SCA - College of Arms
P.O. Box 742825
Dallas, TX 75374-2825
(214) 276-2129
CompuServe 74107,1446

June 8, 1995

Unto the members of the College of Arms and all others who may read this missive does Shayk Da'ud ibn Auda, Laurel King of Arms, send Greetings!

The May 1995 Laurel meeting was held on Saturday, May 20, 1995, and considered the following Letters of Intent and Letter of Intent to Protect: Calontir (undated); East (1/4); Meridies (1/12); An Tir (1/14); Middle (1/14); Caid (1/20); Ansteorra (1/21); Atlantia (1/22); Drachenwald (1/26); Drachenwald Letter of Intent to Protect (1/26); West (1/28); and Outlands (1/28). Original commentary on these LoIs must have been in the College's hands no later than March 31, 1995. Responses and rebuttals to commentary must have been in the College's hands no later than April 30, 1995.

The June 1995 Laurel meeting is scheduled for Saturday, June 17, 1995, and will consider the following Letters of Intent and Letters of Intent to Protect dated February 1995 (plus two LoIs dated in January but not mailed until February: Atenveldt (1/10, but mailed 2/6); Calontir (1/23, but mailed 2/6); Harpy Letter of Intent to Protect (2/1); Scribe Armarius Letter of Intent to Protect (2/1); East (2/14); Outlands (2/15); Drachenwald (2/15); Atlantia (2/19); Trimaris (2/25); Caid (2/25); and West (2/27). The An Tir February 16 LoI will be considered at a "roadshow" meeting at the Known World Heraldic Symposium on Sunday morning, June 25. Original commentary on these LoIs must have been in the College's hands no later than April 30, 1995. Responses and rebuttals to commentary must have been in the College's hands no later than May 31, 1995.

The July 1995 Laurel meeting is scheduled for Saturday, July 15, 1995, and will consider the following Letters of Intent: Ansteorra (3/2); Atlantia (3/12); West (3/12); An Tir (3/14); Outlands (3/20); and Caid (3/27). Original commentary on these LoIs must have been in the College's hands no later than May 31, 1995. Responses and rebuttals to commentary must be in the College's hands no later than June 30, 1995.

The August 1995 Laurel meeting is scheduled for Saturday, August 12, 1995, and will consider the following Letters of Intent: Atenveldt (4/4); Brachet Letter of Intent to Protect (4/11); An Tir (4/13); East (4/14); Caid (4/16); West (4/19); and Atlantia (4/23). One LoI will be considered at a "roadshow" meeting tentatively scheduled for Friday evening, August 18, at Pennsic. Original commentary on these LoIs must be in the College's hands no later than June 30, 1995. Responses and rebuttals to commentary must be in the College's hands no later than July 31, 1995.

Not all Letters of Intent may be considered when they are originally scheduled on this Cover Letter. Date of mailing of the LoI, date of receipt of the Laurel packet, or other factors may delay consideration of certain Letters of Intent. Additionally, not all Letters of Intent received have been scheduled because the administrative requirements (receipt of the forms packet, receipt of the necessary fees, etc.) have not yet been met.


As of May 20, the new Black Lion Principal Herald (An Tir) is Torric inn Bjorn (formerly Queue Forché). Please change his title and add him to the mailing list. The previous Black Lion, Eric Ward of Winchester, is going to take a well-deserved vacation, and should be removed from the Roster.

Sinister Gauntlet (An Tir), Sorcha ni Fhaolain, is stepping down to take up duties compiling Laurel's precedents. She should be removed from the An Tir section of the Roster and placed as a Herald at Large on Laurel Staff.

Crescent asks that you add to the Roster and mailing list Gold Forest Pursuivant Extraordinary, Tonwen ferch Gruffydd Aur (Rae Hadley), 10701 Cedar Avenue #74, Bloomington, CA 92316; (909) 873-1641; She has been commenting regularly for several months now.

Fretty Herald (Outlands) has moved. His new address and numbers are: Karl von Schattenburg (Chuck Wilson), 2306 Chelwood Park NE, Apt. 1-A, Albuquerque, NM 87112; (505) 293-3692;

The transfer of office having taken place, please move Rouland Carre, currently Pursuivant at Large for Atenveldt, to Laurel Staff as Palimpsest Herald. He will remain on the mailing list. The former Palimpsest, Talan Gwynek, will be assuming his duties as Pelican King of Arms as of July 1, and should be so listed on the Roster and mailing list.


We heard with regret of the passing away in early May of Sir Anthony Richard Wagner, Clarenceaux King of Arms and formerly Garter Principal King of Arms, and before that Richmond Herald and Portcullis Pursuivant, and one of the greatest scholars the English College of Arms has had in this century.


The question of mixed Gaelic/English names appears to have been widely misunderstood. The legitimacy of combining names of Gaelic origin with names of English (or for that matter French or Norse) origin has never been in question; but it should be done in a reasonable way. What distinguishes this particular combination from most others is that Gaelic orthographic conventions are startlingly different from those of English; the English and Gaelic "codes" for representing sounds are very dissimilar. For example, English doesn't use bh or mh for the sound of v; Gaelic does not use the letter v. Writing Gaelic names in an English setting is therefore akin to transliterating Chinese, Russian, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic names: although the alphabet is largely familiar, many of the phonetic values of its letters and letter combinations are not. For example, the symbols Ainmire Ó Catháin are in English a very poor representation of the name; the Anglicization Anvirre O Kaane, on the other hand, is an excellent representation according to the conventions of sixteenth century English. Note that differences in spelling conventions between such languages as French and German are small by comparison and were even smaller in period.

We regularly require that Chinese names use a single transliteration system throughout, whether Pinyin or Wade-Giles. Similarly, we have required reasonable consistency of transliteration of Russian and Arabic names, modifying submitted forms to avoid glaring inconsistencies. Are we then to ignore the documentary evidence and allow widely divergent transliteration systems in this instance? All of the evidence found to date demonstrates that mixed Gaelic and English names were written according to a single set of spelling conventions, either Gaelic or English. (This is not to claim that either of these systems was itself entirely uniform, of course.) After all the discussion on this issue, no one yet has presented any evidence that supports anything but consistency of transliteration in either Gaelic or Anglicized Gaelic (well, okay, or Latin) for Gaelic/English names; consistency which we already require for names in a number of other languages.

As a consequence, it is my belief that we should require consistent transliterations of Gaelic/English names: such names should be spelled according to Gaelic conventions or according to English conventions, but should not drastically switch spelling conventions from Gaelic to English or vice versa in mid-name.

COMPUTERIZED COMMENTARY (or, Getting Run Over on the "Information Superhighway")

Enough people have apparently misunderstood the point I was trying to make in the April 2, 1995 Cover Letter that I will try to clarify here. I thought that it was clear from the context and from some of the specifics that I was most definitely not trying to force people to use e-mail or diskettes in their commentary. Neither will I require e-mail access, or even a computer, for participation in the College of Arms.

What I was trying to do was to get those people who already use computers to write their commentary, and to get people who already have an e-mail address, to consider two related though different things: (1) sending Laurel an electronic copy, either on diskette or via e-mail, of that commentary in the near term; and (2) thinking about how we might more fully integrate electronic media in our deliberations and commentary in the future. As I said there, "[t]here has been some discussion on the Net regarding the cost of being an active commenter in the College and ways in which those costs might be brought down." Let me repeat: The suggestions there are not something that I foresee becoming an essential part of how the College works. But it is expensive to be an active commenter in the College. If we can find a reasonable way to reduce at least some of that expense, it is certainly worth our looking at it.

(For those who would like to reduce their copying and mailing costs somewhat and have the capability and interest now, I recommend getting in contact individually with other commenters in the College who have e-mail addresses to see if they would be interested in or amenable to sending/receiving commentary by e-mail. This would be done on an individual basis and would be strictly voluntary.)

As far as the Laurel office goes, as noted on page 4 of the same Cover Letter, I need to receive two copies of all commentary, and one of those must be a hard copy. (I expect that requirement to remain. Occasionally, disks get damaged, misrouted, or are otherwise unreadable. E-mail can get lost in the ether somewhere. The hard copy is the "official" file copy; it goes in the permanent files, and it makes the best backup if something bad happens to the second copy.) The second copy either needs to be a one-sided hard copy, or it can be on diskette or sent via e-mail. The reasons I prefer to get an electronic copy rather than a physical cut and paste copy are two-fold: (1) It reduces the amount of paperwork that we have to track separately from letters received electronically. If it's received electronically, it all goes into a single file which I use when considering submissions and which gets sent to Pelican from Laurel when the commentary deadline is reached; photocopies of the physical cut-and-paste commentary would be far too expensive to make and mail, so Pelican has to keep track of those separately, as well. (2) I can process an electronic LoC at least four times faster (and usually more than that) than I can a hard copy one. (I am finding that many times e-mail copies are easier to process than ones received on diskette, but that's a bit off to one side of the current topic.) So I am trying to encourage those who already have the capability to send me their commentary via diskette or e-mail.

Now, let me reiterate: None of this is meant to make anyone feel that they are being pushed to upgrade their technology, use systems they don't have or with which they are unfamiliar and/or uncomfortable, or to indicate that the College is ever going to mandate a computer and/or access to e-mail to participate in the activities here. It is meant to encourage people who already have the capability to consider using it more fully in their activities in the College, at the very least so far as sending things to Laurel. I admit that I foresee the day when such media become an accepted adjunct to the customary channels of communication the College of Arms. As a consequence, I believe it is better for us to think about this and make some conscious choices now, rather than waiting until we find out some day that there are four or five informal groups within the College doing it already, each with different procedures and using different protocols, and only then try to create a more or less unified and consistent system.


Of the several comments received to date on the proposal in the April 2, 1995 Cover Letter of an ASCII equivalency chart for some of the special accented, etc. characters that we use, I feel that I need to explain a couple of the choices that I made in selecting these particular equivalents.

I used the closing single quote in all instances for an accent because not everyone's printer will make a discernible difference between the single open quote (') and the single close quote ('); I would not want to have the correct interpretation of an grave accent from an acute accent be a difference that some monitors and some printers will not make (for example, my dot matrix printer, which prints them both as the same character). As a consequence, I thought that placing the same figure (the single close quote) either in front of or behind the accented letter to indicate the angle of the accent was a method which everyone would be able to use.

I chose a single quote rather than a slash (/) or backslash (\) for accents because we occasionally use the letter ø, for example, and needed a way to allow for that. The simplest and most logical equivalent appeared to me to be {o/}, but that meant that accents needed to be marked some other way.

It has been suggested that the double quote (") is more intuitive for an umlaut than a colon (:); if no one believes that the double quote will be mistaken for a single close quote, we could substitute the double close quote. My concern at the time of originating the equivalency chart was the possibility of mistaking an "umlaut" for an "accent" (e.g., confusing {o'} with {o"}). If this is not a concern for others, then it isn't be for me.

Harpy has noted that the circumflex (^) is a control character for some terminal systems, which could create a problem. A system with which she is familiar uses a plus sign (+) instead; but as she notes, this is not terribly intuitive. Would the plus sign work; would some other character work as well? (Not that I expect this to be a big hurdle for us either way; I cannot remember that many words or names in the past year which have required the use of a carat.)

In addition to the concerns Harpy discussed in her most recent LoC, other commenters have suggested that systems already in use (specifically, TeX, Latin-1 with MIME encoding, and HTML) would work for us nearly as well, are reasonably intuitive, and widely available. I admit that I am not familiar with any of these systems (I'm a word processor, not a net surfer, okay? :-), and would appreciate hearing the opinions of those who are regarding the specifics of what these systems are, how they work, and whether they can be applied by anyone in the College with whatever equipment and/or software who desires to use them. (To me, it is a requirement that any system we adopt be usable by anyone who wishes to participate; we cannot disfranchise anyone because their equipment is not of a certain type or vintage.)

CLIENT COMPLAINTS (or, Unlike the Old Song, Time is Not on "Our" Side)

As I travel and communicate with the people in our Society, one of the most common questions and complaints I hear is about how long it takes to register names and armory with the College. From the time a participant turns in submissions forms until they hear whether or not those submissions are registered, assuming that they are not returned in kingdom and that they face no unusual delays, can take anywhere from a minimum of six months through a more common average of seven to nine months, up to a full year in some areas.

While you and I may understand why it takes does so long for a submission to run all the way through the process, many people question whether it needs to take that long.

One of the things that we could do which would cut a full month off the submissions process time is to go back to a three-month commentary period. As many of you will remember, for a very long time the College used a three-month commentary period. That is, for example, Letters of Intent dated and mailed in January would be considered at the April Laurel meeting; February LoIs would be considered in May; etc. Baron Bruce changed this in the November 10, 1992 Cover Letter to a four-month commentary period because (1) his staff needed at least 90 days to prepare submissions for the meeting and (2) many in the College couldn't work with his floating deadline schedule.

Some members of the College have questioned why we need a four-month commentary period; some of our clients, the submitters, have questioned it even more. While understanding the need for a certain amount of time to do adequate research and commentary on submissions, their reasoning is generally something along the lines that "it requires doing a month's worth of commentary every month to stay caught up with the work flow anyway; what's the difference if it's three months, two months, or one month after the LoI is sent out?" (I would note further that the reasons the four-month commentary period was originally implemented do not currently apply.)

What is your opinion? Do we need a four-month period for commentary, or would three months serve us and our clients as well? (I'm personally doubtful that we could reasonably make it shorter than three months, but am willing to listen seriously to any proposals and suggestions that you may have.)


A topic had been brought up in commentary within the past year, but seems to have died off in spite of a general overall consensus that it was probably a Good ThingTM and would be beneficial to implement. I am referring to the idea of "free upgrades" for comparatively marginal or less than optimal, but registrable, names.

Regarding this proposal, I have, and have had, no objection to such a proposal, but was waiting for someone to make a solid recommendation to implement such a plan. The basic proposal was that it could be of benefit if the College would grant a free resubmission (usually within some set time limit) to anyone who had registered a name which was acceptable by SCA standards but not entirely authentic, if they wanted a more authentic name and such was recommended in the commentary and/or LoAR. If you feel that some form of this plan would be beneficial, let's reopen this discussion and get some solid proposal(s).

On a related topic, I was also going to recommend here that we reopen/continue the discussion of the "authenticity choices" proposal which would allow our clients to tell us on the forms how concerned they were with the authenticity of their submitted name, but as Palimpsest has already reopened that discussion in his most recent letter (thank you, Rouland!), I will leave it in his capable hands.


"Up the Pole Again

From Mr. M.R.W.C. Holmes

Sir: I have been astonished by the suggestion that the origin of the traditional barber's pole derives from bloodletting and bandages.

I had always understood that it was a representation of the unicorn's horn. This horn was considered a defence against poisoning, especially arsenic (hence its use in drinking vessels) and, ground to a powder, as a medicine for 'pestilential fever, bites of mad dogs, stings of scorpions, falling sickness, an the like.' Though surprisingly it does not occur in the Arms of the Barber-Chirurgions, it must surely have been part of the stock-in-trade of the better class of local practitioners?

Perhaps the Editor [Norroy and Ulster King of Arms], who has a close association with the lovely, fabulous beast, could offer an opinion?

Michael R.C.W. Holmes

Mr. Holmes is quite correct in stating the properties of an unicorn's horn but it is more appropriate to physicians than to mere surgeons. The origin of the barber's pole, supported by Brewer in his Dictionary would seems to be correct. A number of physicians have been granted unicorns or unicorn's horns.

Hon. Ed."

From The Coat of Arms, Vol. XI, No. 169, Spring 1995, p. 44

[It is to be fervently hoped that this information does not mean that the S.C.A.'s College of Arms will begin restricting the use of unicorns or unicorn's horns to medical practitioners! J]

Until next month, pray believe that I am, and remain,

Your faithful servant,

Da'ud ibn Auda

Laurel King of Arms