James Crouchet crouchet at infinity.ccsi.com
Mon Mar 27 23:36:53 PST 1995

On Metals & Colors:

The metals are OR (gold or yellow) and ARGENT (Silver, White or Grey)

The Colors are Vert (green), Gules (red), Purpure (purple), Sable 
(black) and Azure (blue).

The rule, simply stated, is that one cannot place a colored charge on a 
colored background or charge, nor can one place a metal charge on a metal 
background or charge. This is the rule of contrast.

This rule is designed to keep charges from disapearing into the 
background. Consider how much more visable a yellow lion is on a black 
background than on a white background.  By always putting metal charges 
on colored backgrounds and vice-versa you keep those charges clear from 
across the field.

Note that there are exceptions to this and many shades of interpretation, 
but that is the basic rule.

I can only think of two places where I have heard of a sleeve in 
heraldry. One is as the decorated sleeve of a garmet, in particular a 
heraldic tabard. The other is as a charge known as a monche (sp) which is 
a stylized drawing of a lady's sleeve, used as a charge.

A bordure is a rim around the shield, drawn wide enough to be 
recognizable as a charge.  I did not say that well, but I could easily 
show you a picture and it would be clear.

Which brings me to my main point. Heraldry is an art form just as much as 
impressionism, cubism or realism.  These _rules_ are just a set of 
guidelines to help a person to understand how to consrtuct pictures in 
this art form.  But you can follow all the rules and still have really 
bad heraldry, or break a few and still have good heraldry.  The trick is 
to study it until you can look at it and say, "Now THAT is heraldry!" 

The book you want is Stephen Friar's Dictionary of Heraldry.  There are 
several others, but I haven't found a better basic guide and the price is 
good too.

Here are a few of the NOT HERALDRY things to whatch out for:

Landscape.  The Sun coming up over the trees with a lake to the left. 
This is art, but not heraldry.

3-D art.  Heraldry is not 3-D. Nuff Said.

Too many "natural" charges. Natural roses, tigers, lions, etc. take away 
from the heraldic look of a device.  There is a heraldic form for these 
items for a reason. Use them and your devices will look more heraldic.

Too many charges.  This often comes up when someone is trying to tell
their life story on their device.  First I was a baby and then I turned
two and had a wagon and then I turned five and got a sword and then... We
call this ABPS (another boring persona story).  In short, limit yourself
to no more than 3 unrelated charges and keep them BIG and recognizeable.
So 4 or 5 stars would be ok, but a star, a sword, a wolf's head, a keg, 
a goat, a tin can, a meatloaf and a butterfly would be too much. 

Keep your charges recognizeable.  Can you figure out what it is easily 
from a distance? If not, try again.  This means charges should not 
consist of a few thin lines, look too much like something else, or look 
like a meatloaf. Meatloaf heraldry is bad.

Limit the details.  If someone wants glow in the dark eyes or purple 
claws on their 4 lions, so what? Don't bother to register this kind of 
trivia, just let the artist draw it in when they use it. You can't tell a 
purple clawed lion from a good old green clawed lion at 100 feet anyway.

I hope this helps.  And you know the only way to really learn heraldry is 
to hang around with the (shudder) heralds. Our baronial herald is on this 
list -- ask her when she has heraldic consultation and show up.

Savian, Persivant at Large

On Mon, 27 Mar 1995 ches at pentagon.io.com wrote:

> I have been appointed the caretaker of heraldry in Amtgard but I have some 
> questions that I feel only SCA folks can answer.  My questions are these.  What 
> is the rule on metal touching color?  What is a sleeve?  What is defined as a 
> borduer?  These are rules that are not clear in my books, (I either have two 
> opposing answers or no definition).  I am asking for both an SCA point of view 
> and a mundane view.  I feel that the most knowledgable people on such matters 
> are the SCA.  This is why I am asking on this board.  Amtgard has not yet 
> defined the rules for heraldry, so for now it is  free to individual 
> interpretations.  I would like to introduce basic guidelines and still stay in 
> the fantasy genre but be able to answer questions that will come up.  Any new 
> books on the market on the subject of Heraldry today?
> Ciao
> Sir Ches               Lady Chiara
> Austin, Tx.            Barony of Bryn Gwlad
> Duchy of Tirana
> -------------------------
> E-mail:Ches at io.com
>        Ches at pentagon
> -------------------------
> A baby or two for me, all but two says boys. Due date Sept.3rd.
> @}--,--'--- 

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