Every Distinct Tincture, Fur, and Field Treatment

A discussion earlier this year led me to the calculation that there were 97 heraldically distinct tinctures, furs, and field treatments recognized in the SCA, and this evening I figured I’d go ahead and sketch them all out.

The math works out as follows:

  • 7 solid tinctures (2 metals plus 5 colors) +
  • 10 neutral furs (every combination of 2 metals x 5 colors) +
  • 20 ermine furs (2 metals ermined of 5 colors each, plus 5 colors ermined of 2 metals each) +
  • 20 masoned (2 metals masoned of 5 colors each, plus 5 colors masoned of 2 metals each) +
  • 20 papellony (2 metals papellony of 5 colors each, plus 5 colors papellony of 2 metals each) +
  • 20 scaly (2 metals scaly of 5 colors each, plus 5 colors scaly of 2 metals each).

(There are more blazonable neutral furs than that, because there are multiple variations of vair and potenty, as well as plumetty and the papelony fur, but all of these are considered heraldically equivalent when counting differences.)

In other words, each of the 97 squares below is considered to be a heraldically distinct tincture/treatment, each worth a full DC from every other possibility.

Adding field treatments (to your field or a charge) is thus an easy way to clear almost any conflict, as long as you can emblazon them in an identifiable fashion, although the results may be so eye-searing that you quickly come to regret the choice!


Update Aug 28: Following some interesting discussion on Facebook, it turns out this collection is incomplete.

Firstly, we allow registrations of “vairy ermine and counter-ermine” and other such combinations — so instead of 10 heraldically distinct neutral furs, there are at least 20, and more likely 180! 

This came as a surprise, partly because SENA doesn’t say “a fur may combine any two tinctures with good contrast” — it states that “a fur may combine any listed color with any listed metal,” which supports the “only ten combinations” interpretation, and suggests that the “vair of ermine” furs would require IAP documentation. But nonetheless, the existence of these two registrations (and lack of IAP notice in the LoARs for them) suggests such a thing is allowed:

  • Rowen Killian. Quarterly vairy azure ermined argent and argent ermined azure and vairy erminois and pean. (OSCAR, LoAR 2010/05)
  • Taran the Wayward. Vairy erminois and pean, an ermine spot vair. (OSCAR, LoAR 2016/11)

That got me thinking — could one register a “vairy ermined”, such as “vair ermined gules,” with the ermine spots being placed overall the vair pattern? I searched the armorial without finding any examples, and a similar search for examples of field treatments applied to furs also came up empty. I can’t tell whether that means that these combinations are disallowed, or whether it just means that nobody has been crazy enough to try it!

And it turns out that we also register vairs of three or four tinctures, further exploding the set of possibilities! To date, all of the registrations so far have been with the same combination of four tinctures, but if we allow any one or two metals combined with any one or two colors, that gives us another 35 combinations, just using solid tinctures — plus hundreds more if we allow ermines.

Here’s a image (also available as downloadable PDF) that includes the extra vairs, but leaves out the “vairy of ermine” and other possible combinations.

Update Aug 29: Thanks to Wendi King for pointing out another registration of a vair containing ermine spots. This one predates the other two, and the LoAR mentions a historical example of its use.

  • Gauvain Eisenbein. Vairy en point erminois and azure, a bordure gules. (LoAR 2004/04, Emblazon)

Note that this one has ermine spots in just one of the vair tinctures, and uses ermine spots that do not match the other side. Taken to its logical extreme, this means that there are thirty-two thousand possible vairs, each heraldically distinct!

Examples of Individually Attested Pattern Registrations

[Update, December 2020:] For the latest version of this document, see A Catalog of Individually Attested Pattern Submissions which includes additional items not listed below.

The SCA’s current rulebook for heraldic submissions, The Standards for Evaluation of Names and Armory (or SENA), establishes a common set of requirements called the “Core Style,” based on armorial practices that were common across late-medieval Europe and on Anglo-Norman conventions in particular.

However, it also provides an escape hatch — you can register designs which do not meet the core style rules if you can show that all of their elements were part of established heraldic practice in some particular time and place. This mechanism is known as an “Individually Attested Pattern” (or IAP), and allows for registration of designs which are typical of German, or Italian, or Japanese, or other heraldic cultures but which would not be registrable under the Anglo-Norman-influenced core style rules. Continue reading “Examples of Individually Attested Pattern Registrations”

Traceable Art at Pennsic

The Book of Traceable Heraldic Art made its premier appearance at Pennsic’s Heralds’ Point art tent this year.

I brought printouts of the full thousand-plus page collection with me, which was sleeved into page protectors by the volunteers at the point. While the new collection is not yet complete enough to retire the old Pennsic Traceable Art book, I was pleased to see that it was of practical use for many of the hundreds of armory submissions generated this year.

Throughout the week of activity, the team in the art tent generated useful notes about areas that needed more work, and as the Point was closing up, Signora Beatrice Domenici della Campana and Master Kryss Kostarev took several hours of their time to sit with me and systematically work through the first 430 pages identifying designs which needed correction or could be safely omitted from the version to be used on site next year.

I look forward to incorporating that feedback and continuing to expand the collection over the coming year.