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The Heretical Herald Volume 1 Issue 1 February 11, AS XXXVIII being 2004 AD

Hark the Heretical Herald.

Setting the tone for The Heretical Herald this Premier Issue includes a number of articles. The first "What's Good Contrast?" is the first of a number of simple educational pieces aimed at the novice to Heraldry. "But I Really Wanted Sanguine!" is an article on a novel approach to the problem of a client who really wants to use a colour or pattern that just is not allowed in SCA Heraldry. The solution is fairly straightforward and does not require any special permission, research, or documentation. "Cant Do That!" announces the start of a contest challenging readers to find interesting "canting arms" in the An Tir Roll of Arms and other Rolls of Arms both SCA and Real World. "Scentual Submissions" is an short article on choices when selecting just what to use when colouring in your heraldic submission form.

For now the staff of The Heretical Herald is only one. That means that only one person is writing all the copy that is coming out as well as being responsible for editing, publishing, promoting, bookkeeping, and whatever else might come up. I hope in time that this might change though not too quickly. I would like to at least stay in editorial control for some time. The state of affairs of the rather limited staff however is the reason behind why The Heretical Herald might be a bit intermittent in publication to start off with. I hope that this will eventually change.

I'm not sure how much fresh material is available to keep this publication going in the long term, but I am sure there is enough for a number of issues. In any case, I am planning on keeping an archive of back issues available and perhaps updated and improved as warranted.

Please let me know if you would like to reprint any articles or items you find in this publication in your own publication or another. I'll most likely give permission, but I would like to be asked.

Thank you for taking the time for reading this and I hope you find it useful and entertaining.

- H. Herald editor

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In this Issue:

Grane the Golden of Hippogriff Tower

Cant Do That!

In future this area will contain a heraldic device from either the An Tir Roll of Arms or other Roll that has an interesting "cant" or heraldic play on words. The only prize for this contest is to see your name here as providing the submission appear in this column.

Until there are submissions I'll be entering some that I find myself starting with this issue.

The image of the device and information is taken from the "An Tir: Role of Arms" which can be found at: http://badger.cx/heraldry/roll/

A special note is that the description of the charge, "as in a garb" was coined for this device and accepted by the Laurel College of Arms. It can be found in the Combined Precedents of the SCA: PRECEDENTS OF THE S.C.A. COLLEGE OF ARMS, VOLUME II - The Early Years http://www.sca.org/heraldry/laurel/precedents/early/earlydayscombined.html#garb

[Sable, three stalks of wheat as in a garb, Or.] This is creative heraldry. The centre stalk is palewise; the two remaining follow roughly what would be the outlines of a pair of flaunches. (HB, 20 Sep 71 [47], p. 5)

This is one of the oldest devices by registration date in the An Tir: Roll of Arms.

Heraldic Device of Grane the Golden of Hippogriff Tower
Entry from An Tir: Roll of Arms:

Grane the Golden of Hippogriff Tower
Blazon: Sable, three stalks of wheat as in a garb, Or.
- Member of the Order of the Laurel
Registered: September, 1971
Contributed By: Frederic Badger

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What's Good Contrast?

Good Contrast is a term used in SCA Heraldry for ensuring that a heraldic design is recognisable at a distance and distinct from others. At its most basic it refers to what is commonly known as the "Rule of Tincture". Simply stated it says "You may not place a colour on a colour or a metal on a metal." Simply stated this way it might seem very arbitrary and not make much sense. But there is reason behind it, just as there is reason behind what might even seem more arbitrary, the limited palette the heraldic designer is restricted to.

Traditional Medieval Heraldry restricts itself to 7 basic tinctures plus 2 stains. Other colours come up rarely and even then more in post Medieval Heraldry. The 2 stains are very rare and we won't be getting into the discussion on their exclusion in this article, they are called "tenné" and "sanguine". ("tenné" is a colour orange or a tan brown. "sanguine" is a colour deep blood red, sometimes a colour somewhat between purpure and gules.)

The 7 basic tinctures are divided into 2 metals and 5 colours. The 2 metals are gold and silver, the 5 colours being red, blue, green, purple, and black. Normally here the furs would be mentioned. I will get to them later. Gold and silver are more often on paper represented using yellow for gold and white for silver. The proper heraldic terms for the colours are:

Black - sable; red - gules; green - vert; blue - azure; purple - purpure; Gold - Or; and silver - argent.

The furs are also considered tinctures, but for the purpose of contrast essentially they are considered as if they were made of the basic 7 tinctures. Ermine is the fur that is white with black spots. This once represented the white winter coat of the ermine with the black tip of the tail showing. For the purpose of Contrast or the "Rule of Tincture" you would consider ermine to be the colour of the background, which would be considered as argent, a metal. Counter ermine, which is a black background with white spots, would be considered as sable, a colour. Vair and the other furs of similar nature consist of equal parts of a metal and a colour and are considered to be a neutral tincture which is a third category after the metals and the colours.

The colours of this palette are restricted in a sense further in that not all blues are really acceptable. A herald should not use a very dark blue or a very light blue, not a very grey blue nor a very bright blue. The blue should be fairly middle of the road and very obviously blue and not to be mistaken for purple, green, black or off white. The same goes for the other colours. While Or can be either yellow or gold, the yellow should not be orangey and the gold should be metallic gold. On the other hand, argent is rarely illustrated with metallic silver because in period silver and silver inks tended to tarnish very quickly and no longer be metallic silver so most often argent was always white. Argent should never be grey. (It is heraldic convention that only the first letter in a blazon is capitalized unless it is a proper name or the tincture "Or". All the other tinctures are not capitalized.)

The "Rule of Tincture" if followed ensures that heraldic designs have good contrast. All of the "colours" will show up well on all of the "metals" and all of the "metals" will show up well on all of the "colours". If you place a metal on a metal, they will at any distance appear indistinct and it will begin to be difficult to tell a lion from a bear from a deer. Possibly some combinations of colours on colours if given just the right shade might be okay, but the "Rule of Tincture" takes the guesswork out of it.

There are what are called items of "neutral tincture". The fur "vair" has already been mentioned. Vair consists of a pattern of azure and argent bell shaped swatches in equal amounts. This makes anything in a heraldic design with the tincture of vair to be neither metal nor colour. It is considered neutral. What this means is that you may place either a colour or a metal on it with some restrictions. What you place on it may not include a tincture that is included in the neutral tincture. In the example of vair, since vair is made up of azure and argent you may not place a charge on a vair background that is azure or argent. Another restriction is with very delicate or complicated charges. If a charge would disappear on a neutral field like a needle in a haystack then it likely won't pass. Also if the details which make a charge distinctive become confusing or indistinct on a neutral field then it is likely it won't pass. After all a leopard in a tree can be hard to see.

There are actually some other colours you will rarely come across. Often they come under the broad category "proper". "Proper" stands for the object in its natural colour. For a zebra it is black and white striping, for a hare it is brown, for a tree it is green leaves and a brown trunk, for a rose it is red petals, yellow seeds, and green barbs. You would have to look into the SCA Glossary or Heraldic Terms to determine if there is a "proper" tincture for an item, or look for it in the heraldic precedents of the past Laurel Heralds. One of the more common proper tinctures is "brown" a common colour found in nature. Note that it is most common in medieval period heraldry to use the standard 7 heraldic tinctures rather than realistic colours. Lions are as often blue as any natural colour.

Even things which are tinctured proper are defined as to whether they are metal, colour or neutral tincture. A zebra proper being an even mix of white and black is considered a neutral tincture. A natural dolphin proper is considered to be grey and that is considered to be a metal. A heraldic dolphin is considered to be green with red fins and so is considered to be a colour. A hare proper is brown and brown is considered a colour. The rule of thumb is that if the item is light in colour it is considered a metal and if dark it is considered a metal. Items of leather or wood when tinctured proper are considered to be brown and thus colour. Human skin when Caucasian is considered to be light and so a metal. A mermaid proper is considered to have Caucasian skin, a green fish's tail, and gold hair and is considered to be half metal and half colour and thus neutral in tincture. Of course since the hair has both argent and Or you'd still have to place it on a colour background and the colour could not be vert.

One bit of complication comes with regards to divisions of the field and ordinaries. It is perfectly okay to divide a shield in half and have each half in a different tincture regardless of metal or colour. The division is large enough and bold enough to handle it. It is also acceptable to use the two field divisions that divide the field into 4 sections and not worry about metal and colour. So dividing per saltire or per cross (or quarterly) it is okay to use two metals or two colours) But if you divide the field into three one needs to be different, either two metals and a colour; or two colours and a metal. If you divide the field into more sections then they must alternate colour and metal as in dividing the field in gyronny or checky or barry or with other repeated backgrounds.

What might seem contradictory are the charges called ordinaries, in particular the "chief" "fess" "pale" and "base". Perhaps the other ordinaries, but less so and I won't go into them in this article. A shield with a chief on it looks like it has had the field divided into two, almost like the division "per fess". It makes you think you could have a coloured chief with a coloured field or a metal chief on a metal field. But the chief is a charge an on the field just as if it were a lion on the field. The same goes for the fess, pale and base. They look like simple divisions of the field but are considered to be charge placed on the field.

The rules for good contrast or the Rule of Tincture is there to ensure good contrast. A red horse on a purple background not only would make your eyes hurt, would be hard to figure out what it was at any distance. A gold star on a white background would give problems as well. But any of the colours on any of the metals, or any of the metals on any of the colours would give good contrast and be identifiable. Any intelligently used neutral tincture should be identifiable as well.

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But I Really Wanted Sanguine!

The other day as I was strolling I noticed an old Ford pickup on a flatbed truck going down the road. What caught my eye was that it was a maroon or dark wine red colour that reminded me of my Maternal Grandfather's truck which was that colour. For that matter at least one and maybe more of his other vehicles were that same hue. Mom said that his favourite colour was red and started to wonder if perhaps this dark rich red was his actual favourite shade of red. It has actually become one of mine as well and has found its way into my mundane wardrobe.

Another favourite colour of mine is dark green. It also happens to be my Father's favourite colour. I'm not sure if that is a coincidence or not. But while strolling I wondered. The colours of my device are in part dependent on my favourite colours. Now at the time I had not realized my actual interest in maroon, and blue is another favourite of mine so my device ended up with a field that incorporates both vert and azure.

But I thought what if I had really also wanted to incorporate maroon. Gules just is not the same. Sanguine is closer, but though known in later heraldry and even English Heraldry, it is considered a stain along with tenne. The SCA College of Arms does not allow sanguine as a tincture on a device unless of course you can find an allowable charge that's proper tincture is sanguine and can back that up with documentation acceptable at Laurel level.

What else can a person do? I considered options. There actually are some that perhaps some people would not consider to be legitimate, but in truth are. But perhaps that is what might brand me the Heretical Herald. I'll talk about other methods in other articles, but for this one I'll stick with this one perhaps sneaky one.

First off, as per regulation you must have a registered name in the SCA College of Arms Registry before you can register any armoury. You may submit your name at the same time as your heraldic device submission. Now in order to have a heraldic design with a sanguine background you will have to register a badge. I believe that first you must register a device before you can register a badge, but I firmly believe that you should have a totally proper heraldic device in any case that you can use for your Arms if you are made an Armiger. Now about that sanguine background, note that I did not say "sanguine field", it is a subtle and important distinction and perhaps at this point at least some of the more creative heralds will begin to see what I am getting at.

Your next step is to design a fieldless badge using your charge of choice. I would suggest that you restrain yourself and restrict yourself to argent and Or for reason of sufficient contrast. You also will be under all the constraints that a heraldic badge comes with. This includes the fact that all parts of the badge must be attached to all the others. On the other hand fieldless badges are often less likely to conflict with other heraldic devices because all fieldless devices get 1CD from any other fieldless device or device with a field automatically.

Once you have designed your fieldless badge and run it past the heralds to ensure it is well designed and doesn't conflict with anyone else's heraldic design submit it to be registered. Then just wait for it to pass. Once it has passed, you're there.

What about the sanguine background, you might ask? It is simple. A fieldless badge can be displayed on any medium of any colour. So you may place your badge on any colour. So feel free to paint your shield sanguine and plunk your badge right down in the middle of it. Et voila!

Now I suggest that you practice good heraldry and make sure you have good contrast between whatever background you do have and your badge. If needed put a buffer of contrasting colour between the badge and the background. Either that or make sure your badge is designed in an appropriate tincture for the background colour you wish in the first place. Also make sure that your badge is Big, Bold, and Butch in relation to the object you place it on. In Heraldry identification is important and you want your design to STAND out.

You might have noted that I used sanguine as an example. But nobody has said you could have used tenne, orange, brass, brown, black watch plaid, herring bone tweed, paisley, or whatever you wish. I would ask that when you do so you keep with the spirit of the SCA and keep the background as something that suits the SCA and ensure that any pattern or colour you use is something that might be found in period at least for your persona. I also ask that you check to make sure that you are not placing yourself in conflict with anyone else by choosing an inappropriate background. This might take a bit more work on your part. But isn't it worth it? I do hope that you respect these wishes if not simply because it is in the spirit of the SCA but as a favour to me for sharing this idea.

Powerful tools can be dangerous so use them with care!

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Scentual Submissions

Ihave discovered that I am a person who loves to find mail in their mailbox. For me it is like a small birthday or Christmas every time, but I've found of late I don't get much other than bills and junk mail and not even interesting junk mail like catalogues from gift companies. I have heard that the Herald in charge of Submissions gets many surprises in their mailbox through the function of their office. Some of these surprises are not those of seeing the interesting and creative heraldic submissions though. I have heard tale of one "surprise" a recent An Tir Lions Blood Herald found waiting in ambush.

Now I cannot do the full justice the Herald in question could, but they discovered an interesting "smell" coming from their mail. Upon going through it they discovered one particular submission package scent to them. The combination of odours to it was overwhelming, a combination of many smells. The submitter most apparently to all but the nose deaf had used scented markers to colour in the coloured copies of their device submission. If I recall correctly said Lions Blood tacked the submission to the inside roof of their porch for over a week to somewhat reduce the reek. I do not recall the actual combination of smells, but indeed I hear it was overwhelming even if individually the scents were pleasurable.

The choice of media to use for colouring in the shield on your submission form is very important. It has to be remembered that your submission form is not a "trial run". It is the copy that will be brought to the people who decide if your submission will pass or not. If it does pass the actual submission forms will be put on file for reference in future. This is important to realise for not all inks and pencils and paints are created equal. Some are more colourfast than others. Some have even greater problems. (It also means that you should take some care with your artwork, but that is the meat for a future article.)

Things that are important to keep in mind are that whatever you use must have a rich bold colour that will not be mistaken for any other colour and definitely is the heraldic colour in question. Of course this is as much choice of hue and tint as medium used. The blue you choose should be a good middle of the road blue. Not a dark navy blue, nor a light pastel one. It is also important that the blue not be edging toward green or purple. It should be bold, but not fluorescent. There can be some latitude of course. It should also cover well. The green should follow similar criteria, as should the red. It is important that the purple not be too red or too blue. Perhaps a harder colour to judge than the others.

You should not be tempted to use the metallic options for argent and Or on your submissions forms. While it might look spiffy when done, most if not all the metallic inks change substantially over time to things very different. Some might in short order be left looking grey, black, brown, or even pink! For argent use white and not grey. For Or use yellow and not orange. Using grey or orange can result in your submission being returned to you, which would substantially delay your submission. Of course for charges that blazoned "proper" are actually grey or orange or brown, you may use that appropriate colour.

In this day and age of the computer and a colour printer in so very many households you might think a colour printer a good device to print out your device with. Unfortunately the colour inks used in inkjet colour printers are not very colourfast, even ones considered "archival" in quality. The colours can and do change in what can seem to be a remarkably short time. What might start out as black might end up pink; a red, orange; purple, red; and who knows what. In part that is just because the ink is unstable. Inkjet ink is also water-soluble and even high humidity can affect it causing it to run. This might not only effect your own submission but others that are adjacent to it in a filing cabinet.

BTW a hint, if you wish to take advantage of your inkjet printer to print out the black and white forms it is advisable to print them out and then bring them to a copier shop and photocopy them. Then use the photocopies which won't be using water soluble ink.

Remember that submissions do not travel in climate controlled courier pouches carried by diplomats, they are subject to the vagaries of the postal service and unheated trucks and aeroplane holds. This can cause things like condensation to form in unexpected ways and great changes in temperature shifts during transit. Your submission from the time you mail it off in perhaps winter might pass through -40 F weather and before it has even gotten to Laurel have sat in a filing cabinet at +100 F! That's a huge temperature difference!

As well as the colour stability there are mechanical type issues. Some materials simply will do things like flake off. Some paints might seem perfect otherwise but would end up cracking and ending up eventually in small piles of flakes at the bottom of some file folder. Others don't cover well like pencil crayon and just don't give good dense coverage.

Crayon has lead to some horror stories likened to the scented markers. Consider a stack of mail on a hot summer day. In that stack are a number of submissions and in one the device has been nicely coloured in wax crayons. In the torrid weather the wax, like any good well behaved wax does what wax does in heat. It melts, and melted wax does what it has done even in period, it wicks. I wicks right through the porous paper soaking it through. Of course the wax doesn't know the difference between one envelope and another and it happily wicks its way through other submissions it has been stacked. When cooled there is one solid waxy chunk where once there were a number of nice heraldic submissions. It has happened. I'd imagine more than just the once. In the one case I heard of the person who used the crayon was horrified to hear of what happened and very apologetic. I also heard that the combination wax and paper really burnt well in a fire at a later date.

The best thing to do is to talk to the Heralds about it and the best Herald to talk with is the submissions Herald and in An Tir that is the Lions Blood Herald. I have gathered that what is best in the end are marking pens and the best out of them are the basic "Crayola" ones. There are probably others as good, but Crayola are ones you are most likely to be able to find by name. But don't use the Crayola fluorescent ones or other Crayola specialty ones like Crayola the scented markers!

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The Heretical Herald is an independent Publication not associated with the SCA Inc.
or any College of Arms or College of Heraldry either in the SCA or elsewhere.
It will be published on an irregular basis as material warrants.
-H. Herald editor

-© 2004 by H Herald.
Creators of original content included in
The Heretical Herald retain copyright.