Ansteorra Scribal FAQs

About the College
What is the College of Scribes?
What does Star Signet do?
What does Sable Scroll do?

About Charters, Painting, and Supplies
What is a "charter?" What is an "achievement?"
How do I find my local scribal guild?
Is getting started expensive?
Where do I get blank charters to paint?
Can I make copies of blank charters so I do not have to go to my regional every time I need charters?
What kind of paint should I use to paint charters?
Where can I buy gouache?
Where can I find color pictures of the kingdom badges that appear on charters?
What do I do with charters when I have finished painting them?

About Original Works
Painting charters is fun, but I want to try designing something. Where do I start?
I want to design a new charter for the kingdom. Where do I find the right scroll texts?
I have a new charter design I would like to submit for use by the kingdom. How do I do that?
I am interested in original scrolls. Can I volunteer to help?

Other Questions
I never got a charter when I got my award. How do I get one?
I never got my peerage, nobility, or royalty scroll. How do I get one?
Where can I learn more?

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What is the College of Scribes?

The College of Scribes is the umbrella term used to describe all of the members of the scribal community. Star Signet, Sable Scroll, and the regional scribes are all officers of the College of Scribes. The College is pretty loosely and informally organized - local guild heads, guild members, charter painters, and anyone else who is participating in the scribal arts can be considered a "member" of the College. There are no requirements for membership in the College, and everyone is welcome to participate.

What does the Star Signet do?

The Star Signet is the head of the College of Scribes. Some of the duties of the Star Signet are:

  • Reporting quarterly to Star Principal Herald, who is the head of all heraldic activities in the Kingdom of Ansteorra. Star Signet's official duties in the College of heralds are outlined in the CoH Administrative Handbook
  • Approving new charter designs for use by the kingdom
  • Maintaining a set of masters for all the charters and distributing masters and blanks as appropriate
  • Appointing and supervising regional scribes and other deputies
  • Educating scribes about the Ansteorran scroll process, painting charters, creating original scrolls, and similar topics
  • Promoting the scribal arts in the kingdom
  • Encouraging new scribes
  • Assisting people who want to commission original scrolls
  • Answering questions like the ones on this page

What does the Sable Scroll do?

The Sable Scroll is the Crown's award scribe. Because of the nature of the close working relationship between the Sable Scroll and the Crown, each Crown chooses their own Sable Scroll. However, the Sable Scroll is not the Crown's personal scribe, and is not responsib le for invitations, "thanks you's," or prize scrolls for the Crown unless he or she chooses to be. Some of the duties of the Sable Scroll are:

  • Working closely with the crown on a weekly basis to find out what awards are to be presented at what events
  • Filling in names and dates on painted charters in a timely manner so that the Crown can present them in court to the award recipient
  • Assisting in the maintenance of a current and accurate Order of Precedence by reporting award recipients to the Zodiacus Herald (the precedence herald)
  • Fulfilling those duties outlined in the CoH Administrative Handbook.

The Sable Scroll may also be responsible for making sure that the completed scrolls get to the appropriate event on time, which might necessitate hand-delivering them to the event or to the Crown, or mailing or sending them via overnight courier to the ruling nobles who will be presenting the awards. This duty is sometimes handled by the Crown rather than by the Sable Scroll. The details of who is responsible for delivery of scrolls should be worked out between the Crown and the Sable Scroll at the beginning of each reign.

What is a "charter?" What is an "achievement?"

There are two types of scrolls in Ansteorra: charters and achievements.

A charter is usually a pre-printed, hand-painted scroll signed by the Crown. Everyone who receives an AoA-level or Grant-level award in the kingdom of Ansteorra should get a charter when they are called into court to receive their award. The same is true for most non-armigerous awards, with the notable exception of the Lion and a few newer awards that do not yet have charters.

An achievement is a scroll confirming your arms and Armorial Bearings as registered with Stellar Scroll. The Scroll is usually an original, personalized scroll with your device on it. You are entitled to a new achievement whenever you achieve a new rank (AoA, Grant, Peerage, Nobility, or Royalty). In most cases, if you want an achievement scroll, you must commission one directly from an available scribe. There is a pre-printed charter available for AoA-level achievement scrolls.

How do I find my local scribal guild?

Many local scribal groups are found on this page. You can also check your local newsletter for dates, times, and location of your local scribal meeting, or ask your Seneschal. If your group does not have a scribal guild, there's no reason why you can't start one! Your Seneschal, your Arts and Sciences Minister, your Regional Scribe or Star Signet can all give you advice about how to start a guild.

Is getting started expensive?

If you want to buy your own paints and brushes, getting started in charter painting can be pretty pricey. Fortunately, many groups have a scribal guild that will allow you to use their supplies. If you don't have a guild in your area, you can get together with a group of interested friends and split the price of paints and brushes amongst you. There are affordable paint options available at some art supply stores. Ask your local guild, Regional, or Star Signet which of the less-expensive supply options are worth considering.

Where do I get blank charters to paint?

If there's a local scribal guild in your group, you can get blank charters from the head of the guild, who gets them from your local Regional Scribe. You can also get blank charters from Star Signet, Regional Scribes, Regional Charter Deputies, or most guild heads. Contact info for these people can be found on the Contact Info page of this site, or in the back of the kingdom newsletter, the Black Star.

Can I make copies of the blank charters I have so that I don't have to go to my regional scribe every time I need charters?

Please do not make your own copies. The Regional Scribes and Regional Charter Deputies make their copies on special paper, at a quality printer/copier, from masters that have been very carefully checked for quality. We have taken great pains to ensure that the copies that are being made are of the highest quality, and if everyone made their own copies, the quality and consistency of our charters would suffer. Please see any of the kingdom scribal officers if you need blank charters to paint; they are more than willing to assist you however they can.

Note: Common problems with poor copies include speckled or streaked copy ink (on the side of or sometmes in the middle of, the scroll), or copy ink that is improperly set and rubs off when fingers are rubbed across it. These charters are unusable, no matter how nicely they are painted.

What kind of paint should I use to paint charters with?

We recommend, when starting out, that you use a kind of opaque watercolor paint called gouache. Gouache can be found in several different brand names, including Windsor & Newton, Schminke, and Holbein.

Where can I buy gouache?

It is easiest to find gouache in art supply stores (rather than craft stores, like Michael's). There are a variety of Art Supply stores online - a sampling can be found on the education page under the links. You can also check with your local guild or your Regional Scribe for recommendations for art supply stores in your area.

Where can I find color pictures of the kingdom badges that appear on charters?

Descriptions of the kingdom badges are provided in the Award Texts document. If you have any questions about the correct way to draw or paint Kingdom armory, contact your local or regional herald.

What do I do with my charters once I've finished painting them?

You can turn your charters in to the head of your local scribal guild, any regional scribe, the Star Signet, or the Sable Scroll. In the end, they will all go to Sable Scroll. Contact information for these people can be found on the Contact page of this site, or in the back of the kingdom newsletter, the Black Star. Please turn completed charters in regularly - hundreds of award scrolls are given out every reign, and the kingdom depends on wonderful volunteers like you for a steady supply of painted charters.

Painting charters is fun, but I want to try designing something. Where do I start?

There are many avenues for exploring, expanding, and utilizing your calligraphy and illumination skills. A great way to start is by volunteering to design invitations or prize scrolls for a local event. You can also try your hand at designing a charter for the kingdom. Please contact Star Signet for more information about kingdom charters.

I want to design a new charter for the kingdom. Where do I find the right scroll texts?

The award texts (along with a lot of other interesting and useful information about things like scroll sizes, award badges and insignia, and achievements) can be found in the Award Texts document.

You need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the .pdf file. Acrobat Reader can be downloaded for free from the Adobe website

I have a new charter design that I'd like to submit for use by the kingdom. How do I do that?

Send the following items to Star Signet:

  • Your full SCA name and your legal name
  • A black-and-white copy of your completed design (Clean and meeting the size requirements for the scroll for which you are designing).
  • A color copy of your historical source and/or a color copy of your design (this might be shared with charter painters as an example of the appropriate way to paint your design)
  • A note about the source that your design is based on, including the time period and country of the historical piece, and bibliographic information about the book in which you found that piece (author, title, publisher, date of publication, and page number)
  • A signed release allowing duplication and electronic publication of both the artwork and the calligraphy.

When you submit a design, Star Signet may contact you asking for permission to make minor changes, usually to improve the “paintability” of the design or the accuracy of Kingdom armory. Once the design is approved, Signet will make and distribute masters and blank charters to regional deputies and other scribes. Then, all the charter painters will rejoice at having something new and fun to paint.

I never got a charter when I got my award. How do I get one?

If you are missing a non-armigerous, armigerous, or grant-level charter, you can contact Golden Scroll for a replacement. For more information, refer to the Golden Scroll page.

I never got my peerage, nobility, or royalty scroll. How do I get one?

Currently, the best way to obtain a peerage, nobility, or royalty scroll is to commission one from an individual artist. If you need assistance in locating a scribe, you can contact the Star Signet. We'll do everything we can to help you find someone, but can't guarantee the availability of an artist.

I am interested in original scrolls. Can I volunteer to help?

Absolutely! Please contact the Star Signet for more information. Be aware that if the Signet is not already familiar with your work, he or she may ask to see it.

Where do I learn more?

  • Check out the Links page for some useful Internet resources.
  • Subscribe to an e-mail list (found on the education page, under links) where you can interact with your fellow calligraphers and illuminors
  • Go to the Contact Info page to find out how to get in touch with scribal officers.
  • Write to Star Signet with questions, comments, or complaints.