A Guide to the Submissions Process

A Guide to the Heraldic Submissions Process

by Dmitrii Volkovich, Pale Herald

©1996, 1997 John Polzinetti (Dmitrii Volkovich)

This article is not intended to be a description of how to send in a submission, but to describe what happens to submissions, and why the process takes the amount of time it does. It was written specifically for the submissions process as it works in the Middle Kingdom, but I have tried to make it as generic as possible.

It currently takes between 5-9 months (depending on exactly how your Kingdom handles the submissions, and some timing factors) between the time you give your submission to your local herald, and the time the Laurel Sovereign of Arms registers it. (Assuming that it doesn't get returned, or that there isn't some other procedural problem with the submission -- Considering that well over half of all submissions get registered the first time through, we're going to look at that process).

Here are the steps the submission goes through:

1. You give the submission to your local herald. In many Kingdoms, people can send their submissions directly to a Kingdom Herald to be processed, but most people work with their group's herald first. The local officer can help out by making sure that there are enough copies, that the check is made out for the right amount, and things like that. Many local officers can also give advice about the design, or do some preliminary conflict checking. Once the local officer is done with the submission, it will be mailed to the appropriate Kingdom officer for further processing.

(Optional step - Only for Kingdoms with an internal submissions process) The internal submissions herald receives the submission, and after getting a month's worth of submissions he (or she) goes through them (to make sure there are enough copies of forms, the right amount of money, etc.) and writes up an "internal letter of intent" which is sent to commenting heralds in the kingdom. This letter will list each submission, and for each will tell what documentation was provided for the name, shows a black-and-white copy of the device and gives its description (blazon).

(Optional step - Only for Kingdoms with an internal submissions process) The kingdom commenters are generally given about one month to comment (which involves conflict-checking as well as commenting on the style of names and devices), and then mail their comments to the external submissions herald.

2. The external submissions herald reads the commentary, returns the submissions that have problems and need more work, and and sends the rest to the Laurel Sovereign of Arms and the College of Arms in an "external letter of intent" (similar to the one done internal submissions heralds, above).

3. The submissions are commented on by the College of Arms (senior heralds from each of the Kingdoms) for 3 months (they get longer because they are looking at submission from all Kingdoms, they also do the high-level research into names and period style), and Laurel holds a meeting every month to decide what gets accepted and what gets returned.

(Note: There is still one more step: the letter from your Kingdom informing you of the results of your submission. However, the specifics on this vary from Kingdom to Kingdom; assume an extra 1-3 months for your Kingdom to notify you, depending on how they handle this).

I've pointed out this timetable in the past, and sometimes someone will identify two or three stages where, instead of handling something for a month, it could be one or two weeks. This is the point when I have to remind them that all these heralds are members of the SCA, like everybody else. They're volunteers here to have a good time, not paid professionals working on the submissions. They have real jobs and families that take time. They have SCA interests that also take time. While it is in theory possible for certain functions to be performed in less time, requiring it, month after month after month, is a sure way to burn out every volunteer the SCA can get.

By way of comparison, England's College of Arms is run by people who get paid for their work and don't have to consider names or questions of style, but still the SCA handles about as much armory in a month as they do in a year. We do it in half the time, and it costs our submitters less than one-hundredth as much.

Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of what happens to your submission once you give it to your herald. Remember that, although it may take several months to register, this will probably be the name and device you use for the rest of your time in the SCA.