COLLEGE OF HERALDS KINGDOM OF AN TIR
Six Common Reasons for Return (and how to avoid them) - By Frederic Badger
1. Breaking the Rule of Tincture: This rule helps to maintain good contrast on armory, and
is summarized as "Thou shalt not put color on color, or metal on metal." Colors in heraldry
are Gules (red), Sable (black), Vert (green), Azure (blue) or Purpure (purple); and metals
are Argent (silver or white) and Or (yellow or gold). Keeping this in mind will help you
design a distinct and identifiable device.
2. Slot Machine Heraldry: This is when you have three distinct charges in one charge group
on your device. For example, having a Sun, moon, and star as the three main charges is
considered three distinct charges in one group. This was never really done in period
heraldry. Arranging things into primary (main) and secondary charges can help with this.
For instance: A black field with a large gold sun within a ring of (smaller) white stars, and
on a white chief (covers the top of the shield) a black moon. Notice how they are organized
into groups? Main group is the sun, the secondary group is the stars, and the moon is a
tertiary group on the chief.
3. The appearance of marshaled armory: Marshalling, in period, was a way of showing
familial relationships. In the SCA we do not register the marshaled arms, but simply
register the individual coats of arms. It is up to the individuals to display them as they wish.
Common period marshalling are Per Pale (down the middle) and Quarterly (divided into
four) with distinct arms in each. For example, a shield split down the middle, one side blue,
with a gold star, and the other side red with a white moon would be considered marshaled,
because it resembles the joining of two separate devices.
4. Using restricted or forbidden charges: There are a few charges that may not be used by
just anyone. They are either presumptuous, offensive, or are restricted to use by certain
rank.. Examples of presumptuous charges include: Tudor rose, crowned shamrock,
crowned rose. Examples of offensive charges include: the hand of glory, swastika,
triskelion gammadion. Examples of restricted charges include: a gold chain (knight), Laurel
Wreath (branches), and Coronets (peers). Note: these lists are not all-inclusive.
5. Overly complex: In period heraldic devices were fairly simple affairs. If a device has too
many colors and charges, they can be hard to identify. We use a rule of thumb of no more
than 8 charge groups and colors. For example, a blue shield with three white lions, and a
yellow border. This would have a complexity count of 5, with three colors blue, yellow, and
white, and two charges lions, and the border. Having a complexity count of more than 8 is
usually a cause for return.
6. Complex lines drawn to small: There are a number complex that are available for use in
heraldry including dovetailed, wavy, etc. If these lines are drawn with their "bumps" too
small, and frequent, it is hard to make out what it is. Drawing the lines very distinctly, and
bold can is the easiest way to avoid return.
Kingdom of An Tir College of Heralds