Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Arms of Portugal & a Cement Mixer

Big smile! As I mentioned on Facebook today, I just saw a bright yellow cement mixer with the arms of Portugal painted on its side, driving east on 59th Street in Manhattan. Here is the shield:

Photo by Douglas Kiddie

Here are the full arms:

Thanks to Jorge L. Rivera, III, for supplying this image and the following information:

First documented coat of arms dates from the eleventh century, during the time of Sancho I and Sancho II. That coat showed these same five blue escutcheons charged by silver dots. Ca. 1252, under Alfonso II, the shield was added with the red border and golden castles, as seen here.

From 1385-1816, elements were added until this coat of arms (above) was adopted in 1911. As you can see, it is based on the arms (especially the shield) in use since the eleventh century.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Brilliant Shields in St. Thomas Church

On Monday evening, 11/9, I was honored and pleased to present a program about the 16 heraldic shields that hang in Saint Thomas Church, 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue, Manhattan. They are the shields of America's World War I allies.

Here are a few of them:

Leo Belgicus, the Lion of the Kingdom of Belgium

New Zealand

and one of my favorites,

the Lesser Arms of Imperial Russia

If you would like to see all 16 shields in person, visit St. Thomas Church and look for the World War I Memorial on your left facing the altar, as you enter the church. If you would like more information about specific shields, please email me at

My deepest thanks to Douglas Kiddie for photographing all of the shields so beautifully.