« Spruce Avenue Shuffle | Main | Caesar's salad »

Heraldic brain baffler

Mysterious coat of armsThis coat of arms was awarded in 2004. Can you figure out whose it is from the clues embedded in the design? When you're ready for the answer, Googling for the Latin motto should do the trick.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (42)

Since the Latin means 'all you need is love', I'm going to guess Sir Paul McCartney. Second choice: Ringo Starr, obviously, unless George Harrison was still alive in 2004.

Looking at it again before hitting Post, I notice that those are beetles (stag beetles, if that matters) on the blue part, which settles the main question, though which Beatle may still be arguable. Don't know what the bird with the recorder under its wing means, though.

Is there a prize?

It's not Macca (sorry about that, Doc Weevil's comment was concealed for a couple hours by an overaggressive spam filter). Think hard about what kind of bird it might be.


Could the bird be a house martin ? I think so.

Ergo, if half a bee therefore must half not be, the arms must belong to Paul Heaton, founder and lead singer of the mid 80's band The Housemartins !

Unless they belong to the dude who produced "all you need is love". What was his name ?? George .............???


Rats ! Andrew beat me to it - must type comments faster

Kevin Milligan:

I see a double-handed middle finger salute. Is this just a Rorschach thing that says more about me than George Martin, or is he really telling us all to, ah, go away?

Ben Capoeman:

My first thought was JBS Haldane, but he died in 1964. I've been waiting for a cover album of Beatles songs to be entitled "Inordinately Fond" but no one has taken me up on this.


I actually did get this one. I hate Paul McCartney.

So why the recorder under the marten's wing? Is it a visual pun, standing in for a tape recorder, since George Martin wasn't one of the actual performers of the music?

I suppose there are only 3 beetles instead of 4 because the shape of the space made it difficult to squeeze in a fourth, but if I were Ringo I might be feeling a bit left out.

And what's the horizontal thing between the beetles? It looks like a combination jigsaw-puzzle piece and tire track. Did someone run over the fourth bug with a car?

I've never been a big Beatles fan, so perhaps someone else can explain all the details.

Sorry, in my first paragraph I meant martin (the bird), not marten (something very like a weasel).

Warmongering Lunatic:

Yeah. Going from top to bottom, you get "The Martin recorder of the Beatles' All You Need Is Love."

Eric Grant:

The five lines across the middle are a music ... staff? You know, what you write the notes on. What the heck do you call them?

Five years of tuba and that's all I can offer.

Oh, did he introduce one of the Beatles to two others? Because reading the shield, I see two jigsaw puzzle pieces, one beatle on his own, who fits together, through music, with two others.


No, Mr. Grant. While the Beatles did dump Pete Best and hire Ringo because George Martin didn't like Pete (well, he didn't like any of them that much, but Pete really couldn't play), they had known Ringo for quite some time and were more or less looking for an excuse to hire him. They all knew each other before they met up with George Martin.

The significance of the three beetles, one bigger than the other two and set apart from them by a musical staff, remains hidden to me. Perhaps it really does mean that he thought nothing of Ringo and greatly admired John, but that doesn't strike me as George Martin's style.

I think Martin actually liked all the Beatles--remember, he originally hired them to EMI because he found their personalities attractive; he actually didn't have much use for the music at first. It was the band that sometimes had troubles with Martin, a man from a very different generation and class background (to say nothing of his formal music training).

A musical staff, yes, but I thought the five lines on the fess also looked like the neck of a guitar.

The heraldic badge that goes with this -- a zebra holding a crozier -- is similarly clever.


Eric: I think it's just heraldic convention. Heraldry is full of mutliple charges (like these beetles) separated by things (bands, for instance).

Why three rather than four, I don't quite know, unless the Court Herald wouldn't let him squish two in the bottom or three up top with only one below.

(Similarly, the bottom one is larger to fill the space better; purely an aesthetic issue, I wager.)

See, I knew doing medieval re-creation would come in handy.

a zebra holding a crozier

Abbey Rd. cover. Love it!

Totally didn't spot that. Awesome.


> Why three rather than four, I don't know

Was this because it was awarded when there were 3 Beatles alive? I'm stretching a bit, I suppose (shades of Apu explaining the U.S. flag with 47 stars, though there were only 3 living Beatles for quite a long time).

Was this because it was awarded when there were 3 Beatles alive?

That's the vaguely unconvincing official story. The "Paul Is Dead" crowd interprets it just as you would expect (they think the design is not only a tipoff but an embarrassingly blatant one).


Well, there's no question that Martin learned, and quickly, to like them all quite a lot, which is one reason why I find it hard to believe he'd misuse an occasion like this to insult Ringo. But in the very earliest days, he seems to have been businesslike, civil and decent, but not exactly sure how to take these guys. Can't say as I blame him, of course. They were young and awful foolish at the time, and he definitely wasn't.

Any idea what the medals are? They, and that circular banner with the Imperial slogan on it, may relate to the Order of the British Empire. Or to his knighthood?

And is that third, isolated beetle really bigger than the other two? And if so, does it represent Paul, as the major surviving talent? Or George, the survivor who got to stand in front of the rhythm section instead of in it?

The young Beatles weren't too foolish to start a recording career in Germany without any semblance of professional management, or to shift Pete Best out the door without 30 seconds of remorse when the occasion presented itself. As for Martin, I don't think a man who was on close-to-intimate terms with Spike Milligan, Peter Cook, and Dudley Moore would have had too much trouble adapting to the wit and high spirits of the Beatles.

As for the rest, you're probably overanalyzing, but I agree it's unlikely that Ringo's single loudest defender of all time would choose to slight him in such a manner.

Are the medals the ones that the band got and then Lennon returned?

I believe they wore them on the Sgt. Peppers cover as well.

Lennon returned his Member of the British Empire medal in 1969 with the following letter:

"Your Majesty, I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against COLD TURKEY slipping down the charts. With Love, John Lennon."

Yeah, you can't put other people's honours in your coat of arms even if you get along with them really well (or they send them back in a fit of prattery), it turns out. The medal on the left is the insignia of Martin's Knight Bachelor status (which makes him a "Sir"); the one on the right identifies him as a Commander of the British Empire.

I like the Sgt. Peppers option better. I'll delusionally stick with that.

James Kabala:

I suspect the blame for the three-beetle design probably lies with the heralds rather than with Martin. From what little I know of heraldry, heralds tend to be extreme sticklers for the rules; if there is some of kind of arcane rule against having four animals in a single shield or something like that, they would insist on enforcing it. (I should add that I have no idea whether there is such a rule or not, however.)
However clever the shield itself is, but the zebra holding the crozier (an ABBOT's crozier, to be precise) may be the cleverest thing ever. A Beatles cover album titled "Inordinately fond" may rank second.


Also, the Blue and White are the colors of Everton, Mr. McCartney's footie team of choice (based in Liverpool, and archrivals of the more glamorous and successful Liverpool Football Club).

I'm not sure that's how they picked the heraldic colors back in King Arthur's day, but you know what they say:

The English are crazy.

So what's that got to do with George Martin?


The three beetles is a clue !
Just like Paul walking out of step on Abby Road
Just like when you play I am the walrus backwards (turn me on dead man)

Paul really did die in the 60's !!!

Need more proof- compare the quality of Sir Paul's ( or whoever he is ) material pre and post Beatles break up!

M. Grégoire:

Doesn`t "Amore solum opus est" mean that "to love is the only work/project"? That seems quite different from the proposition that love is the only thing really necessary in life.

You're making a mistake trying to interpret it piecemeal. "Opus est" is an idiomatic Latin formation meaning that something is needed; the something, here amor, appears in the ablative. So the motto is properly read "One needs only love" or "All that is needed is love." Work doesn't figure into it.

Need more proof- compare the quality of Sir Paul's ( or whoever he is ) material pre and post Beatles break up!

Oh, so now we are all too good for "Say Say Say"?

In this article, Martin says the three Beatles symbolized the three living at the time. What's most shocking is that he doesn't get any of the royalties from the Beatles albums. Terrible, really.

I meant to add that they must have started designing it after he was knighted in 1996, because George died in 2001, three years before Martin was actually given the coat of arms.


> What's most shocking is that
> he doesn't get any of the
> royalties from the Beatles
> albums. Terrible, really.

Bet he got a piece of the America stuff in the 70's.

James Kabala:

I nearly made a well-meaning but clueless post along the same lines as M. Gregoire, but Mr. Cosh has shown that his Latin skills are superior to mine. Bravo and thanks for the clarification.

M. Grégoire:

Thanks for the explanation. I don`t remember learning the "opus esse" idiom, but I really shouldn`t have confused "amore" and "amare". I`ll have to review my Latin notes one of these days.

James Kabala:

I knew "amore" was an ablative noun; I had thought that the proper translation would have been "The work is only by love." Brief Internet research confirms that Colby is correct, however.

Karen Cosh:

The Arms of Sir George Martin, Kt., C.B.E.

Gioca al casino online e diventa uno dei grandi campioni che hanno cominciato la loro carriera scoprendo tutti i misteri dei giochi d’azzardo sul nostro sito di casinò in rete.

gioca al casino - http://www.quellefromage.com/


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 22, 2007 4:16 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Spruce Avenue Shuffle.

The next post in this blog is Caesar's salad.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35