LoAR Cover Letter

of the College of Arms
of the
Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.

October 1992

College of Arms, Mistholme Annex,
Box 1329,
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266-8329
5 December 1992

Unto the College of Arms of the Known World, greetings from Baron Bruce Draconarius of Mistholme, Laurel King of Arms!

Herein are the Acceptances and Returns from the Laurel meeting, dated 25 October 1992, for the following Letters of Intent: East, 22 June 92; Outlands, 10 July 92; Middle, 10 July 92; Atlantia, 12 July 92; Trimaris, 15 July 92; Caid, 16 July 92; An Tir, 20 July 92; Calontir, 21 July 92; Atenveldt, 23 July 92; and Meridies, 23 July 92.


The November meeting was held on Sunday, 22 November 1992, and dealt with the following Letters of Intent: Ansteorra, 21 July 92; East, 25 July 92; Caid, 13 Aug 92; Calontir, 17 Aug 92; An Tir, 20 Aug 92; Middle, 22 Aug 92; and Atlantia, 23 Aug 92.

The December meeting will be held on Sunday, 20 December 1992, and will consider the following Letters of Intent: Meridies, 24 Aug 92; Atenveldt, 24 Aug 92; East, 4 Sept 92; East, 7 Sept 92; Middle, 11 Sept 92; Calontir, 15 Sept 92; Trimaris, 15 Sept 92; Caid, 18 Sept 92; Atlantia, 21 Sept 92 Responses and rebuttals to commentary on these LOIs should be in my hands by 12 Dec 92.

The January meeting is scheduled for Sunday, 24 January 93, and will consider the following Letters of Intent: West, 14 Sept 92; Outlands, 15 Sept 92; West, 22 Sept 92; An Tir, 25 Sept 92; Ansteorra, 28 Sept 92; Atenveldt, 30 Sept 92; West, 12 Oct 92; Middle, 16 Oct 92; Atlantia, 18 Oct 92; Calontir, 20 Oct 92; Caid, 20 Oct 92; Atenveldt, 20 Oct 92; Meridies, 20 Oct 92; Caid, 21 Oct 92; East, 23 Oct 92; and An Tir, 23 Oct 92. Commentary on these LOIs should be in my hands by 25 Dec 92; responses and rebuttals to that commentary, by 16 Jan 93.

Thanks to the change in commenting schedules, there will be no official February meeting -- though if the January meeting is very large, we may have to continue it on the scheduled February meeting date of 21 Feb 93. The March meeting is scheduled for Sunday, 21 March 93, and will consider the following Letters of Intent: Middle, 31 Oct 92; Middle, 4 Nov 92; Ansteorra, 5 Nov 92; Ansteorra, 6 Nov 92; Atlantia, 8 Nov 92; Outlands, 14 Nov 92; West, 16 Nov 92; Calontir, 16 Nov 92; East, 18 Nov 92; An Tir, 19 Nov 92; Atenveldt, 25 Nov 92; and Meridies, 26 Nov 92. Commentary on these LOIs should be in my hands by 31 Jan 93; responses and rebuttals to that commentary, by 28 Feb 93.

Roster changes

[Of course there are roster changes. After all, the new roster was published last month.] The Morsulus Herald, Iathus of Scara, is retiring after many years of dedicated service. Please add to your rosters the new Morsulus Herald, Iulstan Sigwealding (Steven Goldschmidt), 704-A Vera Cruz Ave., Los Altos, CA 94022; (415) 949-1745. He will not be on the mailing list; however, do please send him any corrections to the Armorial and Ordinary, or any suggestions for revision.

An Tir has a new Dexter Gauntlet Herald: Rowenna de Roncesvalles (Elizabeth Rowe), 5870 Booth Ave., Burnaby, BC V5H 3A8, CANADA; (604) 432-7183. She will not be commenting at this time.

The Silver Trumpet Herald of Caid has moved to the West Kingdom. He will continue as a commenter and a Pursuivant at Large: Owen ap Morgan (Earl P. Jones), 3825 Canterbury Drive, Redding, CA 96002; (916) 223-5405.

Please remove the Estencelé Pursuivant of Ansteorra, Sorcha ni Fhaoláin, from the roster. Evidently, Real Life attacked her just as she was made a commenter; she has decided to retire for the nonce.

The address for the Halberd Pursuivant of Ansteorra, Kassandra NicKraken, has the wrong ZIP code. The correct ZIP code should be 78731-1205. Please amend your rosters.

The Sycamore Herald of the East has a new address: Esmeralda la Sabia (Andrea Gansley-Ortiz), 642 East End Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15221-3424; (412) 422-6785.

Likewise, the Polaris Herald of the Midrealm has a new address: Osric of Fayrehope (Wayne Morris), P.O. Box 68030, Osborne Village, PO 471 River Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 4B3, CANADA; (204) 477-4065.

Be sure to let me know any address changes as soon as convenient -- preferably before the move, not afterward. I do hate to have LoARS returned marked "Addressee Unknown".

This month's LoAR is brought to you by.....

By now, it should be clear that I've delegated the job of printing and mailing the LoARs. Symond Bayard the Grey, of Atenveldt, is orchestrating the printing, collating, stapling, and mailing -- aided and abetted by his wife, Marta as tu Mika-Mysliwy (Brickbat Herald) and Robin of Rhovanion (plus a varying support group). I am extraordinarily grateful to all of them.

I will still be handling subscriptions and related matters, but if you have any questions or concerns about your copy of the LoAR, contact Lord Symond at (602) 881-9492.

An introduction to commentary

Enclosed with this cover letter is a handout I've prepared for new commenters. It expands on the Administrative Guidelines, and describes what we look for in commentary, in terms of substance, format, and tone. Feel free to distribute it to any heralds who are inclined to become commenters in the College of Arms. (And, while I'm sure most of the College already follows the precepts of this handout, it wouldn't hurt anyone to read it over -- just as a memory refresher...)

Comics culture conflicts

Some of the conflict calls this month (e.g. Order of the Black Widows, Order of the Opus) were against fictional characters in our popular culture -- specifically, comic strip characters. I dislike having to call conflict against such ephemeral characters; on the other hand, if someone submitted the name Clark Kent, I'd almost certainly return it for conflict. On what basis, then, should we judge such conflicts?

There are two categories in the List of Protected Items (Administrative Guidelines, pp.2-3) that would cover such conflict calls: Category D, Famous Characters in Literature, and Category H, Trademarked Items. Most comic book characters' names are copyrighted these days, as a matter of course, and many are trademarked as well: Marvel and DC are said to be particularly trademark-happy. Our problem lies in the fact that most superhero names are of exactly the same nature as many SCA Order and household names: an epithet or descriptive, taken as a personal noun. Storm, Valor, Swordsman, Ice, Guardian, Phoenix are typical superhero names -- and some of them, as you see, are direct conflicts with registered SCA names. (Heck, Marvel even managed to copyright Meggan, a common given name!)

If I understand rightly, the purpose of trademarks is to keep competitors in a field from manipulating or benefitting from one another's reputations. Trademarks don't infringe when the intended use of the products is so different as to make the chance of confusion negligible. Thus the Excel (the car from Hyundai) doesn't infringe on Excel (the software from Microsoft). The Apple Music Company had no objection to Apple Computers using their name -- until the latter started manufacturing music-making Macs.

If that's the case, then we only need to worry about infringing on copyrights or trademarks when the intended use of the SCA-registered item is too close to the use of the trademarked item. In practice, I suppose this means fighting groups can't call themselves the West Kingdom Avengers or the Justice League of Atlantia -- but I don't see that the Shire of the Storm really infringes on the superheroine Storm.

That leaves protection as Famous Literary Characters, and this is more subjective. I don't want to get into a debate as to whether comics are Literature-with-a-capital-L; it's the fame of the characters, not the quality of their scripting, that concerns us. Infringement requires the character's name to be well-known; unknown names, by definition, won't be recognized as comic book characters. (The issue is related, in a way, to that of intrusive modernity: if people recognize a name as a comic strip character, they automatically know it's not medieval.) Most people haven't heard of most comic book characters; and even well-known superhero names (Captain America, Wonder Woman, Batman, Spiderman) are usually returnable for non-period style as well.

There are thus few comic characters that need to be protected: the aforementioned Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, possibly Mary Worth, Bart Simpson, Charlie Brown, perhaps a handful of others. Those conflicts are, unfortunately, valid -- but they will, in all cases, depend on whether the character's name has seeped into the public consciousness. We can't depend on finding these items in general references, our usual standard for importance. I'll try to be as objective as I can, but it'll still boil down in most cases to polling Yeomen on the Road to see who's heard of the name.

A Bulletin re: Bulletin Boards

The Steward has recently reaffirmed that officers of the Corporation may correspond on computer bulletin boards -- but that they should be cautious in doing so, avoiding posting any message that might be taken as an Official Word. As warranted heralds are officers of the Corporation, the same stricture applies to us. I don't want to stop, or even hinder, anyone from participating in the dialogues on the nets, but they should do so as private individuals, not as members of the College of Arms. Any opinions expressed must be specifically and prominently marked as personal opinions, not as official CoA policy statements.

I should also note that courtesy is as important on a BBS as it is in person -- more important, really, since (a) the terminal can't convey any of the facial cues that help distinguish wry humor from snide remarks, and (b) discourtesy on the BBS will be noted be dozens of readers. Remember that the entire College may be judged by the words of an individual -- and this is as true in electronic media as in personal encounters.

A reminder about Orders of Knighthood

The Board of Directors has asked for opinions on reorganizing the SCA Peerages as three Orders of Knighthood, in the Summer 92 issue of Tournaments Illuminated. Completed questionnaires should be sent to the Corporate Secretary by 31 Dec 92. If you have any opinions on this topic (pro or con) and haven't yet sent in your questionnaire, do so as quickly as possible.

Complex lines for chaussé and its kind

Over the last couple of months, we've received a few submissions that used chaussé, chapé and vêtu field divisions, with complex lines of partition added. (For example, Vert, chaussé raguly argent.) The question has been raised whether these field divisions may use any complex line other than ployé.

Chaussé and chapé made their appearance very late in our period. As nearly as I can tell, chaussé began as a French depiction of a pile (and was even blazoned Per pile by the English armorists who described it). Chapé, or mantelé, seems to have been the French description of the German rendition of Per chevron; the examples in Siebmacher shows that the Germans depicted their chevrons as ployé and throughout, and their Per-chevron fields would have followed the same convention.

If chaussé is a variant form of a pile, and chapé a variant form of Per chevron, then in theory there's no reason they can't use complex lines of partition. On the other hand, derivation isn't necessarily identity: new conventions might have evolved with the new fields. For instance, while a Per chevron field can have three charges, a chapé field properly only has one, in base.

For now, I will continue to permit chaussé and chapé fields to use complex lines. However, I would welcome research on this topic; in particular, I'd like to see what period examples exist for complex chaussé and chapé. If any of the evidence suggests that these fields evolved without complex lines, we may have to disallow them in SCA heraldry. If you have anything to contribute on this topic, please present it within the next few months.

"Monday, Monday..."

I'd like to diffidently remind the College that Monday is the official Laurel Night Off, and ask that you not call me on Monday evenings. There's no emergency in the SCA so great that it can't wait twenty-four hours. Trrrust me...

Green trimounts and color fields

One of the submissions considered this month (Ördög Magyar Béla) engendered considerable discussion among the commenters, and at the Laurel meeting. The submission used a green trimount on a blue field, which violates the SCA's Rule of Contrast, outlined in Rule VIII.2.b.i. However, there's ample period evidence that green mounts and trimounts were routinely used on colored fields, usually gules or azure. The LOI cited only a couple of examples, but the former Lord Codex has written a monograph showing several dozen period examples, from English, Portuguese, Italian, Hungarian, Austrian and German heraldry.

At what point, then, should we permit a documented period usage that violates our Rules? On the one hand, it is a documented usage; on the other hand, there are other documented usages we explicitly disallow. Ideally, we should be promoting period style; equally ideally, we should have a uniform set of Rules that heralds at every level can use. "Every Rule has its exception"; but too many exceptions destroy the Rules. There is no right answer. At best, we can only strike a balance between competing principles.

The issue of "regional style" doesn't obtain here: green mounts were used on color fields across Europe. It's purely a question of the usage we wish to encourage, without making our heraldic system too unwieldly to use. My own thought (voiced independently by Lady Harpy) was that green trimounts on blue or red fields could be specifically designated an exception to our Rule of Contrast. There's some precedent for this, mostly from the names rules: e.g., Rule III.2.a forbids mixing prepositions in one language with placenames in another -- yet we routinely permit the French de to be used with English placenames, on the basis of extensive evidence.

Much of the commentary on Béla's submission had an undercurrent of "Well, I wish we could pass this, but the Rules say...." If that's the feeling of the College, this issue could be addressed to Lord Palimpsest for further discussion, leading to a possible Rules change. Remember that any Rule we devise must be easy to use, must not consider persona, and should approximate period style. Alternatively, we could simply define exceptions to the Rule, such as the green trimount, and let precedent deal with the problem. Or, finally, we could leave the Rule as it stands, and note that the loss of perfect authenticity is the price we pay for usable Rules.

Please give some thought to these issues, so we'll be able to deal with them when they rise again -- for I feel certain they will rise again.

Et cetera

Enclosed is a flyer for the Known World Heraldic Symposium in June 93. Please direct any questions to the autocrat, Lady Irene von Schmetterling (Wendy Chadwick); and mark the day on your calendars!

Lord Black Lion reminds me that Proceedings from An Tir's Known World Symposium are still available, through him. The cost is $6.50 plus $2.50 postage; please make checks payable to the An Tir College of Heralds.

I remain, Yours in armory,

Bruce Draconarius of Mistholme,
Laurel King of Arms.

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