Discover the fascinating world of heraldry

March 10, 2023

Ralf Hartemink is an instructor at the Food Microbiology group. Outside his work, his great passion is heraldry. His collection of heraldic objects is one of the largest in the world. A small part of this collection is on view in Forum Library until 29 May 2023.


In short, heraldry is about letting people know who you are. Better formulated, heraldry is the practice of designing coats of arms and other symbols to identify individuals, families, cities, or even countries. It originated in medieval Europe as a way to distinguish knights in battle and evolved into a complex system of symbols, colours, and designs. 

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The exhibition shows an array of heraldic objects that focus on civic and municipal coats of arms. It shows how municipalities have used emblems and coats of arms on promotional or other material.

Special interest fields are also on display, such as the Coffee Hag albums. These collector's albums with heraldic stamps were published in the early 20th century by the Kaffee Handelsgesellschaft AG (Kaffee HAG, Coffee Hag) in Germany.

If you're interested in learning more about the complex language of heraldry, and the meaning behind the various symbols and colours used to create these unique emblems, then take a look at Heraldry of the world.

Ralf Hartemink

Ralf tells about his passion: 

" Ever since I was a small child, I've been fascinated with heraldry. And, from very early on, I only focused on civic heraldry, that is, coats of arms of cities, towns, and countries. My website on heraldry is now in a wiki format and is the largest Dutch wiki after, and the second or third-largest, private wiki in the world. My physical collection of civic heraldry items is by now the largest in the world with over 1250 books in over 50 languages and probably over 50,000 paper and other items. From small pins of 1 cm to metal signs of 15 kilos and flags of 3x5 meters. I'm always looking for new material, so contact me if you want to contribute to the collection!"