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Kalter Coat of Arms by Nick TruvorKalter Coat of Arms by Nick Truvor


I have always been fascinated by hieroglyphs, letters, seals, sigils, signs, symbols and coats of arms. My love for history, literature, mythology and other media also added to this fascination. It is again the process of putting a thought and/or an emotion into a graphic representation, or code, that can be decoded again. As I am a great fan of collages and all media displays "blending" different codes into one representation, I knew from my childhood days that, one day, I would have my own coat of arms. And yes, I do have a weakness for Robert Langdon and Peter Greenaway and some other "post-modern" achievements that seem playful and outdated by at least decades.

When you try to develop a coat of arms, you usually fall into (at least) two traps. First, you think you know a thing or two about heraldry, but then you don´t. And second, you clutter your design with a proud array of totally genius ideas, only to discover that it was all vanity, tales told by an idiot. I have fallen into both traps, „big time“, for quite some time.

In early 2016, I thought I had a viable design. Michael Richards from sunny Florida ( http://assumearms.com/ ) then cleared some fogs for me and that happy collaboration resulted in a version, that I used for some time. Michael did point out a number of problems, but, well, I didn´t listen. After some more time, I had to acknowledge that the version at that point could only be regarded as a first sketch and not as the finished product. Even more so as that design disregarded a number of heraldic rules.

I have since spent a lot of time thinking, mulling over and honing down the design to come up with the current, hopefully final, version in late 2018. Nick Truvor (Nikita Vuimin) from Russia ( https://www.deviantart.com/nicktruvor ) designed a fabulous rendition of my ideas, which you see here.

There are basically three main areas of scrutiny when you design a coat of arms. Family name, geographical provenance of your family and professional occupations prevalent in your family. With my family name being „Kalter“, let´s work our way backwards from the latter.

As there are a number of families in Germany calling themselves „Kalter“, my particular family´s branch originates from the Rhine-Mosel Rivers wine-producing area. Historically, my forebears worked in agrarian professions up to the late 19th century. After that, things get blurry, which means that basically every generation since worked in quite different professions. So, there´s no real lineage of similar jobs to draw on to define charges for a coat of arms.

My family, at least as the references have it so far, originates from the small settlement of Arzheim near Coblenz, which has since become part of that city. Coblenz is situated at the confluence of the rivers Rhine and Mosel. Not only because of this geographical localisation, but also because my father´s mother´s roots are in the Mosel region, it´s obvious to choose the two rivers as geographical coordinates for the coat of arms. However, a large number of coats of arms denote rivers by using „horizontal wavy lines“, which I found excessively boring. Instead, I decided to use a spiraling snail shell. In the design above this gives you a golden and a green spiral wave interlocking, thus denoting not only the two rivers but also a notion of family togetherness and joint evolution. Also, the Spiral is a symbol found almost everywhere. For me, it is really the symbol of symbols, the ultimate code signifying life and, possibly, evolvement. It is the DNA Helix as well as the Triskelion of Megalithic times.

The name „Kalter“ derives from the German word „keltern“, which means making wine, or, more correctly, harvesting, and especially pressing and storing wine. Professor Jürgen Udolph from Leipzig University did an expert assessment of my family´s name ( www.prof-udolph.com ). He confirmed the family name´s linguistic roots as well as the provenance from the Rhine-Mosel-Region. Thus, the bunch of grapes in the foreground at the shield´s base forms the symbolical bedrock of the coat of arms. Also, with the grapes being „counterchanged“ Or-Vert, they symbolically merge with the two rivers and echo the two colours of white wine and its foliage, which this region is particularly known for, during the year´s seasons. Please also note the spiral tendril at the grapes´ stem, which chimes in with the fluvial spiral metaphor.

Through time, my family has always looked beyond the daily chores towards general values. The Catholic Creed has played a very important role for the majority of my family´s existence in this regard. Beyond the three coat of arms definitions mentioned above, there´s a fourth possibility of charging, which is finding a symbol for a family´s common value- or self-defining-system. As a consequence, I had to incorporate a christian symbol into the design. Of course, the array of christian symbols is vast, but I wanted to find something not quite as blatant as a cross or lamb or dove. The Pilgrim´s Shell or Scallop is not only a symbol strongly employed in heraldry, but also signifies striving for an ideal through daily small paces. I felt that this would resonate with my ancestors´ beliefs quite well, especially with the values of modesty and industry.

However, I have to admit that this particular choice has a somewhat mischievous ambiguity on my part as well. The Latin word for pilgrim is „peregrinus“, and this relates quite nicely to the English „Peregrine“, which I use as a central part of my pseudonym. If you visualise this symbolical journey through the shield starting from the sinister birth of the golden spiral moving clockwise, you have a very bold quasi-calligraphical volte-face through the Kalters´ family history towards a „Peregrine“ endpoint, which is, admittedly, slightly self-referential, and purely my very own personal shortcoming.

Coats of arms, after all, are warriors´ logos historically. As the shield shows a relatively benign arrangement, I wanted something more aggressive for the crest. I toyed with various ideas, especially trying to incorporate some possible Kalter symbology, but wasn´t convinced by any of the ideas I had. To keep it simple and expressive, I chose the pointed bull´s horns, which by their curving nature echo the two rivers. Also, they have a golden inlay of irregular river- or snake-like lines curving upwards around the horns. I´m very fond of some works by Andy Goldsworthy and used this imagery to reflect the river and wine tendril movements from the shield. Also, all of these movements are watery in nature and thus make a natural habitat for the shell …

The motto is a short sequence taken from the Song of Solomon. As such, „Ad Montem Myrrhae“ aspires to higher ideals, but at the same time refers to love, which should be at the centre of every family. Also, it might have a slightly erotic undercurrent, which has nothing to do with family but everything with chivalry (or Kate Bush, coming to think of it). Quae est ista quae progreditur quasi aurora consurgens pulchra ut luna electa ut sol terribilis ut acies ordinata ?

Here´s the blazon:

Arms: Per fess voluted Vert and Or, in sinister chief an Escallop inverted Or and at nombril point a bunch of Grapes tendriled, all counterchanged.

Crest: Issuant from a Helm wreathed and mantled Vert doubled Or, a pair of pointed Bulls´ Horns Vert, each circled by a ribbon serpentined Or.

Motto: "Ad Montem Myrrhae"

Badge: On a Wine Leaf Vert stemmed and tendriled Or, in dexter a Wolf´s Head and in sinister a Peregrine Falcon´s Head contourné, both couped, both Or (Personal Badge of Markus Peter Christian Kalter, aka Morgan Jocelyn Osmélian Peregrine of Wolfin).

And in German:

Wappenschild: Mit Schnecke geteilt von Grün und Gold, unten eine Traube am Rebholz mit Ranke in verwechselten Farben, links oben eine gestürzte goldene Muschel.

Oberwappen: Auf dem Helm mit grün-goldenem Wulst und grün-goldenen Helmdecken zwei spitze grüne Büffelhörner, umwunden von je einem goldenen Band.

Wappenspruch: "Ad Montem Myrrhae"


  • 04.03.2019: Grand Duchy of Flandrensis, Flandrensian Roll of Arms


Once you have your coat of arms, you want to put it onto as many things as possible. T-Shirts, coffee mugs and, my favourite, on signposts beside your doorbells to irk the neighbours and impress the postwomen. But soon your craving goes beyond that. With the blazon being an abstract verbal description of your artwork with quasi-mathematical properties, you want to see how different heraldic artists interpret your concept. And here, the whole panoply of the art world opens up and you can have renderings as diverse and endlessly fascinating as there are talented artists with idiosyncratic and well-developed styles.

I have first seen works by Sivane Saray from Brussels a few years ago. To be quite open, at the time, I wasn´t sure what to think of them. Our modern gaze is accustomed to modern graphic techniques and interpretations, which show a lion in anatomically correct detail down to the last curl of his mane. But we have been living in a world shaped by five hundred years of scientific exploration and development. Our tastes today would be alien to a person from the Middle Ages. Old depictions of coats of arms mirror the quasi-mathematical guise of blazons in that they rather than physically correctly, transport an idealised image. It is more about the idea of a lion than about his correct physical depiction. You can see examples of this approach in the Zürich Armorial, which was made in the mid-14th century. This is even more true, when you go back further in time. Heraldry thus not only employs a quasi-mathematical way of being put into words, but also a penchant to show the part for the whole, the reduced graphical depiction instead of the detailed grand view.

I met examples of Sivane´s work again and again, and at some point I realised that I had fallen in love with his art and style. His style is always reduced, one hundred percent heraldicly correct and yet playful and elegant. The mantlings in his depictions can be lavish without being baroque; his colours can be vernally fresh, yet appear authentic and unobtrusively light. Like with all talented artists, you can perceive characteristic brushwork in his work, as in certain roundings, which are never fully round but always harbour an angular aspect as well. His art is thus, in my view, modern and ancient at the same time. And beautiful to behold.

Kalter Coat of Arms by Sivane Saray Kalter Coat of Arms by Sivane Saray

Kalter Coat of Arms by Ralf BurkertKalter Coat of Arms by Ralf Burkert

Registering your arms comes with its own challenges. The design has to be flawless in heraldic terms, and it has to play up to individual customs of the specific country and roll of arms. I enlisted the help of Ralf Burkert from Munich to navigate through these Scylla and Charybdis narrows. He is not only a very talented graphic designer, but has also acted as heraldic expert for arms registrations. His work marries modern approaches with olden guises. It blends realistic depictions and abstract characterisations, which are a hallmark of good heraldry. The results are graphically elegant and visually intriguing. You can find examples of his work here: https://www.illustrationen-wappen.de/

Here are two links which belong in this coat of arms category. Liam Devlin of The Heraldry Society of Scotland kindly disregarded the whimsical ideas incorporated in my coat of arms and had it displayed in the International Members´ Arms section of the Society´s website: http://heraldry-scotland.com/copgal/thumbnails.php?album=8  Thank you, Liam ! Also, I designed a tartan for myself using "my" colours and had it registered at The Scottish Register of Tartans: https://www.tartanregister.gov.uk/tartanDetails.aspx?ref=10809

Sealand Coat of Arms © Sealand College of Heraldry / Leanna McAlpine / Anthony SmithSealand Coat of Arms © Sealand College of Heraldry / Leanna McAlpine / Anthony Smith

Having a second coat of arms also is probably bad style. But I couldn´t resist having the Sealand College of Heraldry design a coat of arms for me that blends my legal with my assumed identity and still adheres to heraldic rules.

Here´s the description: "The arms of (...) Markus Kalter consist of 2 peregrine falcons to reference his pseudonym Morgan Peregrine. The blue at the base of the shield symbolises both the river Rhine and river Mosel tying together his ancestral heritage from both sides of his family. It is charged with grapes to reference the wine region of Koblenz from where his paternal ancestors originated. The crest displays a castle, referencing both his interest in British history and his support for the Dunans Castle Project in Scotland. The castle is charged with a Scottish flag referencing his strong ties to the country."

The blazon reads as: "Arms: Per chevron sable and azure a chevron argent, in chief two Peregrine falcons or and in base grapes or. Crest: Upon a Baron´s helm, mantled sable doubled Sealand fur, this crest: issuant from a Baron´s coronet a castle quadrangle and masoned proper and charged with a shield azure a saltire argent. Supporters: On the dexter side a sea-horse segreant argent finned vert. On the sinister side an eagle rising, wings addorsed & inverted or. Motto: `VENI VIDERE`, `E MARE LIBERTAS`; From the sea, freedom."

Peregrinus lycanthropusPeregrinus lycanthropus