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Heraldry
The brightly colored designs you may see on a shield, banner, clothing, or personal items are part of heraldry in the SCA. In the broadest sense, heraldry encompasses everything that heralds do, from making announcements to helping people devise their own cognizances. These cognizances, sometimes miscalled coat-of-arms, are personal insignia that distinguishes one person from another. The ones that you see are most likely registered in someone's name, so it is not permissible to copy any of those and use it on your shield, banner, or personal items.

A "device" is the term used for any heraldic emblem registered to an individual. When a person becomes an "armiger," the heraldic device is called "arms." An armiger is a person who has been awarded arms by the Crown.

Heraldry uses a limited set of clear, bold "tinctures." The colors are: azure (blue), gules (red), sable (back), purpure (purple), and vert (green). The metals are: Or (gold or yellow) and argent (silver or white). There are also furs which combine the two types of tinctures in a complex repetitive design.

Since it is easier to see things which contrast with their backgrounds, the rules of heraldry state that colors must be placed on metals and metals must be placed on colors. This guarantees that charges do not blend on the field.

"Charges" are stylized versions of everyday objects, beasts, and birds. Charges can be used in multiples or in combination with other charges. They can be placed directly on the field or layered upon another charge. The combination of field, charge, and tinctures results in the final, unique device.

Your device must be different from all other registered devices, including such familiar heraldry from the modern world as the logos for NutraSweet® and the Royal Dutch/Shell Oil Company.

nutrasweet.jpg (10625 bytes) shell.jpg (11318 bytes)
Nutrasweet ® Shell Oil
If you would like a heraldic device of your own, talk with your local herald about designing one and registering it with the Society's College of Heralds.

 

More Information
Laurel Sovereign of Arms of the SCA (offsite)
Middle Kingdom College of Heralds (offsite)
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