SCA Field Only Armoury Project, Part One

The SCA’s Ordinary & Armorial is the Society’s catalog of every device, badge, or name ever registered, all the way back to the Year I A.S. (It’s currently A.S. 52). There’s a bunch of ways to search or browse the O&A, but the most powerful (and least user friendly!) is the Complex Search Form.

Thankfully, if you’re interesting in something relatively simple like “how many Field Only registries are there, total”, the CSF setup is quite simple – FO means Field Only. At this time there are 231 entries in that search result. 165 of those are devices, 39 are badges, and the final 27 are real-world devices, badges, or flags the College of Heralds have decided to protect as being “important real-world” items. This means you can’t, say, claim the arms of Cardinal Richelieu of France as your SCA arms, among other things.

As a way of getting better at reading heraldic blazons and re-creating (emblazoning) the designs, I’ve decided to work through at least the 165 devices in that Field Only list, and probably the badges as well. I’ll be publishing them here in blocks of nine.

Under each device, the block of text has the submitter’s SCA name, the date the device was approved by Laurel Sovereign of Arms, which Kingdom the submitter was in a the time, the blazon (text description of the design) and finally any notes associated – none of the devices in this batch have any notes, but we’ll see a scattering as we progress.

The date is important because some designs that were accepted in the past would no longer be accepted now; the rules have changed a number of times over the decades. This is not as much a problem with field primary armory like this as it might be with more exotic charges on more complex devices. The language used in the blazons has also changed slightly; some devices would be blazoned differently if they were recent; the old blazon isn’t wrong, just in some cases not as clear or as accurate as a recent blazon wouldd be.

Field Only Armory Project, Block One of Many! See text for details, click for full size.

In this group, right off the bat we have a couple of unusual field divisions, chapé ployé and chausse ployé. I have to confess I skipped those two in favour of a dozen or so simpler ones before coming back to them. Ulrich Krieger’s black and white device, top right, is our first real look at the glorious practice of stacking field divisions and counterchanging to get awesome and complex designs from relatively simple blazon descriptions – we’ll see a lot more of that as this project rolls on!

If I had to pick a favourite from this set it would have to be the counterchanged pean and erminois of Ulrich Krieger’s arms, although the classic blue and white jagged dancetty of Yaacov ben haRav Elieser’s device also appeals.

It also occurs to me that this might be the first time in many years or even decades that anyone has emblazoned some of these arms. Some of the holders of these arms might well no longer be with us. I sometimes look a challenging design up to double-check that my version matches another version, and some of these lovely designs do not appear anywhere else on the web that I can find. It’s an unexpectedly sobering thought in what started out as a purely self-absorbed little study project.

If you have comments or see a mistake in my emblazoning, please post below! If you find your own device or a friend’s among those I’ve emblazoned, please do comment, I’d love to see how (or if!) people are using their devices for heraldic display.

Wondering what the heck most of the above is about? The Heraldry for non-Heralds primer is an awesome place to start learning heraldic lingo.


Things Creative & Anachronistic

I appear to have finally joined the Society for Creative Anachronism, after about fifteen or maybe twenty years of pretending I didn’t want to…

My interest in heraldry has found a new outlet, among other things, so I’ve decided to use this blog (as opposed to my wargaming blog) to post about heraldry, sewing, and other SCA projects or events as time allows.

Bikes and other randomness will continue too, no worries!

The SCA has thousands of registered heraldic devices and badges on their online Ordinary & Armorial and I’ve been rummaging around looking at various designs and learning how the Complex Search Form works. I wound up pulling out every “Field Only” device and badge – that is, designs with only divisions of the field used in them, no ordinaries (shapes) or other charges. These seemingly simple designs can be really striking, and I decided I’d use Inkscape to emblazon (draw) all 231 current Field Only devices.

I’ll start posting the output from this “Field Only Project” shortly; I’ve gotten far enough ahead on the list of designs that I should be able to schedule a couple of posts per week and keep up until I’ve done all of them! I hope, anyway…