State-Level Heraldic Authorities

 
zebulon
 
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zebulon
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17 September 2014 18:08
 

liongam;102745 wrote:

Joe and other correspondents are correct in their thesis that any nation that has no competent heraldry authority whether royal or state,  its citizens may assume arms at will, such arms will be assumed by prescription as was anciently done before the development of royal or state control.  In all probability, such assumed arms in the USA are in this context analogous to the ‘burgher arms’ as found on Continental Europe.


I don’t deny, and have never doubted, any of that is true.

 

And, when you figure out how to add an asterisk with that explanation into the blazon of assumed American arms, I will happily drop my request for a sanctioning body for arms in the U.S.

 

Maybe ... A mullet of five points adjacent to which the inscription, "any nation that has no competent heraldry authority whether royal or state,  its citizens may assume arms at will, such arms will be assumed by prescription as was anciently done before the development of royal or state control; these arms are assumed in that spirit."

 
Joseph McMillan
 
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Joseph McMillan
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17 September 2014 19:26
 

zebulon;102755 wrote:

And, when you figure out how to add an asterisk with that explanation into the blazon of assumed American arms, I will happily drop my request for a sanctioning body for arms in the U.S.


Why should it be in the blazon?  Or anywhere else?  What kind of apologetic language are you going to put in the blazons of the arms of American citizens who don’t seem to get that we’re not under the authority of foreign officials, and therefore delude themselves into thinking that arms granted by foreign officials are better than the ones they can contrive for themselves?

 
zebulon
 
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zebulon
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17 September 2014 21:26
 

Joseph McMillan;102758 wrote:

Why should it be in the blazon?  Or anywhere else?  What kind of apologetic language are you going to put in the blazons of the arms of American citizens who don’t seem to get that we’re not under the authority of foreign officials, and therefore delude themselves into thinking that arms granted by foreign officials are better than the ones they can contrive for themselves?


As I’ve said in my last 20 posts, because the history of assumed arms is not a history 99.999% of the U.S. public knows/understands/cares about, or will ever know/understand/care about.

 

Therefore, we either (a) need a sanctioning body, (b) need to breathlessly communicate the last 1,000 years of heraldic history every time arms are displayed, or, (c) need to accept that the vast swath of the population will view assumed arms as silly and illegitimate despite their historic legitimacy [please everyone, no more stories about the middle ages - I have never questioned the actual legitimacy of assumed arms, only the perceptual legitimacy] and simply not care what others think.

 

Those are the three options. There are no others. I support "A," it sounds like many here support "C."

 
Jeffrey Boyd Garrison
 
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Jeffrey Boyd Garrison
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17 September 2014 22:18
 

D) Through common and frequent usage and display, our assumed arms are viewed with interest and curiosity to the point of cultural saturation. A critical mass is reached relatively effortlessly where most people take note and themselves become educated and knowledgeable rather than suffer themselves to remain ignorant. wink

This requires no wearisome historical lectures to the uninterested or purposely ignorant. This requires no sanctioning body ...and it doesn’t require defeatist acceptance the unlikely future where armorial display is relegated to a hell in which the worst of passing fashions are condemned.

 
Joseph McMillan
 
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17 September 2014 22:35
 

zebulon;102759 wrote:

As I’ve said in my last 20 posts, because the history of assumed arms is not a history 99.999% of the U.S. public knows/understands/cares about, or will ever know/understand/care about.

 


Get real. Some percentage greater than 0.001% have mass-produced coats of arms ostensibly of their name hanging in their houses. They don’t care about granted, assumed or anything else and never will.

 

Some other percentage has read elementary, introductory English heraldic textbooks and believes them uncritically that only granted coats of arms are real.

 

And then there are people who take the study of the subject seriously. Perhaps—probably—the smallest of them all. Perhaps some of them believe that heraldry can be made massively popular. I don’t. And I don’t care. You say you don’t care, either, yet your entire position is founded on anxiety about what the neighbors will think.

 

An overwhelming majority of the American public probably doesn’t know what a sonnet is; a larger majority wouldn’t recognize what’s meant by sonata form in music. I guess symphony orchestras should just play the popular themes and cut out all the boring elaboration and recapitulation—after all, the mass audience will never understand.

 

Of all the reasons put forth why the United States needs a heraldic authority, the idea that it would somehow address the misgivings of the great American public about assumed coats of arms is without a doubt the silliest yet.

 
zebulon
 
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zebulon
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18 September 2014 03:54
 

Jeffrey Boyd Garrison;102760 wrote:

D) Through common and frequent usage and display, our assumed arms are viewed with interest and curiosity to the point of cultural saturation. A critical mass is reached relatively effortlessly where most people take note and themselves become educated and knowledgeable rather than suffer themselves to remain ignorant. wink


IMO critical mass doesn’t usually describe a process that takes 238 years to go from 0 to 1 on a 1-10 scale of awareness. But, I suppose we all have different timelines.

 

At this rate, assumed arms will be widely accepted in American society by the year 4212. So I guess we can look forward to that.


Joseph McMillan;102761 wrote:

Get real. Some percentage greater than 0.001% have mass-produced coats of arms ostensibly of their name hanging in their houses. They don’t care about granted, assumed or anything else and never will.

Some other percentage has read elementary, introductory English heraldic textbooks and believes them uncritically that only granted coats of arms are real.

 

And then there are people who take the study of the subject seriously. Perhaps—probably—the smallest of them all. Perhaps some of them believe that heraldry can be made massively popular. I don’t. And I don’t care. You say you don’t care, either, yet your entire position is founded on anxiety about what the neighbors will think.

 

An overwhelming majority of the American public probably doesn’t know what a sonnet is; a larger majority wouldn’t recognize what’s meant by sonata form in music. I guess symphony orchestras should just play the popular themes and cut out all the boring elaboration and recapitulation—after all, the mass audience will never understand.

 

Of all the reasons put forth why the United States needs a heraldic authority, the idea that it would somehow address the misgivings of the great American public about assumed coats of arms is without a doubt the silliest yet.


If someone saw an individual’s coat of arms and asked where they got it from, what would be more likely to engender interest and what would be more likely to engender ridicule?

 

Answer A: It was granted to my [insert paternal relative] by the King of England and matriculated to me by the heraldic law of succession.

Answer B: I made it with a $45 computer program I bought online.

 

It is anti-republican that some segment of our society enjoys a greater perception of legitimacy to an identifying mark than other segments. The fact that this is true is observed by note that non-arminger prominent Americans either don’t display any arms at all or seek a grant from a foreign sovereign (e.g. Reagan, Powell, etc.) rather than simply assuming arms.  No prominent (or non-prominent) American should feel the need to go galumphing to London or Edinburgh for arms for fear of public ridicule otherwise. This can occur by creating an indigenous sanctioning body.

 
Michael F. McCartney
 
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Michael F. McCartney
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18 September 2014 04:32
 

IIRC when our society was first formed, the stated purposes or goals included pursuing the possibility of some sort of government registry for personal/family arms.  Over time most of the active membership & registered forum users have had second thoughts on that point

Some because as we have learned more about the history of heraldry, both here and in most other places outside of the UK, we’ve come to realize that we don’t really need governmental OK - or to pay government fees - to design, assume & use arms in the American context.

 

Some because, while it might be nice to have some legal protection againt future infringement, we frankly doubt that our federal or state governments have, or would bother learning, enough about heraldry to do a half-way adequate job.

 

And nearly all have concluded, with varying degrees of reluctance and regret, that there is not & likely never will be, the political will to establish and fund such an operation.

 

We can of course copyright a particular artistic rendition of our arms, but that clearly isn’t the same as a governmental grant or certification of arms in the UK sense - though it does create a legal record that you used those arms at a particular date, which may be useful in the future.

 

And in some states, a family can ofrganize itself as a nonprofit unincorporated association and register its arms as the badge of that association,with potentially some level of legal protection, at least in theory - but these registration procedures do not include any heraldic advice or assistance, beyond perhaps checking for duplication of any previouslr registered insignia in that state; and most states require reregistration (and fees) every "x" years.

 

Others may of course have other reasons instead of or in addition to the above, or may still hold on to the dream…

 
liongam
 
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liongam
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18 September 2014 05:21
 

Further to the present correspondence.  Again, I do not think there is any reason to get ‘het up’ about the argument of ‘official against assumed’.  As Joe rightly states there is no need to flag up that arms are assumed, arms are arms whether granted by royal or state agency or by mere assumption.  Whether you need to petition for a grant, matriculation or confirmation of arms or merely assume arms is all a matter of the jurisdiction of where you are a citizen or are domiciled.  It is a case of ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’ - you follow local custom.

It would also be a false premise to assume that just because the citizens of the nations of the British Isles have three heraldic authorities in their midst that we are individually and collectively up to speed on matters heraldic.  This is not the case.  The man or woman in the street very often will have no clue whatsoever and the lack of heraldic knowledge amongst those who have anciently borne arms is no better.  As the Honorary Secretary of both The Heraldry Society and The Society of Heraldry Arts I can attest how true this is!

 

John

 
Joseph McMillan
 
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18 September 2014 08:24
 

zebulon;102764 wrote:

It is anti-republican that some segment of our society enjoys a greater perception of legitimacy to an identifying mark than other segments. The fact that this is true is observed by note that non-arminger prominent Americans either don’t display any arms at all or seek a grant from a foreign sovereign (e.g. Reagan, Powell, etc.) rather than simply assuming arms.


For your information, Ronald Reagan’s arms were assumed, not granted, as you could easily have found out on our website:  http://www.americanheraldry.org/pages/index.php?n=President.Reagan

 

I don’t suppose that you will let this fact get in the way of your "perceptions" and "narratives" any more than you have allowed any other facts to do.  But I do find it fascinating that, not knowing much about a subject, you have the chutzpah to prescribe a national system for organizing it.

 
zebulon
 
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zebulon
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18 September 2014 12:16
 

Joseph McMillan;102767 wrote:

For your information, Ronald Reagan’s arms were assumed, not granted, as you could easily have found out on our website:  http://www.americanheraldry.org/pages/index.php?n=President.Reagan


Obviously, for purposes of brevity, I was using "granted" in that sense as a catchall for a process of officializing, which is absolutely consistent with the language of my previous posts and with my description of Powell’s acquisition of arms. Jumping on a linguistic miscue - that was obviously correct in the way it was intended - to spring a "gotcha!" moment comes across as a rather transparent effort to generate a unanimous hum in the echo chamber as a way of self-legitimization.

 

As per the website, Reagan went abroad to register his arms with a state that has a sovereign heraldic authority; though they were not granted they were subject to an officializing act. Did he do it because he had $700 to get rid of in a madcap Brewster’s Millions kind-of plotline? Unlikely. Did he do it because he was legitimately concerned about a sheep farmer in the Balearics expropriating his arms, but wasn’t concerned about anything similar happening anywhere else? Probably not.


Joseph McMillan;102767 wrote:

I don’t suppose that you will let this fact get in the way of your "perceptions" and "narratives" any more than you have allowed any other facts to do.


I’d say we probably agree on that point; I very likely won’t let it get in the way at all.

 
zebulon
 
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zebulon
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18 September 2014 12:39
 

Michael F. McCartney;102765 wrote:

IIRC when our society was first formed, the stated purposes or goals included pursuing the possibility of some sort of government registry for personal/family arms.  Over time most of the active membership & registered forum users have had second thoughts on that point


You outline some properly sober and sound reasons as to why there have been second thoughts about a sanctioning authority.

 

I would add to that list, but - as others have observed in rather déclassé fashion - I am not an expert in the heraldic arts. My professional background is social psychology so I approach it from that perspective. And my untested hypothesis is that the penultimate reason for the erosion of support for a sanctioning authority is "impatience." Heraldry is fun and having a coat of arms looks cool and we all want to have one hanging on our wall and embroidered on our golf bag and we want it right now! In some sense, American Heraldry could be described as a cross between medieval tradition and a Nike ad campaign. Just do it!

 
Joseph McMillan
 
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18 September 2014 15:51
 

zebulon;102770 wrote:

As per the website, Reagan went abroad to register his arms with a state that has a sovereign heraldic authority; though they were not granted they were subject to an officializing act. Did he do it because he had $700 to get rid of in a madcap Brewster’s Millions kind-of plotline? Unlikely. Did he do it because he was legitimately concerned about a sheep farmer in the Balearics expropriating his arms, but wasn’t concerned about anything similar happening anywhere else?


As Adolf Karlovsky certainly knew, the value of a certificate from the Spanish cronista (not, by the way, a sovereign heraldic authority, but a private citizen licensed to provide a service under state supervision) lay only in putting the arms on public record, as did recording them with the cantonal archives of Solothurn. Whether Reagan knew it or not, his adviser (a member of the Academie Internationale d’Heraldique) would have known full well that neither of these affected the validity of the arms within the United States.

 

In neither Spain nor Switzerland does a certification or registration protect the arms from usurpation by shepherds, whether Balearic or Alpine, or by anyone else. By its own language, a Spanish cronista’s certification only guarantees that you have a right to the arms and states that no other person can block you from using them.

 

Reagan’s arms were assumed.  Powell’s were granted.  This is not a semantic distinction.

 
zebulon
 
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zebulon
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18 September 2014 22:16
 

Joseph McMillan;102775 wrote:

As Adolf Karlovsky certainly knew, the value of a certificate from the Spanish cronista (not, by the way, a sovereign heraldic authority, but a private citizen licensed to provide a service under state supervision) lay only in putting the arms on public record, as did recording them with the cantonal archives of Solothurn. Whether Reagan knew it or not, his adviser (a member of the Academie Internationale d’Heraldique) would have known full well that neither of these affected the validity of the arms within the United States.

In neither Spain nor Switzerland does a certification or registration protect the arms from usurpation by shepherds, whether Balearic or Alpine, or by anyone else. By its own language, a Spanish cronista’s certification only guarantees that you have a right to the arms and states that no other person can block you from using them.

 

Reagan’s arms were assumed.  Powell’s were granted.  This is not a semantic distinction.


Nor have I claimed it was; only that I misspoke and should have said "officializing" rather than "granting."

 

As I understand it, a cronista is - or was - acting under a commission from the Council of State; as such, he is therefore a ministerial officer and his written certificates are public documents as defined by the Hague Convention of 1961. Anyone can print a birth announcement in a newspaper, even a fictitious one. A birth certificate, however, is an official document, even though it is signed by persons other than government employees (usually medical doctors). I would say that is an apt analogy to registering with the U.S. Heraldic Register versus registering with a cronista de armas. I’m 99.9% certain you will disagree with passion bordering on venom and, ultimately, this doesn’t even matter. These nuances are all distractions, simply the playground of those absolutely determined to self-legitimize (not that dissimilar, as previously observed, from self-styled orders). You can continue to point and yell "gotcha!" or you can take a more holistic and rational view and reflect on whether there was a reason Reagan registered his arms in Spain, or if there was absolutely no reason at all.

 

I’ve said repeatedly I don’t care about the legality of arms in Narnia in 987, only about perception in 2014, so I feel tired and bored continually being sidelined down this road by those absolutely determined to travel it.

 

At the end of the day, this is my litmus test: if I were attending a garden party at Sandringham (or, frankly, even [maybe more so] the Debutante Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria) would I feel confident and comfortable wearing a tie pin with my coat of arms or would I be somewhat sheepish and hope no one asked me about it? I suspect the answer may differ with whom you ask. And that’s fine.

 
Michael F. McCartney
 
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19 September 2014 03:49
 

Minor correction re: Secretary Powell’s arms -IIRC he didn’t initiate the process, it was a group of his friends (though I assume at some point he likely had to sign the petition - had he declined to do so he would have in effect snubbed those friends).

Also, the Scottish grant was only possible because his father or grandfather, I don’t remember which, was a Commonwealth citizen - Jamaica IIRC? - and the grant was actually to that ancestor, living or deceased, which Powell then inherited (the usual Scottish practice for foreign petitioners whose ancestors were Crown subjects - nothing unusual in Powell’s case.)

 

Don’t know how relevant to the current dispute, but may be of interest.  And if I have any of the details wrong, corrections are most welcome; at three score and ten, a not infrequent concern smile

 
Joseph McMillan
 
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19 September 2014 08:46
 

As far as I know, none of us with arms we have adopted unilaterally are embarrassed to display them appropriately, i.e., in the same ways anyone would display granted arms in a country where arms are granted.

Those who want arms and would find unilateral adoption insufficient have other alternatives, including not using arms at all.

 

I defer to our British colleagues as to whether people wear tie pins with their arms on them to garden parties at Sandringham. Wearing a tie pin with white tie at the International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf would be more than a little bizarre, but let’s say armorial cuff-links (a little over the top to my taste, but for those who like to skirt the edges of outrageousness).

 

Theodore Roosevelt and even more so his cousin Franklin were both big into armorial adornment and decoration of their possessions. It’s not at all out of the question that they or members of their families might have worn armorial cufflinks to a debutante ball or other high society occasion. In fact, FDR regularly wore a signet ring engraved with the arms and tie pin with his crest. Moreover, he and Eleanor gave photographs in frames decorated with the Roosevelt three-feather crest as house gifts to various courtiers who came to the White House with George VI in 1939. He also used the feathers from the crest and the roses from the arms to decorate the border of his White House china.

 

The Roosevelt arms were assumed. Does it sound like FDR was embarrassed to display them in front of royalty?

 

Now to be sure the Roosevelt arms were assumed a couple of centuries before FDR’s time as President. But everything has to start somewhere. Do you suppose FDR would rather have had a grant of new arms from a government authority—American or otherwise—than a 200-year-old coat assumed by his ancestors? I don’t.