Notes from November 13 Heralds Chat

This week’s chat focused on the responsibilities of a branch herald. We also looked at some period armory and did as a quick round of OSCAR commentary.

Ten heralds of the East attended, nearly all of whom were branch heralds or their deputies, from all areas of the kingdom and all levels of experience — one herald had held the same position for twenty years, while another learned learned during the call that he was being promoted from deputy to take his barony’s pursuivant position.

Role of a Branch Herald

We discussed the primary additional responsibilities of a branch herald, over and above the activities carried out by a herald at large:

  • Assist your branch with registering badges and order names, and other branch-level administrative actions if needed.
  • Coordinate court heraldry for your branch’s nobles and events in your area.
  • Coordinate name and armory submissions for the your branch’s populace.

Several people emphasized the point that as the branch herald, you’re not responsible for calling every court and submitting every registration — it’s entirely fine if you delegate most or all of this work to other people — instead, your key job is organizing the people and paperwork to make sure these things all get done.

That category of paperwork includes filing quarterly reports covering the activities listed above; the schedule for these has recently changed and they are now due on the first of February, May, August, and November.

Folks also suggested some other less-obvious areas that branch heralds might find themselves addressing:

  • Monitoring OSCAR to track the submissions of the populace of your area and contacting locals if necessary to resolve problems, such as approving new art so that items can be corrected during commentary rather than returned.
  • Encouraging heraldic display, both of the branch’s symbols and the populace’s, to help make events feel more immersive and authentic.
  • Providing heraldic education to the populace, familiarizing them with the basics of names and armory so they feel comfortable starting down this road.
  • Supporting and educating the junior heralds of your area so they continue to develop new skills and feel connected to the community.
  • Coordinating with royal heralds or heralds of neighboring branches to help arrange things when nobles visit events in other regions.
  • Keep track of precedence, including knowing who are the senior-most peers of your area, so that they may be acknowledged and asked to lead toasts at feast.
  • Ensure that your local awards are properly recorded in the EK Order of Precendence web site, or file corrections if needed, and help your nobles look up histories as they decide who else should be recognized.

Some of the documents we reviewed included:

In the course of discussing precedence, we looked at

Period Armory

We continued our practice of spending a few minutes looking at period armory from a specific era and region, this time reviewing “Banderia Apud Grunwald” which shows banners flown in Poland during the fourteenth century at the height of the Teutonic Order.

Looking at period armorials helps to train one’s eye to recognize period armorial style so that you’re not misled by SCA cliches that are almost never used in period armory (like “per bend sinister X and Y, a W and a Z”), and enables you to lead submitters to relevant source material if they want to create armory that reflects a particular time and place.

There are several sites where you can search for period armorials, including this one.

OSCAR Commentary

We finished with a round of commentary in OSCAR, looking at the October 15 EK ILoI, or East Kingdom Internal Letter of Intent.

Some general points that were discussed include:

  • If you don’t have access to OSCAR, you can ask one of the kingdom heralds to request that for you, after first reviewing the ground rules.
  • Remember that OSCAR commentary is private; don’t tell submitters that a particular person raised an issue with their items, and don’t tell them that something is definitely going to be accepted or returned because nothing’s final until it’s published.
  • It’s okay to raise questions in comments to OSCAR — like “does rule X apply in this case?” or “I found this registration that seems close, does it conflict?” — although very general questions about basic principles should go elsewhere, such as the Baby Heralds Facebook group.

I shared two of my checklists that come in handy when doing OSCAR commentary:

And we shared two tools that can be useful when putting together the category and feature codes for armory conflict checks:

Note that neither of these tools completely automates the process of conflict checking — they’re just shortcuts to looking up the codes in more quickly — and you definitely still need to understand how the complex search tool works and how to check conflicts by hand in order to complete the process.

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