Advance Australia

Courtesy Stephen Basdeo, some “Victorian tat” produced in celebration of the golden jubilee in 1887:

Courtesy Stephen Basdeo.

I love the economic statistics and time zone chart. I was curious about the arms of “Australasia.”

Obviously there was no colony or dominion of “Australasia,” and I had never seen these arms before. They appear to consist of a ship, a sheep, a crossed shovel and pickaxe, and a wheat sheaf – presumably symbols representing major Australian industries – all between the arms of a cross charged with the five stars of the Southern Cross constellation. What exactly do they represent?

A little googling reveals that they are the “Advance Australia” arms, so called from the motto beneath the shield. They were never official, and thus exist in a number of variations. (As you can see, this one has the sheep in first quarter and the ship in the second, and an anchor in place of the pickaxe.) Apparently they were used by certain Australians in the late nineteenth century to express a desire for Australian union – recall that in 1887 Australia consisted of six separate colonies: Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania.

Some others:

Australian federation did take place in 1901. Presumably the “Advance Australia” arms remained the de facto arms of the new Commonwealth, before an official grant was made in 1908. 


As you can see, the new grant recycled the motto, but the shield was different: it

had a white background, with a red cross of Saint George, blue lines outside the cross, and a blue border containing six inescutcheons featuring a red chevron on white, representing the six states.


The Scottish Patriotic Association was vocally opposed to the shield’s design, noting that it should display the Union Jack to represent British and Irish settlers. 

This activism was successful, and in 1912 Australia got a new grant which it continues to use to this day.


Australia’s six states are more explicitly represented here. Clockwise from the top left, they are: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia, and South Australia. 


Although here is the full coat of arms of New South Wales, granted in 1906 and apparently inspired by the “Advance Australia” arms.

Speaking of Flags…

We were watching Season 2, Episode 10 of the 2015 television series Poldark, which is set in the fourth quarter of 1793. Dr. Dwight Enys, heartsick for a woman who has rejected him, has decided to enlist in the Royal Navy as a surgeon and fight against Revolutionary France. Here he is at the recruiting station.

The only problem is that the White Ensign and the Union Jack on display here are anachronistic: they are the versions employed after 1801, following Irish parliamentary union (itself partly a response to the revolutionary wars). (This is to say nothing about whether floor stand flags would be on display like this in Britain in the late eighteenth century.)

And this is a British show! I would expect this sort of mistake with Murdoch Mysteries, but not from the BBC. 

Here is the same error made closer to home – specifically, on a poster up at Reinhardt last year. Even the Betsy Ross flag dates from 1777 at the earliest. 

UPDATE: In Season 3, Episode 3 of Poldark, we see that the producers haven’t procured the correct version of the Royal Arms either. This appears on the wall behind George Warleggan as he acts as the local Justice of the Peace.

Yes, the image is rather blurry, but it clearly shows 1. England, 2. Scotland, and 3. Ireland, with the fourth quarter somewhat obscure. The arms of George III in 1794, however, looked like this.


That is, in the first quarter we have England impaling Scotland (for the parliamentary union of 1707), while in the second we have France, illustrating the king’s ancient claim to be the rightful ruler of that kingdom, which he only relinquished in 1801. The fourth quarter shows the Hanoverian territories on the continent. It would appear that the royal arms shown in Poldark are those of Queen Victoria.

Once again, I acknowledge my pedantry and wet-blanketness. But I still say that with a little extra effort, you can minimize such mistakes, and thus not alienate those audience members who might notice them. There are plenty of underemployed historians out there who would be happy to help out! I would add that while absolute accuracy might not matter all that much with eighteenth-century heraldry, it might be more important when depicting other times and places. Imagine a movie that showed, say, a Sioux encampment of teepees, each one with its own totem pole and/or inuksuk in front of it, to give an authentic “native” cast to the scene. Anyone with half a brain would be able to see that this represents an amalgamation of three quite distinct Native American cultures, and would be a major insult to the people in question. So if you get into the habit of thinking accurately anyway, it will help you avoid charges of insensitivity when the topic is politically significant.

The Royal Standard

I was watching the Queen’s Christmas message, which included a shot of the Royal Standard flying above Windsor Castle. The Royal Standard is a banner of the Royal Arms and signifies the Queen’s presence.

I was surprised to notice that the Irish quarter (bottom left) features a “lady harp” – that is, a harp whose pillar and arch take the form of a topless, winged female. I had heard that H.M. the Queen does not like this rendition, preferring instead the non-anthropomorphized Gaelic harp. Most current depictions of the Royal Arms feature such a harp.


Full Royal Arms (English version) from a document issued by the Lord Chamberlain’s Office.

The Irish quarter is simply Azure, a harp Or stringed Argent, so both the Gaelic harp and the lady harp follow the blazon – it’s merely an artistic preference which one is shown. Obviously, when it comes to her own heraldry, the Queen’s desires reign supreme – so it’s surprising that Royal Standard does not follow the Royal Arms. A little image-Googling indicates that the standard shown in the Christmas message is far from a one-off. 


Apparently the tabards of the heralds at the College of Arms also feature a lady harp – at least they did in 2006, when the photo above (of York Herald Henry Paston-Bedingfeld and Windsor Herald William Hunt) was taken at the annual Garter procession. 

Why do these lady-harp holdouts exist? It’s a mystery!

Loyalist Heraldry in Canada

A short article of mine has just appeared in The Loyalist Gazette. I reprint it here.

It stands to reason that Canadians of Loyalist descent would be well disposed towards heraldry, a symbol-system that both identifies and serves as a mark of honour from the Crown. Prior to 1988, Canadian persons or corporations wishing to receive a legitimate grant of arms would apply to the College of Arms in London (or, if especially Scottish, to the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh). The United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada certainly did: in 1972, it received a grant of arms through the College of Arms which is doubtlessly familiar to all UELAC members.1

It’s a beautiful composition, and its meaning is straightforward. On the shield, thirteen swords and one tomahawk, all extending outwards, surround a crown, neatly symbolizing Loyalists from the thirteen colonies, and their Indian allies, who defended the monarch against the American revolutionaries. The symbolism is repeated on the crest: a colonist’s arm and a native’s arm both hold up the eighteenth-century British flag under which the Loyalists fought.

Photo by the author.

The UELAC was also granted a badge, a secondary mark useful for when a full coat of arms might be a little too elaborate. The UELAC badge consists of a cypher of King George III (1760-1820), surrounded by a wreath of maple leaves and oak leaves. I was pleased to see the badge in use on a sign for a UEL cemetery in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, last summer. As John Ruch once noted in the Loyalist Gazette: “the Royal Crown, the old Union Banner, and the Royal Cypher of George III can be granted only with Her Majesty’s permission. To receive any one of these is regarded as an especial honour, but to be given three is very rare indeed.”2

Persistent lobbying by the Heraldry Society of Canada paid off in 1988 when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney arranged for the foundation of the Canadian Heraldic Authority as a Canadian alternative to the College of Arms or the Court of the Lord Lyon.3 Since the CHA is headquartered in Ottawa, and not in London, and since the fees it charges are much lower than those required by the College of Arms, heraldry has become a lot more accessible to Canadians, whether individuals or corporations. By any metric the CHA has been a great success, having granted or registered over three thousand different arms, flags, and badges to worthy citizens over the course of its 32-year history. A new and enthusiastic Chief Herald of Canada, Samy Khalid, took office in June 2020 and is set to continue this legacy.

Canadians of Loyalist descent are understandably interested in recognizing their heritage, and the three symbols established by the grant of arms to UELAC in 1972 have all made appearances in grants of arms from the CHA. The most obvious is Great Britain’s eighteenth-century flag, a combination of the Cross of St. George and St. Andrew’s Saltire, the product of the parliamentary union of England and Scotland that went into effect in 1707. Since this flag was modified in 1801 by the addition of St. Patrick’s saltire for Ireland, in recognition of the Irish parliamentary union which took place that year, the previous version is now historic, and used quite a lot by UELAC to honour those who fought under it, as a perusal of this magazine demonstrates. Settlements with Loyalist connections have also availed themselves heraldically of the flag. The Town of Gananoque, Ontario (arms granted 2000) displays it on the top left of its shield.

One of the lion supporters in the arms of the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake (granted 2013) also holds it:

Loyalist-founded towns can also have it included it as a canton on their flags, as do the Town of Picton (1989) and Village of Bath (1997), both in Ontario. This design makes for a handsome flag, in the mode of Ontario’s flag or the old Canadian Red Ensign.

Our second symbol, the royal cypher of King George III, is also definitely historic, as it represents the actual king whom the Loyalists fought for. The Anglican Church in St. Andrews, N.B., founded by Loyalists, received a cypher of “GR” (for “Georgius Rex”) on its coat of arms, granted in 2006.

Photo by the author.

But as far as I am aware this is the only CHA grant to include this mark. It would be nice to see more use made of it. One might say that it is a little too detailed, and purists claim that letters do not belong on coats of arms, but the cypher does help to rescue George III from the calumny heaped upon him by the U.S. Declaration of Independence. (It would have been great if George III had a royal personal badge parallel to Richard II’s White Hart, Edward IV’s rose-en-soleil, or Richard III’s boar. However, this essentially medieval custom was abandoned by the eighteenth century in favor of royal cyphers.)

Yet the Loyalists were not just fighting for a particular king, but kingship in general. Our third symbol, the royal crown, unambiguously represents the monarchy as a concept, and not just a particular monarch. Insofar as Canada is still a monarchy, however, that also presents us with a slight problem. The crown is not just historic, it is current, and used by many official agencies to represent the power they exercise on behalf of the ultimate guarantor of it. It is likely that significant overlap exists between descendants of Loyalists and supporters of Canada’s monarchy, but these are two separate things, and it is good to maintain a symbolic distinction between them. Furthermore, the royal crown, as an emblem, is not available to just anyone. Generally, the only people allowed to put it on their own coats of arms are Governors General. What’s a good Canadian Loyalist to do, if he wants to represent his heritage?


The answer: use one of the two Loyalist coronets devised in the early days of the Canadian Heraldic Authority. The great thing about a coronet is that it references a crown without actually being one. The coronets consist of alternating maple leaves and oak leaves, as suggested by the wreath surrounding the royal cypher in the UELAC badge. This is a great combination: since they’re both leaves, they’re graphically parallel to each other; furthermore, the oak leaf is royal, representing a political principle; it’s not ethnically “English” necessarily. It is true that the Loyalists themselves might not have recognized a maple leaf as symbolic of their new homeland, but the maple leaf was certainly in use by 1867 to represent Canada and has remained a preeminent national symbol ever since. Finally, the Queen’s permission is not required to use a Loyalist coronet – only proof of descent of the sort required by UELAC.

As a graphical mark it has several advantages. It can be shown in any color or combination of colors. It can be shown on the shield in two dimensions, or on the crest or supporters in three dimensions – and since it is circular, it can surround some other object. A separate “military” coronet (with pairs of crossed swords) is reserved for the descendants of those who actually fought for the king in the Revolution; otherwise, the “civilian” coronet can be used by individuals or corporations alike. Several Loyalist coronets may be seen in the grants of arms above. Others appear in the shield of the City of Quinte West, Ontario (1998):

On the supporters of the arms of Albert College in Belleville, Ontario (2017):

And on all three of the shield, supporters, and crest of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society of Shelburne, N.S. (2006):

Four examples of Loyalist coronets in personal arms may be seen on the shields of Robert Bengry (2011), Kenneth Calder (2000), David Dorward (2004), and Kawartha Branch member David Rumball (2002). This is only a small sample of the many Loyalist coronets that the CHA has granted to Canadians of Loyalist descent.

One more heraldic symbol may be mentioned. As you can see on the arms of Gananoque above, Loyalist-founded settlements can sometimes depict actual Loyalists as their supporters. Gananoque’s is designated “a Loyalist woman tempore 1784.” The Village of Bath and Loyalist Township (formed from the amalgamation of Bath, Amherst Island, and Ernestown in 1999) both show a “woman habited as a Loyalist settler” and a “man habited in the uniform of the Jessup’s Loyal Rangers tempore 1784.” (Loyalist coronets and the 1707 Union Flag may also be seen in these grants.)

The problem with human supporters, however, is that they come with a very high opportunity cost. Any person depicted automatically excludes everyone else! Thus does the CHA tend to discourage them, although there can be no doubt, in these cases, whom they are supposed to represent.

Anyone interested in the possibility of a grant of arms (with or without any Loyalist symbolism) should contact the Chief Herald of Canada at Rideau Hall, 1 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1, or by email at

Except where noted, all illustrations are from the Online Register of Arms, Flags, and Badges of Canada. Used by permission.


1. See Conrad Swan, “The Armorial Bearings of The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada,” The Loyalist Gazette 10.2 (Autumn 1972).

2. John E. Ruch, “The Canadian Heraldic Authority and the Loyalists,” The Loyalist Gazette 28.2 (Autumn 1990).

3. See John E. Ruch, “An Heraldic Authority for Canada,” The Loyalist Gazette 26.2 (Autumn 1988).

The Hearts of Reformers


A well-known symbol of Lutheranism is the so-called Luther Rose, which features a black cross on a red heart at the center. It was devised for Luther in 1530 and features multivalent symbolism. Luther claimed that:

my seal is a symbol of my theology. The first should be a black cross in a heart, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us. Although it is indeed a black cross, which mortifies and which should also cause pain, it leaves the heart in its natural color. Such a heart should stand in the middle of a white rose, to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. Such a rose should stand in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in spirit and faith is a beginning of the heavenly future joy, which begins already, but is grasped in hope, not yet revealed. And around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that such blessedness in Heaven lasts forever and has no end. 

“I wonder what symbol Calvin used?” I mused to my wife at dinner last night. “Probably a tulip,” she replied with eminent good sense. TULIP, of course, is an acronym for the five points of Calvinist theology, viz:

Total depravity
Unconditional election
Limited atonement
Irresistible grace
Perseverance of the saints

The problem is that this acronym doesn’t work in French or Latin, the two languages that Calvin operated in. Plus, the tulip may not have been introduced into Europe before Calvin’s death in 1564. 

Instead, as it turns out, Calvin did not use a flower, but a heart, held in a hand, illustrating the motto “Cor meum tibi offero, Domine, prompte et sincere,” that is, “My heart I offer to you, O Lord, promptly and sincerely.” 

The Josh Link

I’m not sure who drew this but I found it at The Josh Link

Calvin University.

This seventeenth-century medal was struck in memory of Calvin, and the image can be found at the Calvin University (Grand Rapids) website

Calvin University.

Calvin University itself uses a version of the emblem and motto. 

The more you know! Personal emblems, especially if properly heraldic, ought to make a comeback.

Some State Flags and Logos

Most states in the United States have seals depicting a composite or symbolic scene. Many states then proceed to use these seals as the basis of their flags. A good example would be the state of Minnesota:

Manifest Destiny for the win! Wikipedia.

But you call that a flag?! Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, more than half of all the states in the Union have flags of this nature. I need hardly point out that this is poor flag design. A flag should not be ornate – it should be simple and recognizable. If it is, a useful side effect is that it can inspire any number of logos based on it, all of which instantly suggest the state in question. What happy states are these!


Nashville Predators NHL team shoulder patch.

Tennessee Titans NFL team. Wikipedia.

1. The Tennessee flag features three stars in a circle. This beautiful and simple device has inspired a number of logos.


Baltimore Ravens NFL team logo. My Logo Pictures.


2. The Maryland flag is very distinctive, featuring the quartered Calvert-Crossland arms, which appear all over the place in that state. 


3. South Carolina is instantly recognizable by its palmetto and crescent, which appear in many things associated with the state. 


4. Then there’s the three pillars and an arch of the state of Georgia. People don’t make nearly as much use of this as they ought to.


Arizona Coyotes NHL team secondary logo.

5. Arizona’s starburst is very distinctive and has inspired a number of logos. 


Dallas Cowboys NFL team logo. Wikipedia.

Houston Texans NFL team logo. Wikipedia.

6. Texas is the Lone Star state, which makes Texan logos all too easy.


Columbus Blue Jackets NHL team logo. Wikipedia.

7. Another flag that deserves more use is that of Ohio, the only one in the Union that is not rectangular. 


Bear Flag Museum.

8. California’s bear and star make for a nice combination.


9. Some folks like Rhode Island’s anchor, which is adaptable for all sorts of situations.


10. New Mexico’s flag, featuring the red sun symbol of the Zia people, can be employed to a certain effect. 


11. Indiana’s torch and stars device enjoys a certain popularity.


Colorado Rockies NHL team logo. Wikipedia.

12. Finally, there’s the stylized “C” of Colorado’s flag. This design dates from 1911 and seems quite ahead of its time.

Of course, many states still have recognizable logos or images, even though their flags aren’t that well designed. Wyoming and Pennsylvania (the Keystone State) come to mind:


“Bucking Horse and Rider,” a registered trademark of the state of Wyoming. Wikipedia.


And as the logos reproduced above for Indiana and Arizona show, a state’s outline provides a ready-made image for the state in question. Americans love these jigsaw-puzzle pieces. I think what makes American state outlines so memorable is the combination of straight with squiggly lines. Whereas it would take effort to distinguish between the shapes of (say) Staffordshire and Wiltshire, apart from Hawaii all US states have at least one straight border, “anchoring” their shapes so to speak in one’s memory (although the shapes of Colorado and Wyoming, both square quadrilaterals, suffer the opposite problem).

But the fact remains that the overall standard for US state flags is rather low.

University of Wyoming Athletics logo. Wikipedia.

UPDATE: You could read Wyoming’s bucking horse rider as either male or female, but the rendition above looks male to me, and I would be not be against inventing a variant that presents as female, perhaps through the addition of a ponytail. I’m surprised that the University of Wyoming, whose teams are the “Cowboys” and “Cowgirls,” does not do this already. Governmental usage could then alternate between the two renditions, which would be especially appropriate for the Equality State

And now, the Griffin

From Rebel News (Toronto):

A police department in Iowa is accepting submissions to change its logo because it allegedly “heavily resembles the KKK dragon.”

The Waterloo Police Griffin logo was adopted in 1964, and reportedly “leaves many citizens and residents feeling uncomfortable and distrustful when dealing with the Waterloo Police Department.”

The City’s Commission on Human Rights has launched a petition calling for the unreserved retirement of the eagle-lion mythical hybrid Griffin by tying it to the history of the KKK through its dragon logo:

“Although Black Americans have typically been the Klan’s primary target, it also has attacked Jews, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community and, until recently, Catholics.

“In addition, the undersigned absolutely resist any alteration of the Griffin and remain committed to organize until any trace of this Griffin is removed from any active paraphernalia utilized by Waterloo law enforcement.”

Griffins and dragons do share a superficial resemblance, in that both have wings and neither exist.


Here is an image of the Waterloo Police Department shoulder flash, taken from Wikipedia. The Department’s website says that:

In 1964 Former Police Chief Robert Wright conducted research in an effort to devise a patch to replace the old triangular patch that displayed only the lettering “Waterloo Police Department”. Chief Wright wanted to find a patch that would be unique and symbolic of police work.

During his search, Chief Wright came across the Griffin, an animal with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. The Griffin is a Greek Mythological animal symbolizing vigilance, which means to act as a guardian to our priceless possessions.

Chief Wright enlisted the aid of Waterloo Daily Courier Artist Jack Bender in designing the patch to include the Griffin. The design was a bright gold background to set off a green eyed red Griffin with black lettering and border. That same patch has been part of the Waterloo Police Department uniform ever since.

I had never heard of the KKK Dragon but apparently the original iteration of that loathsome group really did have a dragon banner:

Flags of the World.

Flags of the World claims that “in the Klan’s Prescripts of 1867 the official banner of the KKK was carefully described. It was a triangular shaped flag (3×5 feet). It was made of yellow material with a red scalloped border about three inches in width. A black European flying dragon (dracovolans) was hand-painted on it along with the motto Quod Semper, Quod Ubique, Quod Ab Omnibus in Latin. (What always, what everywhere, what by all is held to be true.)”

My comments:

• There does seem to be a disquieting graphical similarity between the KKK banner and the Waterloo police badge, largely due to the gold background and the heraldic pose of the animal (“passant” in the lingo). It’s true that dragons and griffins are different animals, but they appear similar here.

• But I do hope that dragons (and/or griffins) have not been canceled, even passant creatures on a gold field. I would say the same thing about the fleur-de-lys, the mounted knight, and the Thor’s Hammer. If extremists decide to appropriate some symbol, the proper response is to take it back! Not allow them to ruin it for all time. 

• And does anyone really know about the dragon pennant? Hooded robes, burning crosses, and that blood-drop cross are all much better known symbols of the KKK. It seems a little pedantic to bring up this rather obscure item.

• It’s a shame that something so striking and unique should come under attack. One hopes that any secondary patch (which is what the department is soliciting) will be just as striking, although some of the proposals thus far aren’t very promising…

Murdoch Mysteries

I was pleased to note a historically accurate Canadian red ensign flag in Season 11, Episode 16 of the Canadian television series Murdoch Mysteries, in contrast to an earlier appearance. The plot of this episode (“Game of Kings”) revolves around an international chess tournament taking place in Toronto in 1905. The players’ nationalities are represented by little tabletop flags. 

Constable George Crabtree has gone undercover as a Canadian entrant. His flag shows the original four-provinces shield devised for the Dominion of Canada in 1868, featuring the arms of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. It is true that Canada had nine provinces by 1905 (Alberta and Saskatchewan had been admitted on September 1 of that year, and Crabtree makes a reference to this in Episode 13 when, thinking he’s dying, exclaims “I’ll never see Egypt or any of those new provinces we have now!”). A nine-quartered shield for Canada was devised in the wake of this, but the original shield was still in widespread use until 1921. 

An American competitor is represented by a US flag with 45 stars on the canton (count them!), for the number of states in the union at the time – Utah having been admitted in 1896. Oklahoma (1908), Arizona (1912) and New Mexico (1912) would soon raise the total to 48.

Poland did not exist as an independent country in 1905, but a Polish player has entered the tournament and is represented by the flag of the Polish National Government 1863-64, which had been proclaimed following the January Uprising (although the bottom stripe, according to Wikipedia, should be blue).


The coat of arms is for “a proposed Polish–Lithuanian–Ruthenian Commonwealth which never came into being. It consists of the Polish White Eagle, the Lithuanian Pahonia and the Ruthenian Archangel Michael.”


Other Polish references in this episode include the Szczerbiec (the traditional Polish coronation sword) and the Husaria (Polish knights who wore decorative wings while mounted). 

Heraldic Seal for Dartmouth – A Proposal

Earlier this summer I wrote a letter to the president of Dartmouth College, which I reproduce below, with added links. (No reply as of yet.)


Dear Sir,

When I was a student at Dartmouth in the early 1990s, some Indian figures remained in the official symbolism of the College, most notably on the Dartmouth seal, the Dartmouth shield, and the Baker Library weathervane. Two years ago, the College deprecated the shield in favor of the new “D-Pine” logo, and I heard the announcement this week that the Baker weathervane is to be taken down as soon as possible.

That leaves the seal:

Please know that I am not writing to defend it. There are, indeed, a number of problems with it. Like the Dartmouth shield, the seal depicts Native people being drawn out of the woods to receive the light of the Gospel, or at the very least a European-style education. Such a scene now strikes us as offensive, and in fact was all false propaganda to begin with, being an aspect of Eleazar Wheelock’s PR efforts to keep donations coming. Wheelock designed a seal of Dartmouth College that specifically references the seal of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, a missionary society founded in 1701 in London:

Similarities between the Dartmouth seal and the SPG seal include the natives on the one side, the larger European technology on the other, writing in the air, and an irradiated object over the whole thing.

The Dartmouth seal is also religious in other ways. One of the supporters carries a Christian cross:

And the Hebrew at the top reads “El Shaddai,” meaning “God Almighty”:

Note that it’s on a triangle, referencing the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity (as though to say: “We know Hebrew! But please don’t confuse us with the original Hebrews.”)

Such details are not appropriate for a secular college.

I do not know if there has been a movement on campus against the Dartmouth seal. Given recent trends I can certainly understand if people might want to devise a new seal that accurately reflects Dartmouth’s history and is more in accord with its current values. If it is to be changed, allow me to propose that Dartmouth adopt a seal featuring a properly heraldic coat of arms. An example might look like this:

When well-designed, a heraldic shield is simple and recognizable, and neatly encapsulates an organization’s identity. In this case, the coat of arms says “I am an academic foundation (building, books) named after the Earl of Dartmouth (stag’s head) and located in rural New Hampshire (also stag’s head)” – with no references to Natives or Christianity. Heraldry places a university in a long tradition stretching back to the thirteenth century and suggests that it is dignified and deserves to be taken seriously. One does not need to use a coat of arms on a daily basis to express one’s identity (the D-Pine logo, as far as I’m concerned, does this quite well), but it is nice to have a coat of arms should the need arise – for instance, on those occasions when all the Ivy League coats of arms are displayed together.

I repeat that I am unfamiliar with the campus climate. I do not know whether anyone has said anything about the seal. I can understand why people might want it changed, but I can also understand why they might want to retain it too, for historic or sentimental reasons. If it is to be deprecated, however, please consider replacing it with an appropriate, well-designed, and dignified coat of arms.


Jonathan Good ’94

National Logos

Note: This post was originally published in July. When I corrected an error that I noticed, WordPress somehow considered it a new post, thus its appearance here. 

Two examples of national-level rebranding have been recently announced. I thought that one was decidedly better than the other. 

1. In Australia, something called the Nation Brand Advisory Council has urged the adoption of a logo featuring a stylized wattle, Australia’s national flower, with “AU” superimposed over it. 

Brand New.

Other variants of this logo may be seen at Brand New, where we also read the Council’s statement:

We love our kangaroo – it is currently the most internationally recognized shortcut to Australia. But we considered whether it would shift perception of our nation, or simply reinforce what people already knew about us.

Further, to adopt a kangaroo as our national symbol would require agreement on a new single ‘roo’ (by all agencies currently using kangaroos) as dual-branding situations of multiple kangaroos sitting side by side will not work. Therefore, with consideration for the mark to co-exist with existing national symbols, this led to a recommendation against the kangaroo.

New Brand Mark: The council’s preference for the Nation Brand mark was the wattle – it’s our national flower and while not immediately recognizable internationally, it will become so over time.

Our proposed Nation Brand mark balances a literal and abstract interpretation of a wattle flower. It’s an optimistic burst of gold positivity. Co-created with our indigenous design partners Balarinji, the mark is embedded with a cultural richness and graphic voice that speaks distinctively of Australia.  

I don’t really know what’s going on here. What body is this new wattle mark supposed to represent, exactly? Is the idea that it will replace the kangaroo eventually as a top-level national “brand” for all things Australian?; Wikipedia.

Here are two such kangaroo logos, one for the Australian Made Campaign, the other for sports fans. The rendition on the left seems somewhat dated (like it’s representing a brand of tennis shoe c. 1985), and obviously boxing is appropriate for sports but not necessarily for trade. But it would be easy enough to come up with a new kangaroo logo, methinks, which would probably be more appealing than the proposed wattle. I like plants, but animals have personality. Moreover, this particular wattle looks like a “complex data visualization” or the results of a particle accelerator experiment – or even a coronavirus! (I also wonder if it isn’t Australia’s equivalent of favoring the protea over the springbok – the idea being that the kangaroo represents the bad old days?) 


A better rendition of the flower can be seen in the Golden Wattle Flag, one in a long list of proposed Australian flags. The seven petals (representing the six states plus the Northern Territory) form a seven-pointed Commonwealth Star, familiar from the current flag and from the crest in the national coat of arms. If a wattle is absolutely required, this one is probably a better choice!

2. The Icelandic Football Association (Knattspyrnusamband Íslands) has unveiled a new logo. Previously it was this, which was used both by the Association itself and by the national teams:

I like the stylized rendition of Iceland’s flag, but sports teams don’t actually need allusions to the sport itself in their logos. Thus I like the KSI’s new, ball-less wordmark it adopted earlier this year, and I especially like the logo it has just prescribed for its teams:

Brand New.

This is perhaps a little too complex for a team logo, but it is certainly aesthetically appealing in its way, and is most appropriate to Iceland: it’s a stylized rendition of the four supporters that surround Iceland’s coat of arms.


At first glance these supporters are the four living beings of Revelation 4:7, later used to identify the authors of the each of four gospels, but note that the coat of arms has a dragon instead of St. Mark’s lion. That is because the four supporters are in fact the (pagan) Landvættir, i.e. the four traditional protectors of Iceland. According to Wikipedia:

The bull (Griðungur) is the protector of northwestern Iceland, the eagle or griffin (Gammur) protects northeastern Iceland, the dragon (Dreki) protects the southeastern part, and the rock-giant (Bergrisi) is the protector of southwestern Iceland. 

One small problem with the logo is noted by an Icelandic-expert friend, who comments:

I love this new logo, though they’ve got the wights out of order. The only one that is appropriately placed is dreki – the rest don’t map onto the areas that they are supposed to protect.

A good point, but forgivable, I think, if it means that the Landvættir can all fit together in such an awesome way. Well done, Iceland!