notifiy me immediately so that the roster can be as accurate as possible.
This is particularly important in the case of members of the College who are "on the mailing list" since faulty addresses can lead to post being returned. Not only this cause unnecessary expense to the members of the College and Principal Heralds who send them correspondence, but it also impairs their ability to comment.
However, the addresses for regional and Principality heralds who do not comment are also vital and post returned to the Laurel Office with "forwarding order expired" notices indicates that some kingdoms are not keeping us as up to date on address changes as they might!
RULES FOR SUBMISSIONS
As many of you already know from our brief and informal communication earlier this month, at the October Board meeting the Board took some action on the Rules for Submission presented for their approval by Badger and myself. Although the text of the Laurel Ombudsman's communication was contained in that letter, it seems appropriate that it be repeated in a more formal context "for the record":
The Rules for Submission have been approved for the "phase-in" interim use described by Badger in his cover letter with one variation. Devices that would pass under the new rules but not under the old rules shall be pended until late January at which time Master Marten has indicated that he would be willing to undertake another draft revision, should commentary show it to be necessary. There were strongly presented concerns that loopholes in the Rules on differencing would allow things to pass that were too visually similar to already registered SCA arms. (Several Board members concurred. I abstained from voting.) If these concerns are unfounded, this should be no problem. If there is a problem, the Rules for difference (Section X) certainly need re-examination.
Many submissions heralds have contacted me to ask about details of the implementation of this mandate from the Board. As noted above, we are starting with literally parallel meetings, one considering all submissions under the old rules, one considering all submissions under the new rules, using differently coloured Post-It notes for each meeting. Once the two meetings have been completed the results will be collated and the letter written. (By that time, I hope to have had a response to some queries on implementation presented to the Board.)
Please note that this letter, covering a larger than usual meeting with lower than usual commentary will be fairly massive and may take a considerable time to complete since most of the "commentary" on the submissions under the new rules will, in effect, have to be generated by Laurel and her staff. We realize that you are most eager for news of submissions and general policies and will try to keep you posted in as timely a manner as possible.
Copies of the first draft of the Administrative Handbook have been in the hands of members of the College of Arms and other interested parties for some weeks now. As noted in the informal letter alluded to above, the schedule for commentary has necessarily changed due to the Board-mandated publications schedule for the second and third drafts. Commentary dates are now as follows:
December 1 Commentary in on Draft 1
December 15 Draft 2 out to Board and College
January 1 Commentary
January 16 Draft 3 (Final???) to Board and College
We appreciate that this is very tight schedule for commentary, particularly since it comes at a period of the year when many devote less time to the Society and more to mundane connections. However, we beg everyone to give us the benefit of your input, positive and negative, on these drafts.
It cannot be stressed too strongly that this is another opportunity for you to affect the direction that the College will take. The Laurel Office has received some very strong statements of concern about the manner in which the implementation of the Rules for Submission was modified due to strongly stated criticisms of those rules. In many cases, these expressions of concern come from heralds who liked earlier drafts of the Rules for Submission so felt it unnecessary to comment (or commented only verbally to Laurel or Badger). As a result, when it came to the crunch, written commentary circulated to the College and the Board on an official basis determined the actions that were taken.
Remember that the rule of heralds' offices is Non scriptum, non est (If it isn't in writing, it doesn't exist)!
As everyone knows by now, Laurel's tenure in office runs out with the Third Quarter Board meeting in 1990. As everyone should have figured out by now, she has absolutely no intention of putting in for another term. (This has nothing to do with events: it is a matter of conviction, often stated to the College, that four years is enough for one individual to have that power and bear that responsibility.)
This is a formal call for resumes from those wishing to be considered for the position of Laurel Sovereign of Arms. All resumes should be sent to Laurel, the Laurel Ombudsman and the Corporate Secretary. Laurel would like to see at least a preliminary discussion of the issue of succession at the January Board meeting and would appreciate receiving resumes in time for the Board deadline of January 16. Delays in publication of the formal call in newsletters (entirely the fault of Laurel and her resident daemon) have made it likely a final decision will not be made until the April Board meeting, but any members of the College who are interested in the position are strongly encouraged to send in a resume early.
Prerequisites for the job include a thorough familiarity with Society heraldry, administrative experience in high-level submissions processing and an understanding of the structure and duties of the College of Arms. In practice, this translates to successful service as a Principality or Kingdom Herald with responsibility for submissions and general heraldic administration. While not strictly speaking required, active participation in commentary and general discussions at the College of Arms level for a significant period of time within the last couple of years is strongly advisable in order to ensure the necessary familiarity with recent discussions of issues confronting the College.
In theory, a computer would not be required for the job, although access to a typewriter or high-quality word processor is. In practice, the production of letters of acceptance and return and reports, financial record-keeping and correspondence would be virtually impossible without the assistance of a microcomputer, preferably one with a reasonably large amount and available hard disk space and access to a high-quality printer (e.g., a laser printer.) This could be accommodated on an IBM-compatible or a Mac. Note that, although Laurel currently is running her records on an IBM-compatible system, the primary packages used also have Mac equivalents and so data files could be exchanged.
Maintenance of the Laurel Office also requires the ability to store in an accessible manner the Laurel files and library material. At the present time, this is upwards of eight four-drawer file cabinets and several large bookcases. In fact, it requires exclusive use of a reasonably sized bedroom (11 X 14) in Laurel's new house, with some of the "archival" material in storage and most of the books on shelves in other rooms. Note that it would be possible to store some of the files at a staff member's house, but they would need to be accessible on a more or less continuous basis to complete letters of acceptance and return and respond to letter and telephone queries so that that staff member had better be a very close and very understanding friend!
Before committing to this responsibility, please consider the time and money demands of the office. While her successor need not make the commitment to far-travelling and telephone that the current Laurel has in the interests of making the office accessible to all geographic areas, it is an expense that cannot be covered entirely from official reimbursements or tax write-offs (those who have been Principal Heralds will understand this!). Moreover, even with the best support staff in the world, it is necessary to commit at least two weekends a month just for routine consideration of submissions and production of routine letters of acceptance and return, etc. This does not include time spent in "crisis management", on the telephone or at the word processor, routine administration (e.g., filing, etc.). The current incumbent reckons that in an average week she routinely spends sixteen to twenty evening hours on the office each week (outside of the weekends). A superb support staff and more radical delegation could cut this somewhat, but it is still necessary to accept reduced attendance at events, reduced flexibility of social life and diminished access to aspects of the Society and other hobbies for the duration of the warrant. (If the other words, if you cannot function on an even keel in the Society without refreshing "event breaks", don't even consider this job: if the ordure starts hitting the cooling mechanism, you can find yourself going for two or three months without an event!)
CALL FOR SYMPOSIUM BIDS
In the wake of the rather contentious and stressful Heraldic Symposium in Caid, a number of heralds were significantly "bummed out" on the concept of Symposia. These included heralds from more than one group which had indicated a strong interest in hosting the Symposium in 1990. Since the climate for generation and consideration of bids was so inclement, it seemed advisable to postpone the bidding process until this jaundiced view of the utility of Symposia abated somewhat. Since Laurel's experience has been that the "active stage" of the Symposium management process has not suffered unduly from being postponed until January or February, she agreed to postpone the call for bids.
The time now seems appropriate to ask for bids to host the 1990 Symposium. It also seems appropriate to stress the essential purpose of the Symposia: to allow members of the heraldic community to get together, to become acquainted more intimately (it is always harder to "slang" someone whom you have met in person), to form "information links" and informal "networks" that will assist in the smoother functioning of the College.
This has always been the most productive aspect of the Symposia. This was true in Caerthe in 1981 when we hashed over Rules for Submission, in Atlantia when we discussed approaches to style, in the West when we talked "independent heraldic jurisdiction" and heraldic nominalism versus realism. It has also been true at Symposia where there were no overriding issues before the College and no ground-breaking papers or transactions to take home. The Symposia should always allow the time and facilities for this kind of interaction: if it occurs, the Symposium is a success if not a single formal discussion or workshop is held; if it does not, the Symposium will be a failure despite the most organized of course curricula and heaviest debates of principle.
Such "socialization" will be particularly vital in 1990 which will be one of the greatest transitional periods in the history of the College of Arms. There will be a new Laurel (see the preceding item). Half of the Principal Heralds of the Known World will have changed since the 1989 Symposium, including some of the prolific submissions/commentary correspondents. The new Rules for Submission and new Administrative Handbook will have (hopefully) come out of their initial Sturm und Drang periods, allowing distribution to all local heralds and the beginning of a major new heraldic education push throughout the Known World.
All of these transitional areas should be considered in planning a bid for the Symposium and for the Symposium itself. In particular, we would like to see the Symposium scheduled for May, June or July (i.e., between the second and third quarter Board meetings) to allow a series of joint sessions with the retiring Laurel and her successor to clarify for all concerned issues concerning the transition and, if necessary, policies of the Laurel Office. In the last two transitions between incumbents of the Laurel Office, must time and energy was wasted in clarifying how transitions would be handled and how the "new regime" would handle ongoing problems, administration, etc. It is Laurel's hope to obviate this by some serious planning with her successor and to be able to communicate the results of that planning to the College and the wider heraldic community at the Symposium.
All bids should include as detailed an account as possible of the proposed date, location, sponsoring group, autocrat(s), accommodations, travel options, costs, proposed special features (workshops, exhibits, feasts, dancing, etc.) and nay other information that would be relevant. Essentially, anything that would be put into an event flyer to attract people to the event and/or given them information about the event should be included, if it is available. Note that most folk will give preference to proposals that are as specific as possible about the costs and accommodations as well as the general outline and special features.
Copies of the complete bids should be sent to Laurel and to every Principal Herald by the first of February. Again, if a bid is substantially complete earlier, please send it out to allow extra time for commentary. (If possible, including a "notice of intent to bid" and/or a summary of the bid information in a December or January letter of intent would be helpful.)
Principal heralds are asked to consider each bid both on its general merits and its viability for their Kingdom and, where possible, consult with those heralds in their kingdom who might be interested in attending the Symposium. You will be contacted for your reactions to the bids in mid-February and a decision will be made on the bids no later than the first of March. (We will, if possible, make a decision earlier, but cannot commit to this.)
Please note that Kingdoms do not "vote" on bids per se: the idea is to for Laurel and her staff to derive an idea from the Principal Heralds of which bid will serve the needs of the widest sector of the Society's heraldic population the best. This can be judged in part by the numbers attending, by the diversity of attendees, etc., but these are only partial considerations and others can apply.
Many months ago, we proposed a research project into mechanisms for archiving the Society's heraldic records to protect them in event of fire, storm or other disaster. Although the files have made it more or less safely to South Carolina, the recent natural disasters in California and South Carolina underlined the need for some sort of "fall-back" for the official Laurel files. Moreover, preparation for packing the files reminded several Laurel staff members of the fragility of some of the paper used and its friability as it ages (using acid-free paper for forms is not common even now!).
Laurel's experiences over the past months have also reinforced her conviction of the necessity of the "pictorial record" of Society registrations. It is necessary to have constant recourse to the files to carry on the business of the office properly (trips to New York to work on the move were carefully co-ordinated with Laurel meetings so files could be pulled for comparison before letters were finalised!). Were some disaster to befall the files, it would be nearly impossible to reconstruct the material that we have committed to protect, particularly in the case of some of the earlier material where eccentric blazons often are involved.
When we called for suggestions for archiving techniques and volunteers to produce proposals for presentation to the Board (and possibly other sources of financial assistance), the response was abysmal: one noble soul volunteered. Everyone else felt it was something that needed to be done, but that someone else needed to do it.
Time has passed and technology has improved (and become cheaper) since that last appeal. Laurel would dearly like to have this project in train by the time the office is passed on. Indeed, the point of transition might be an ideal time to produce secondary archival records for storage at the National Office or in a secondary heraldic archive elsewhere (possibly as digitized records).
To that end, I am looking for one or more individuals who would be interested in organizing a feasibility study for this project. Requirements include enthusiasm, some familiarity with applicable technologies (or expertise in parallel fields such as general computer databasing and willingness to expand the expertise) and, if possible, some familiarity with the type of material which is included in the Laurel files and the manner in which it is accessed and used currently (although this last could be "specked out" by Laurel).
INTER-KINGDOM CEREMONIAL PROJECT
Some time ago, Laurel delegated to a deputy the task of developing an inter-kingdom resource base on ceremony, including comparisons of kingdom traditions on ceremony, precedence, sumptuary limitations and insignia, etc. This project never truly got off the ground and that deputy has now moved on to different spheres of endeavour.
This project goes well beyond a mere collation of fixed forms for ceremonials, scrolls, etc. where these exist. It can and should include information on traditions of precedence, insignia, sumptuary laws and traditions, etc. throughout the Society as well as directories of sources for such information.
This is a project that is definitely worth-while, given that so much of our tradition is retained only the memory of a few "history preservers". It is also distinctly useful in view of our mobile Society: tradition and Laurel precedent dictate, for example, that regalia earned in one kingdom may be worn in another, even if the second kingdom does not recognise that insignia (for example, viscomital coronets). When confronted with a situation involving regalia, orders, traditions derived from another geographic area, some sort of centralized information base, even if it was only a directory of information sources, would be of great use to many members of the College.
At this point we would like to revive that project and hereby advertise for a deputy to handle at least the start-up phases of the project (continuance beyond the summer would be up to Laurel's successor). The ideal candidate would be an experienced court and field herald who has lived and worked as a herald in more than one Kingdom (although this is not strictly speaking necessary). Tact, courtesy and organization are required as are enough free time from other commitments to be able to plan and complete the preliminary phases of the project over the next six months or so. Availability of a computer and the ability to produce a regularly updated database or reference are strong desiderata, although a motivated candidate could of course acquire a computerised assistant for the "nuts and bolts" end of the project.
Those interested in applying for the position are asked to contact Laurel by January 10 with a resume and, if possible, some ideas of their own on what the first phases of the project should entail.