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.
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.”
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.
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.