Lovecraftian Heraldry

In 1927 the weird fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft devised for himself a coat of arms. It was done in the spirit of fun, influenced by his friend Wilfred Blanch Talman, “who has transmitted enough of his enthusiasm” for heraldry to motivate the undertaking. To my knowledge Lovecraft never assumed the arms in any practical sense but he approached the design with a high degree of genealogical seriousness. Anyone who has read his letters knows that he was a repository for family history so this is not surprising.

The personal arms represent a quartering of those granted to various paternal and maternal ancestors, what Lovecraft calls his “four main streams of blood.” In a letter to Frank Belknap Long, he explains the quarters:

The upper two, left to right, are Lovecraft & Phillips, which I have always known. The lower left is Allgood—family of my father’s mother—of which I had the verbal description, but I never saw drawn out till Talman interpreted the language with his facile pen. The lower right is Place—family of my mother’s mother—which I had never seen in my life until yesterday afternoon when when we looked it up at the library…the crest and motto are Lovecraft.

The letter is in the collection of Brown University Library.

Fifth Avenue Heraldry

The choir of Saint Thomas Episcopal Church in New York is the premier Anglican choir in America, our answer to King’s College, Cambridge. This is reflected in the parish heraldry.

The College of Arms in the United Kingdom granted arms to Saint Thomas in 1975. Below is a blazon from the grant, which hangs in the Parish House.

Arms: Or on a Cross formy throughout Azure between four closed Books saltirewise Gules garnished and each charged with a Long Cross a Spear Or headed Argent.

Crest: On a Wreath Argent and Gules Issuant from a Celestial Crown Or five Trumpets fanwise Argent garnished Or Mantled Azure doubled Argent.

Supporters: On either side a Chorister vested in Red Cassock with White Surplice and Ruff proper holding in the exterior hand a Book also proper bound Sable.

Heraldry of Dutch New York

Proposed coat of arms for New Amsterdam, unknown artist, 1630

I was looking through the archives of the New-York Historical Society when I came across the image above, identified as a “proposed” coat of arms for what is now New York City when it was still New Amsterdam. It had been presented to the Dutch West India Company in 1630, but was not approved. An article at the New Netherland Institute explains:

Among the papers of Hans Bontemantel, Director of the Amsterdam Chamber of the West India Company, held by the New York Public Library are…drawings of proposed coats of arms for New Amsterdam and New Netherland prepared by an anonymous artist in 1630 for the consideration of the Heeren XIX (the Lords Nineteen)…ruling council of the West India Company.

The coat of arms designed for the whole of New Netherland colony, which encompassed most of eastern New York State, was approved at this time. It consisted of “a black beaver on a gold field, with embroidery of white Zeewant on a blue background, decked with a count’s crown.”

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Coat of arms of New Netherland, unknown artist, 1630

It may have been that the Heeren rejected the proposed arms for the city because of the beavers rampant supporting the shield. The lion supporters on the arms of old Amsterdam were considered too important to be replaced altogether. The artist prepared a second version which included the lions, moving the beaver to the crest. This version was accepted on a provisional basis but was also ultimately rejected.

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Provisional arms of New Amsterdam, unknown artist, 1630.

Note: in the designation of right, left, and center, the New Netherland Institute confuses the proposed arms for New Netherland with the second version of the proposed arms for New Amesterdam.