Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Tag Heraldry

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What we're really talking about here is not heraldry, but armory - the design and description of armorial bearings such as shields and crests. However, that's what most people think of when you say "heraldry", so we'll go with that henceforthward.

Heraldry evolved from the need to be able to tell who was on your side in a war. Horses and armour all tend to look a bit the same, and when full-face PPE came into use, it got really difficult to tell if you were about to impale a friend or foe. The different teams therefore adopted different coloured shields and other decorations. But the full Pantone range was not available back then, so it became necessary to use different combinations of colours. As the warring industry picked up and more teams were formed, so the colour patterns got more complicated, and bells and whistles (like, say, pictures of lions) had to be added so you could tell who was who, and who wasn't.

Eventually, the monarchy stepped in and started regulating all these designs, to keep things orderly. And, at this point, it became necessary to develop a standard language for describing the patterns. There also developed a standard way of indicating achievements, victories, kinship and so forth - a sort of strict graphical shorthand. So, you end up with things like "Argent a Cross Gules in the first quarter a Sword in pale point upwards of the last; Crest On a Wreath of the Colours a Dragon's sinister Wing Argent charged on the underside with a Cross throughout Gules; Supported on either side a Dragon Argent charged on the undersides of the wings with a Cross throughout Gules." - gobbledygook to you and me, but a precise and concise description of the coat of arms of London.

Nowadays, there are simpler ways of identifying friends or foes in war, but there is still an arena in which graphical symbols are key parts of identity - I refer, of course, to graffiti and specifically tags, as I believe the young scallywags refer to them.

There is clearly an opportunity crying out to be missed, in formally describing tags in an unambiguous way. In this manner, tags can be registered and guaranteed unique and non-confuseable. Moreovermore, anyone encountering a new tag for the first time will be able to jot down a quick heraldic description of it ("Lime a Cross Gules in the third quarter a machine gun in verso; supported sinister and dexter by a J in script cursive; withal in a lozenge azure; crest a membrum virile erect with testicles twice.") for later identification.

As with conventional heraldry, tag heraldry can be expanded to codify achievements and attainments, as well as descent and pedigree as gangs split and merge.

MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 05 2018


       There is clearly scope to estasblish a College of Arms, where the actual arms - complete with scars, tats, finger rings, stolen Rolex, and bloodstains - can be preserved in formalin for future reference.
8th of 7, Mar 05 2018

       That's a good idea. If there's a few ml of formalin left over, it could house the College of Brains.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 05 2018

       Many years ago, when the Blair government was young, I heard this story of a New Labour apparatchik: running free in the unfamiliar surroundings of the Palace of Westminster, he answered a ringing phone. (You will remember that phones in those days belonged to places rather than people ... {cries of "Get on with it, Grandad!"})   

       Anyway, on picking up, he heard "Lion here!" Naturally assuming it was one of his friends fooling around, he answered "Tiger here!" It turns out that was a mistake; the voice on the phone belonged to a character entitled "The Lord Lyon King of Arms", who not only still existed, despite it not being the Middle Ages any more, but also expected people to know who he was.   

       I can picture Peter Mandelson trying to pitch exactly this idea to that man.
pertinax, Mar 05 2018

       // a few ml //   

       That sounds like recklessly lavish over-provision. A couple of drops should be more than enough.   

       What is the volume of a single neuron, anyway ? Not much.   

       Presumably the entire collection would be displayable on a single 75 x 26 glass microscope slide, including space for several more decades of further exhibits.   

       <pointless factoid>   

       In England, the only people other than the reigning Sovereign and their consort permitted (and expected) to wear true crowns (Peers of the Realm wear coronets, which are not the same) are the Kings of Arms of the College of Heralds.   

       Anyone else wearing a crown would be guilty of Usurpation and High Treason, for which the penalty is severe, including - in time of war - summary execution.   

       </pointless factoid>
8th of 7, Mar 05 2018

       Alternatively, graffiti vandals to be regulated and registered by Lord Tyger, who would mandate (on penalty of the usual criminal proceedings etc.) that their airbrushed tags should conform precicely to the established rules of heraldry.
pocmloc, Mar 06 2018

       It's not // the usual criminal proceedings // that should be of concern - it's the unusual and archaic criminal penalties.
8th of 7, Mar 06 2018

       Is that why Burger King is over here? Asylum from the UK? Is he just a Burger Duke there?
RayfordSteele, Mar 06 2018

       He's actually just a Burger Earl; the "King" was just a marketing tweak in order to avoid it sounding like "Bugger All" in a British accent.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 06 2018

       Surely he must be of Germanic ancestry, though. From Hamburg. Or the neighbouring town of Beefburg.
Ian Tindale, Mar 06 2018

       Or even the notoriously bland and unsatisfying VeggieBurg ...
8th of 7, Mar 06 2018


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