Youth Combat Badges

Registered heraldic devices and badges are subject to a fair amount of artistic variation and differing interpretations, but when you get to un-registered badges, things can get really out of hand.

The youth combat marshalate is a case in point, with at least five different badges in circulation, none of which have been registered.

The first two of these seem to be in widespread use, while the others only show up in solitary cases, presumably invented on the spot because someone couldn’t find an officially-registered badge.


Sable, two swords in saltire and in chief a label dovetailed Or.

Sable, two swords in saltire and in chief a label dovetailed Or.

The first uses the standard crossed-sword badge of the Knight Marshalate, adding a label in chief, which in English armory was a standard way of differencing the first heir’s device from his father’s. This is the version shown on the cover of the SCA’s current Youth Combat Handbook as well as on the Middle Kingdom’s YC DEM page.


Sable, two swords in saltire Or, and in chief a roundel per pale Or and argent bearing two roundels counterchanged.

Sable, two swords in saltire Or, and in chief a roundel per pale Or and argent bearing two roundels counterchanged.

The second is similar, except instead of the label in chief it bears a small version of the Youth Minister’s badge, with purple replaced by gold. This version appears on the websites of the East Kingdom Earl Marshal and the Earl Marshal of Æthelmearc.


Sable, two boffers in saltire Or.

Sable, two boffers in saltire Or.

A third resembles the crossed-swords badge, but replaces the swords with “boffers”, the padded rattan weapons used in youth combat. This version is found in the East Kingdom graphics library.


Per pale purpure and argent, two swords in saltire Or between two roundels counterchanged.
.

Per pale purpure and argent, two swords in saltire Or between two roundels counterchanged.

A fourth superimposes the golden crossed swords on the Youth Minister’s purple and white badge. This version is found on the list of Officers of the Barony of One Thousand Eyes (SE Idaho).


Per pale purpure and argent, two swords in saltire and in chief two roundels counterchanged.

Per pale purpure and argent, two swords in saltire and in chief two roundels counterchanged.

The fifth also uses the Youth Minister’s badge as a base, but counterchanges the swords and moves the roundels to be in chief. This version is found on the list of Officers of the Barony of the Angels (Los Angeles CA).

[Update, April 2019:] This badge was actually registered in 2002 by Bridget Lucia Mackenzie of Caid, and then offered for transfer to the Society in 2003, but the transfer was declined in February 2004 on the grounds that the Society Marshal did not wish to define a Society-wide badge for youth combat; it remains registered to Bridget Lucia Mackenzie.


In addition to these, there are probably others floating around out there that I haven’t encountered yet.

The first of these is my favorite, as it’s easy to read as “heirs to rattan combat.” I’m less fond of including the youth ministry’s emblem, as the youth combat program comes under the authority of the marshalate and is not part of the youth ministry. And while the boffers shown in the East Kingdom’s version are cute, I worry that at a distance a viewer would be hard pressed to know that they were foam weapons as opposed to another style of sword.

I’d love to see that first version registered or otherwise more formally standardized so that there was less ambiguity here, but in practice it seems this is not likely to cause any real confusion.

A Digital Armory Toolbox

My freehand illustration skills are rudimentary at best, so I do all of my armorial design using a computer, and I figured I’d post a few notes about the software I use in hopes that it might be of use to others.

(I should note that I’m a Mac user, and wouldn’t even know where to start on recommendations for Windows.)

I use OmniGraffle as my illustration tool, which may seem an odd choice as it seems to be primarily used as a technical diagramming application, but I’ve been using it for two decades and it works well for me. The fact that it imports and exports PDF files means that I can combine armory designs with the SCA’s submission forms, and allows me to give people nice high-quality vector files rather than pixelated images which can’t effectively be scaled up to banner size.

To convert bitmap images, such as those from the invaluable PicDic, I use Potrace. The standard distribution only reads PBM and BMP files, but there’s a Mac wrapper that provides a GUI and adds support for a wide range of file formats, called DragPotrace. DragPotrace only seems to be available from that one Japanese web site, the installation process is confusing (you need to install the regular command-line Potrace first) and the UI is clunky, but once you learn the necessary options, it works great: for most of the images I use, I can just click the “Opaque” checkbox and export the results as PDF.

To convert SVG images, such as the Viking Answer Lady’s SVG Images for Heralds or the Wikimedia SVG Coat of Arms Elements, I use Gapplin to export them as PDFs. The next version of OmniGraffle will add SVG import, which will obviate this step, but in the meantime it’s very useful.

I’ve been working on a collection of standard charges and divisions in OmniGraffle format, as well as templates for armorial design and submission, and hope to share those at a later date.

Tilting At “Arabian” Lamps

The image of Aladdin’s lamp is so well established that the appearance of actual oil lamps of the medieval Levant might come as a surprise: they are made of clay, and shaped more like a gravy boat than a teapot.

Arab-Norman Lamp, 11th century, Salerno
Arab-Norman Lamp, 11th century, Salerno

I stumbled over this while helping an Østgarðrian prepare an armory registration featuring an Arabian lamp and wandered down a fascinating rabbit hole of web research.

(SCA heralds with OSCAR commenting privileges may enjoy reading the repeated efforts of Bruce Draconarius of Mistholme to guide people towards using the archeologically-attested form of the lamp here, here, here, here, and here — occasionally overheated, but still an interesting example of the “historical education” tendency within the SCA.)

Greetings to the known world!

I’ve started this site to collect material related to heraldry, with a focus on armory as practiced in the SCA.

This site will function more as a record of my learning experience rather than as an instructional guide or authoritative reference, as I’ve only have a few months of heraldic experience, having designed arms for my son and I this spring, receiving training and consultation experience at Pennsic XLV, and being elected the herald of Whyt Whey in August.

Feel free to contact me with questions or feedback about this or any of my other heraldic efforts.

Yours in service to the dream,

— Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin
mka Matthew Simon Ryan Cavalletto