I could have sworn that we’d discussed at some point the question of the tinctures of the arms of New York City. As far as I’ve ever learned, they’ve never been prescribed by law, and all the surviving depictions from the early period seem to be monochrome—seals and engravings and such.
I know there have been discussions, apparently in other fora, about what the tinctures should be, but until now I’d never run across primary evidence.
This is the coat of arms painted on a punch bowl commissioned by De Witt Clinton in 1812, during his third term as mayor, as a gift to the city. I found the photo in a brochure on Chinese export porcelain published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This makes me feel just unbearably smug, since I’ve always argued that, absent evidence to the contrary, the absence of Pietrasancta hatching on any of the engravings implied proper charges on an argent field. Whether that was right or not, you’ve got to think Mayor Clinton knew what the arms of his city looked like.
But it’s not just what Mayor Clinton knew, but what the painter at the Chinese plate factory knew, or thought he knew, based on the instructions sent from NY and presumably translated into Chinese for the painter. Think of the last time you tried to assemble something made in China using instructions translated into something resembling English…
I would argue, based on the official flag of the city, that the arms would be blue charges on a white field; but Proper charges would be equally plausible if we were to assume that the seal on the flag isn’t intended to be in color, rather just a monochrome image of the impression on a sealed document.