This is intended as a guide to be given to Crowns, Coronets, Seneschals and other non-book heralds with simple guidelines about how to name awards and orders in a period way. For book heralds, of course, the current best sources are "Medieval Secular Order Names" by Juliana de Luna and "Registering an Order Name in the SCA" by Ursula Georges.
What's The Difference Between An Award And An Order?
Administratively, there isn't one. Heralds call them Order Names for our administrative purposes and I will do the same in this Guide because typing "award or order" gets annoying. There may be a difference in a particular Kingdom's culture, but that is not official. For example, some people think that an award can be given multiple times, but an order only once, but that is neither period practice nor written anywhere in law.
How To Build An Order Name
Each order name must have two things: (1) a designator from the list of designators approved by the College of Arms and (2) a substantive element that matches the way orders were named in period. [SENA NPN.1] A designator is necessary so that we can identify the item as an order name rather than as some other kind of name.
In the name "Order of the Silver Crescent," Order is the designator and Silver Crescent is the substantive element.
What Designators Can We Use?
The current (December 2015) list of approved designators is found in Appendix E of SENA, in the May 2013 Cover Letter and in the November 2014 Cover Letter. The approved designators are:
But What About Legion?
Legion is usable as a designator for household names. Unfortunately, it is no longer available for award/order names. [March 2010 Cover Letter]
Picking A Substantive Element
The substantive element of an order name has to follow period naming practices. Currently (December 2015), we can document the following patterns for naming orders:
Order of Heraldic Charge -- for example, Order of the Maunche
Order of Heraldic Color + Heraldic Charge - for example, Order of the Silver Crescent
Only heraldic tinctures and the ordinary names for the heraldic tinctures can be used. So "Order of the Blue Tyger" or "Order of the Tyger Azure" is fine. "Order of the Teal Tyger" or "Order of the Sapphire Tyger" is not.
Order of Physical Descriptive + Heraldic Charge -- for example, Order of the Crowned Ibex
This category is very limited. It has been allowed only for adjectives describing clear visual modifications to the heraldic charge -- thus, Crowned Ibex (period example) and Winged [charge] (SCA example).
Order of Two Heraldic Charges -- for example, Order of the Unicorn and Maiden
Order of Abstract Quality or Virtue -- for example, Order of Chivalry
Order of Saint's Name -- for example, Order of Saint Michael
For this pattern, one can also use pagan deities in place of saints. So, for example, Order of Artemis.
Order of Saint + Place name -- for example, Order of Saint George of Rougemont
Order of Saint's Object -- for example, Order of Saint Georges Shield
Order of Person's Name -- for example, Order of Bellina
This pattern allows orders to be named after the given name of the founder or inspiration. We have yet to document order names based on the surnames of people.
Order of the Piece of Armor/Clothing -- for example, Order of the Belt
Order of Place Name -- for example, Order of Loreto
Order of Duke/King of Place Name - for example, l'ordre du Duc de Bourgongne
But . . . This Name Doesn't Fit Your Patterns And It Is Registered!
There are a couple of reasons why a past registration is no guarantee that a similar name can be registered now. First, our body of research and heraldic knowledge changes over time. We find that things we thought were good period practice actually weren't. We also sometimes find that things we thought were not period can be documented after all. Second, the applicable heraldic rules change over time. Sometimes those rules changes make it easier to register certain things, sometimes they have the opposite effect. Third, a particular group may be able to take advantage of a rule that your group cannot for various reasons.
Do We Have To Use Real Saints?
The current (December 2015) SCA heraldry rules allow you to make up saints as long as the root name of the person is real.
For example, "the Company of Saint Kenrics Beard" is a registerable order name, even though there was not a real Saint Kenric because: (1) Kenric is a documentable period name; and (2) a beard is a documentable period heraldic charge.
You'll notice that there's no apostrophe in "Kenrics Beard." Whether or not an apostrophe + s is required to make something possessive depends on whether you are using the period form or relying on one of the rules that allows for use of modern English. Since this is intended as a "Simple Guide," this is one of the issues on which you should consult a names herald.
How To Figure Out Whether Something Is A Period Heraldic Charge
There is an SCA resource called the Pictorial Dictionary of Heraldry that can be very helpful. It includes citations and pictures of period forms of heraldic charges. Experienced heralds will also have access to period rolls of arms and armorials (collections of blazons or images).
Clearing Conflicts The Easy Way
Some order names are quite popular and have already been registered by other groups. However, the current (December 2015) heraldic rules allow a very simple way of clearing the conflict: adding the group name that is giving out the award. The Order of the Beacon of Carillion (registered 11/2012 LoAR) does not conflict with the Order of the Beacon of Endeweard (registered 9/2013 LoAR). [SENA NPN.3.C]