March 18, 1980 XIV

To: The Members of the College of Arms

From: Master Wilhelm von Schlüssel, OL, OP, OLM, QOG, Laurel King of Arms.


Enclosed herein is this month's Letter of Acceptances and Rejections. My new address is 2733 Sacramento Street, Berkeley, California 94703, (415) 540-7079, with my work phone still (415) 486-5246. I have finished moving in but the office is still somewhat disorganized. With this letter I have completed work on all the letters of intent from 1979 and before. Next month I will process the letters of intent from January.

The first draft of the updated computerized SCA Armorial and Ordinary is done and sitting on my desk. As soon as all of the known corrections are entered into it and the last tunings on the conversion to a Papworth-style format are finished copies of the second draft will be sent out as soon as I can get them. First priority will go to the Principal Heralds, then the rest of the College. Anyone who sends me a magnetic tape (as Atlantia has done) will get it back with a copy of the output file so they can print up their own copies on their own computers. I do not as yet have access to anyplace where I can get copies made in large numbers.

In recognition of his achievement in putting out the first ordinary in three years and because he will continue to do so and to perform other activities as my deputy, I am appointing Master Renfield Wanderscribe to the position of Clarion King of Arms. He also assumes the duties of Morsulus Herald, and that title is now in abeyance until needed again at some other time. Anyone having corrections for the Ordinary should send copies to him c/o Ed Rush, 10417 Johnson Ave., Cupertino, Cal. 95014, (408) 257-4288. You need not send him copies of letters of intent or comments unless they directly concern the Ordinary.

Upon due consideration of the feedback I have gotten, I have decided not to require the Principal heralds to send out copies of all emblazons. They should however send out small drawings of unusual charges or devices with difficult blazons along with the letter of intent, so that the CoA members can see what they are talking about. Everyone knows what a lion looks like, but few would know what a zax is. (It's a tool for cutting roof tile.)

With regard to name documentation, please cite the source for any translations of names so we know where to look to check them. Again, for any new charges not previously used in the SCA please cite a reference to them or even better include a photocopy of the page(s) that show the charge and establish that it is period. These photocopies need only go to me, but the letter of intent should mention them.

With regard to small details on animals, such as claws and teeth, these really shouldn't clutter up the blazon unless really necessary. They should either be of the same tincture as the animal, or else colored to stand out in contrast. The standard tincture for such if the animal is Or or argent is gules, unless the field is gules, in which case it is azure. If the animal is colored then the standard tincture for the small details is argent, unless the field is argent, in which case it is Or. Rather than clutter up the blazon it is much better to just use the space for notes to the scribe or artist on the picture sheet to detail just how to color the small details. Large details, such as a horse's mane, should be described in the blazon.

Next month I will list those members of the College of Arms who are active and who should continue to receive copies of letters. This is your last change to comment and remain on the list. Thereafter if someone wants to get on the list (other than a Principal Herald) they will have to comment first to show they can. By this I mean that they would have to obtain copies of recent letters from their Principal Herald or other CoA member and then send out comments to the College. This would demonstrate their enthusiasm. If anyone goes three months without commenting I will drop them from the list. Principal Heralds or their representatives will remain on the list, but will be prodded, and if necessary removed from office. I was very heartened by the increased number of comments in the last two months, as it makes my job easier and shows that the College is beginning to function the way it should.

I have another proposal to consider. At present when we consider a person's device we also consider the counterchange of the device, and so it is forced to avoid conflict with all other arms, devices, and badges in the SCA and the mundane world, and with the counterchange of all of these. This can make it much harder to get simple devices through. The reason for this restrictive policy is that this way a person is guaranteed his counterchange is also free of conflict so that if he wants to he can later allow his lady to register the counterchange of his device without fear that it will conflict (and vice versa). This is a nice idea, but it is almost never done. I can only recall one case of it in the last several years. This leads to the question, "Do we want to continue to do so, or shall we allow counterchanging to become a point of difference?" It would be at most one point. Please let me know what you think on this.

Another sticky point is the case of someone registering a device consisting only of a field. In regards to other arms and devices consisting only a field there is only one possible point of difference, ie the field. What about someone else who has that field with a charge on it? The person with just the field can hardly be said to be a cadet branch of the family with the field and the charge, because one doesn't show a relationship by removing the main charge. I talked this over with my assistants and we came to the following solution. If two devices in the SCA consist of only one field, then there must be two points of difference in the field. This could be one point of color and one point for type of partition used. Two changes of color would leave the outline the same and would not suffice. Thus Paly bendy azure and Or would sufficiently different from Barry bendy gules and Or, but would conflict with Paly bendy ermine and gules. A device consisting of only a field would have to be somewhat more than one point of difference away from a mundane arms that was also just a field. In this case two changes of color would suffice, but not just one. If a mundane coat of arms is Paly of six azure and Or then you could avoid conflict with Paly of six gules and argent, or with Paly of eight gules and Or, or with Paly wavy of six gules and Or. Paly wavy of six azure and Or would still conflict.

The next case is the device with just the field being considered against SCA devices with that field and a charge. In this case the rule of complete difference of charge does not apply. The absence of the single charge is one point of difference. There will thus have to also be a point of difference in the field, either in color or partition. In the case of field-only device versus mundane arms with the exact same field and one charge, I would say that the rule does apply, so that they would not conflict, so long as the one charge in the mundane arms was a central major charge. In the case of badges only one point is required in all cases.

Here's something else to consider. In the mundane world, since the fifteenth century, it has been the privilege of corporations as well as individuals to bear arms. These arms belong to the corporation as represented by the governing board of the corporation, and are displayed in ever office of the corporation. In the SCA we have already faced with the accomplished fact of kings giving Awards of Arms to groups, such as the University of Ithra in the West. We have also had the case of Royal Charters being granted, such as to Headless House. At this time all groups that are not official SCA branches or offices are required to be registered as a badge under the name of a spokesman. In the case of the a Cook's Guild or a Mercenary Band this is really not appropriate, as this treats them in the same manner as if they were the spokesman's personal household. In the SCA, official branches and offices register arms, not devices. Households register badges under the head of the household. It seems to me that the logical thing to do is to allow non-household groups to register a device under their own name, with the name and address of a spokesman on the information sheet so we can contact them. This puts us in accord with actual medieval practice. Then every member of the group would have the right to display the device of the group WHEN AND ONLY WHEN they were acting as a member of the group. Thus if a member of the Cook's Guild is giving a cooking lesson at an event in the name of the Guild, the member could rightly display on a banner the device of the Guild. If a Mercenary unit was fighting as a unit in a wary, they could all paint the device of their unit on their shields, thereby fighting for the honor of their unit. It would not be proper for a member of the unit to later use such a shield in an individual challenge match when he is fighting under his own name unless it was because his own shield broke and he was just using it for this one fight. This is of course done all the time as few can afford to own more than own personal shield.

Notice that this would cure the problem that Triton was complaining about, namely the display of non-heraldic badges as if they were devices. Since the groups would be registering devices they would have to obey all of the rules for devices, and so their banners would be properly heraldic. Then the badge category would become more of what it was intended to be, symbols of personal identification or symbols of awards or orders. Let me know what you think about this.

Coupled with this change would be the classification of flags and ensigns as devices so they would have to obey all the rules of heraldry. Each branch would have its arms, which are born by the ruling noble of the branch (or by the Seneschal if there is no ruling noble). Each branch should also have an ensign which could be displayed by all members of the branch. One easy way to do this would be to replace the arms. Eliminating the laurel wreath might lead to conflict problems. Only the arms of an SCA branch can have a laurel wreath!

Vesper and I are making plans to update the West Kingdom Heralds Handbook. One idea that came to me was to make it a Society Handbook. The sections dealing with SCA Heraldry in general would be moved to the front two-thirds. The back third would deal with the specific heraldic systems and ceremonies and texts used in a kingdom. Thus we could have a Society wide handbook with editions tailored to each kingdom. Thus the West could take the first part and add the ceremonies, scroll texts, college history, roster and organizational procedures of the West. Atenveldt could take the first part and add its own material. And so on. This way we could have a handbook used in more than one area, thus saving on printing costs and making it easier for a herald to pick up on what's happening. When he moves to another kingdom. I would like to see each kingdom have a handbook of some sort so their heralds can buy a copy. It has really made a difference out here. I know that the Middle and Atlantia have their own handbooks, but are any of the rest of you interested? You would have to furnish the section for your kingdom.

Pray believe, my Lords and my Ladies, that I remain,

Your Servant,

Wilhelm von Schlüssel, OL, OP, OLM, QOG

Laurel King of Arms