Thursday, 23 December 2021

strings palewise throughout counterchanged

The venerable College of Arms granted Sir Paul McCartney on his fifty-ninth birthday in June 2001 his heraldric achievement, presenting it for the first time on this day during the following year.The chequered flaunches of the escutcheon—the finish of a Gibson guitar—represent the four Beatles. For the crest, the avian creature perched on the knight’s helmet supporting a fretted instrument is the mythological liver bird that symbolises the city that our Liverpudlians are from. The motto below: ECCE COR MEUM—Behold my heart, is taken from the oratorio dedicated to his first wife, Linda. Incredibly, the college was able to deliver to McCartney an elegant design that references his life and career whilst adhering to the vocabulary and tradition of their trade and charge.

Friday, 26 November 2021

hoist and heading

Via Web Curios, we are directed towards the simple though diverting application called Flag Waver. The pictured GIF (and while if you choose an animation, it is static, it does look supremely recursive should one pick this image) of the footage is not nearly as fluid as the app will make any image of one’s choosing nor does justice to the photo-realistic skies, not just flags obviously, flail and unfurl in the breeze, which is adjustable as well as the type of flagpole and to display one’s banner on and how it’s oriented.

Monday, 27 September 2021

distinguishing signs of vehicles for international traffic

From tomorrow on (28 September, 2021) and with no official reason cited though one suspects it is in show of support for Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom is switching its national identifier decal for cars and lorries from GB (Great Britain, the nations nominally to the exclusion of NI) to UK. License plates which also currently bear the GB identifier and the circle of stars on a blue field representing the European Union will also require a change, to UK above a Union Flag. The new stickers, needed for travel outside the UK but not applicable to Gibraltar or other overseas territories, will be available for £1.50.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

fristaden christiania

Occupied over the course of weeks prior to the declaration, amid protests of the Danish government of the lack of affordable housing in Copenhagen, squatters claimed their takeover of the abandoned military barracks and historic depot of the borough of Christianshavn on this day in 1971 to establish an independent commune. The unique, semi-autonomous site focused on self-sustainability and collectivism is home to around one thousand residents. The flag is a modified version of the labarum, the military standard of Emperor Constantine and pairs with the city flag of Amsterdam, triple x.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

armorial bearings

Incorporating heraldic data from Wikimedia Commons (previously) with cartographical coordination from Open Street Maps, we quite liked this developing website from Adnan Smlatiฤ‡ of European Coats of Arms, emblazons and charges that can be filtered and overlain by administrative divisions (see also) and zooming down to the most granular levels of the landed gentry. It’s a pretty cool endeavour and let’s help the creator met their stretch-goal.

Friday, 6 August 2021

regimental colours

Via the lens of heraldic conventions developed over centuries of colonisation and exploitation, we are afforded a glimpse into the complex history and socio-economic relations of the traditional companies of warriors of the Akan culture—called Asafo—of Ghana and the Ivory Coast (see previously) that pledge to defend the land through resistance to assimilation and care for their community, like ward custodians. Reminiscent of latter day Afghan war rugs (an example pictured here), learn more about the flags’ history and legacy at the link up top.

Monday, 2 August 2021

aces & eights

Referenced throughout popular culture including tattooed on McMurphy’s shoulder in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the cards drawn in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and numerous law enforcement emblems—especially in Las Vegas, the Old West Wild Bill Hickok folk hero had just been dealt this allegedly cursed poker hand (with a fifth unrevealed wild card) on this day in 1876 during a heated game at Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon in Deadwood, Dakota when shot in the head by a drunk Jack McCall. A bit of creative retconning fifty years on solidified this narrative, whereas previously the Dead Man’s hand referred to a full-house with three Jacks and a pair of Tens and regarded with suspicion.

Saturday, 31 July 2021


70% cรดte d’ivoire, 66% cyprus, 65% republic of ireland: doodle world flags and let a computer guess—via Web Curios  

peaky finders: a selection of interactive mapping application still functional and chugging along a decade later  

cult of the sun: a look at the Athon, a 1980 Lamborghini concept car  

ss experiment: an unsuccessful ferry, powered by eight horses on a treadmill  

astronomia: a lovely antique deck of playing cards with celestial charts and information on the planets and stars 

flsa: US congressional representation introducing legislation for a four-day work week—see previously here and here  

google doodle: a selection of the best commemorative banners—via Things Magazine

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

chevron of chain counterchanged argent, sable, argent

Winning entrant designed by vexillologist Gracie Sheppard in a contest sponsored by a local museum to create a symbol for the region, the flag of Black County was first hoisted in 2012—thereafter on this day to mark the invention of the Newcomen steam engine in 1712 that heralded the beginning of the Industrial Revolution with a county fรชte.

The heavily industrialised area in the West Midlands after Birmingham has no single set of defined boundaries to the satisfaction of all with the most common being where the coal seam has come to the surface and refers to the layer of soot that covered everything from all the mining, mills and factories by the mid-1800s. Chain-manufacture was big business there, as was glass-making and brickworks. Charles Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop established the region’s first literary conceit as a vicious hellscape in 1841 with others upholding it including J. R. R. Tolkien’s Mordor—elvish for dark land—corresponding with contemporary accountings, with some suggestion that activist and Communist and Labour party mayor of Bilston in Staffordshire, Ben Bilboe, was the inspiration and namesake for the hobbit character, the author’s family having roots in the West Midlands.

Monday, 12 April 2021

regimental colours

Whereas the claim that Union Jack properly only refers to the naval ensign flown at sea is vexillologically vexing and likely a historical misunderstanding (or pedantic overreach), in an attempt to make my blog more bedecked with the Union Flag than it already is and therefore a more definitive and trustworthy source of information we recall that on this day in 1606 it was decreed for maritime purposes the nations of England and Scotland would use a joint flag symbolising the regal and personal union under James VI/I (see previously) upon inheriting the two crowns plus the Irish throne. The Cross of Saint Andrew countercharged with the Cross of Saint Patrick, overall the Cross of Saint George, heraldically speaking, was officially adopted with the Act of Union of 1800 that merged came into effect the first day of the next year—merging Great Britain with the Irish kingdom. Even before the Republic of Ireland won independence, the saltire of Saint Patrick was not embraced as representative of the island or its patron and associated with the personal coat of arms of the FitzGerald-FitzMaurice family dynasty.

Monday, 1 March 2021

dewi sant

Patron of poets, vegetarians and the Welsh, Saint David (*500) is fรชted on this day, the occasion of his death in 601 at an advanced age. David’s monastic rules prescribed that the monks had to plough their own plots of land without the aid, abuse of draught animals and adopt ascetic practises that avoided meat and beer—giving rise to his associated symbol, the leek. The saint’s other iconography includes a flag—sable a cross or—representing the nation the same way the crosses of George, Andrew and Patrick stand for England, Scotland and Ireland respectively though this alternate banner (engrailed rather than offset) is not as prevalent as the Red Dragon. Reminiscent of the admonition “Be kind to small things” it is reported that David’s last words were “Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd”—“Do ye the little things in life,” a well-known saying in Wales.

Friday, 19 February 2021

the big guava revisited

We’ve previously called out the City of Tampa, Florida for its particularly horrendous flag (though not to go unrivalled elsewhere and even by the state itself), and now learn that there is a revitalised campaign with the city’s mayor (in whom is vested the unilateral right to change it) to petition for change complete with a host of modern, vexillologically adherent alternatives under the hashtag #fixourflag. What’s your favourite or do you have something else in mind? Do let us know—especially if your municipal banner is in need of a re-think.

Friday, 15 January 2021


oh yeah: this supercut of Kool Aid Man crashing through barriers is somehow soothing

il cameriere: a “self-portrait” by Mannerist painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo—see previously  

warp and weft: Scotland honours its Muslim citizens with an Islamic tartan  

#wikipedia20: wish Wikipedia (previously) a happy birthday, first launched online on this day in 2001  

clip & save for g.i. joe command files: the insurrection was filled with Cobra villains—see previously 

๐Ÿ˜ท: a bevy of COVID-related headlines from the New Shelton wet/dry  

start from checkpoint: an arcade style, side-scrolling game about 2020, via Miss Cellania‘s Links

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

the governor and company of the merchants of great britain, trading to the south seas and other parts of america, and for the encouragement of fishery

Though not the only joint-stock venture to hedge its liabilities and ultimately prove ruinous for investors, the South Sea Company (official long form above), founded as a public-private partnership—with the support of the government hoping to offset some of the national debt incurred during its involvement with the War of the Spanish Succession and its own colonial activities—in 1711, was the most spectacular economic bubble, bankrupting thousands of investors and speculators who had underwritten the enterprise. Originally incorporated as a substitute revenue generating operation when a national lottery scheme run on behalf of the Crown failed to turn a profit (the jackpot winners were deprived of their prizes), the public was instead invited to purchase shares of a chartered company with a monopoly over trade with Spain and Portugal and would in time collect dividends from the profits. The stock price was inflated by those late-comers not wanting to miss out (taking out loans to take part) on an opportunity and rife mismanagement, including a not insignificant amount of business in the trafficking of enslaved individuals from Africa to Central and South America—and though huge sums of money were trading hands, the company failed to be profitable and engaged in increasing debt for equity swaps until the price increased in a frenzy from £100 to over £1000 in the course of a few months in 1720, falling just as precipitously at an even faster pace. A decade after its founding, on this day, with recriminations rampant and with the aristocracy, the merchant classes as well as the working poor duped and financially broken, the Committee of Inquiry on the South Sea Bubble came forth with their findings, revealing fraud and corruption at all levels. Amazingly the newly appointed First Lord of the Treasury, Robert Walpole, was able to restore public confidence in the financial market and the company continued—this time focusing its efforts on whaling—until the reign of Victoria, finally dissolved in 1838.

Saturday, 12 December 2020

umleitung: bedheim

We made a brief stop in the village outside of the town of Rรถmhild in the county of Hildburghausen to take in the architectural ensemble, typifying a Baroque manor, of the three-wing castle and fortified church. First constructed in the thirteenth century and coming into ownership of the aristocratic family Rรผhle von Lilenstern once ennobled by Hapsburg Emperor Charles VII after 1743, chiefly then as a summer residence for Prince Joseph Friedrich von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, it is still the ancestral home of the heirs and an interesting architectural footnote on its own. 

The village became more intriguing, however, seeing that its crest features a pipe organ and a dinosaur. I don’t think we’d ever encountered this sort of charge before on a coat-of-arms and the raptor is definitely not a mythological griffin.  It turns out that one of the notable descendants, Hugo, was an avid paleotologist and had made many finds in the surrounding area, discovering among others an example originally referred to as the leaping lizard (Halticosaurus, springende Echse) and later renamed Liliensternus

I recall my grade three teacher, Miss Friday, one day bringing in a cast of a fossilised dinosaur foot discovered on their property with the taxonomical classification of Arkansaurus fridayius, which I thought was an odd instance of show-and-tell to end all show-and-tell sessions. A museum was established in the castle to display skeletal remains, but once the family could reestablish residence after the war in 1969, the collection was transferred to the Museum of Natural History in Berlin. The organ of the coat-of-arms is in deference to the pair of instruments installed in the church, a greater and a lesser installed in the early eithteenth century a decade apart (and can be played in tandem) by prominent local master builders and is adjacent to the entombment place of many members of the family Rรผhle von Lilienstern. We weren’t able to glean much about the war years and there was a sombre and intriguing memorial plaque to all those who underwent forced sterilisation during Nazi times and research yielded little. In better times, we’ll return to learn more, go to the Schloss cafรฉ and maybe take in an organ concert.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020


Debuting during Karnival festivities on this day in 1948 in Kรถln, native composer and Schlager-performer Karl Berbuer’s (*1900 – †1977) dissonantly but pointedly humorous, self-deprecating tune about occupied West Germany (see previously here and here) became for a time the country’s de facto nation anthem, played at sporting events in lieu of an official one, with the Deutschlandlied abolished with the surrender of the Nazi government.

In May of 1952, the West’s Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and President Theodor Heuss readopted Das Lied der Deutschen with only the third stanza (Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit [Unity, Justice and Freedom]) from 1922 to be sung on official occasions (see also). The first stanza (Deutschland, Deutschland รผber alles) and the second (Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue [loyalty], deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang) are not outlawed but are nonetheless provocative and considered taboo to perform.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

wuchang clan

Under the pictured banner that would go on to become that of the People’s Revolutionary Army circa 1913 to 1928, the eponymous uprising that began on this day in 1911 in the Hubei capital city marked the beginning of the revolution that deposed the Qing dynasty. Originally designed by revolutionaries in exile in Japan, the “iron-blood flag” had eighteen stars, representing each of the imperial provinces at the time.

These actions and decisions ushered in the establishment of the Republic of China, the resentment and dissatisfaction of the people with ruling dynasty focused and galvanised by the government’s announced intentions to nationalise local railway development projects and cede, sell control to foreign investment banks, in part to generate capital to pay indemnities and reparations incurred from the Boxer Rebellion of 1901 to oust Christian missionaries and the earlier Opium Wars. Seizing advantage of the popular sentiment, the revolutionary forces stormed the viceroy’s residence, the regional plenipotentate of the emperor with oversight of military and civil affairs, who quickly fled the province and the united protesters established a provisional military government for Hubei and Hunan, quickly taking more ground and encouraging vast swaths of territory in central and southern China to secede and join their cause over the next two months.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020


patim, patam, patum: font specimens of Patufet, a typeface inspired by the Catalonian Tom Thumb 

ace of cups: Summer of Love all-female band that played the Avalon Ballroom and appeared with Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead release a new double-album 

leaf-peeping: Swiss fall foliage map 

franking privileges: Finnish studio mints climate change stamps with heat-reactive ink 

backyard safari: highly detailed journal documenting encounters with wildlife—via Nag on the Lake 

space 1999: scenes from the sets of the iconic British scifi series that ran from 1975 to 1977—via Messy Nessy Chic 

pacomobile: a modified VW snail camper—via Things magazine  

sฤƒlaj county: a brilliant assortment of flag redesigns for Romania’s forty-two regions to celebrate the country’s diversity 

 cannonball aderley: jazz record sleeves from Reagan Ray (see previously) feature the typography of the artists’ names—via Kottke

Thursday, 24 September 2020


The unique monotypic gymnosperm Welwitschia mirabilis, native to the deserts of Namibia and Angola was first taxonomically described according to European conventions by its namesake botanist Doktor Friedrich Welwitsch (*1806 – †1874, also credited with the discovery of the Rhipsalis baccifera, the only cactus that naturally occurs outside of the Americas).
Also going by the Afrikaans designation above meaning two-leaves-cannot-die, most of the plant is underground in the form of a taproot like trunk and sprouting a pair of leaves that branch off into smaller clusters and can thrive for millennia. Believed to be the missing link between coniferous plants and the true flowering variety (angiosperm), Weltwitschia are postulated to be the first to rely on insects for pollination and have become a national symbol, featured on the compartment of the coat of arms of Namibia along with the country’s motto.

Monday, 17 August 2020

a pound of cure

Via Super Punch we discover that the joint COVID-19 response and recovery mission of the US government (which is already oxymoronical without even finishing the thought) has created a mission patch for Operation Warp Speed, the public-private venture to fast-track and prioritise vaccines and other therapies against the virus.

The ten-billion-dollar project—which seems rather underfunded considering the toll that inaction has taken for hundreds of thousands of lives and untold livelihoods—could have most likely taken a different, more effective tac had the administration taken the threat more seriously to begin with rather than making the measures that could have controlled the outbreaks into another totem of American cultural wars, and putting forth an effort at least commiserate to that which went into making this logo. The Q is probably accidental, the result of attempting to merge the seals of the Department of Defence and the Department of Health and Human Services but we wouldn’t put it above the graphic design team to reference a conspiracy theory in their work.