Might be interesting to read the whole thing, but seeing only the abstract, not sure what it would add to the recent and past blood-letting here!
I’ve finished reading this article and would like to recommend it to you all. It even includes a footnote to an article written by the AHS’s own Joe McMillan. In my opinion, the main strength of the piece is its examination of some of the more significant operators of heraldic bucket shops in 19th and 20th century America. Some of the accounts are quite amusing!
I’m going to have to see if my local library has a subscription to Cambridge Journals Online—I love to see myself cited, especially if favorably, but can’t bring myself to pay $6.00 for the privilege.
The author of the article describes the adoption of coats of arms by various American industrialists and robber barons during the Gilden Age of the late nineteenth century, and the subsequent negative reactions printed in American newspapers describing these coats of arms as un-American symbols of aristrocracy. The author then goes on to write about various American bucket-shop operators, and how they popularized the now-common misconception that there is a coat of arms “for every surname” through the mass marketing of armorial trinkets and souvenirs. If I read and understand the article correctly, the author then claims that, motivated by profits, the efforts of bucket-shop operators to market their wares to Americans of all social classes helped to break down the perceptions held by many Americans that coats of arms are necessarily associated with class or aristrocracy.
In one amusing part of the article, the author explores how one American bucket-shop operator generated “blazons” for customers with unusual surnames that didn’t already appear in his “sources”:
...according to a former…employee, new designs invariably were displayed on a shield divided quarterly, with a small shield – an “escutcheon of pretence” in heraldic terms – at its centre. A simple computer program used the first four letters of the surname to determine instantly the charges and colours for each quarter and the escutcheon. Thus the arms assigned to the Apperson family featured a capital letter “A” in the first quarter, a phoenix in the second and third, a vertical stripe (a “pale” in heraldry) in the fourth, and a purple escutcheon of pretence…as spelling alone determined the design, the…Appersons shared their with Appells, Appelmans, and Appenzellers, regardless of whether or not these names were true cognates…
Very interesting Seb, and of special interest while we are engaging in a discussion on the use of nobiliary additaments and the connection between personal/family arms and social class in a different thread.