Armorial Bookplates


My fondness for heraldry and history is no secret, nor is my affinity for art and family tradition. I became familiar with the tradition of bookplates not all that long ago, and especially armorial bookplates. Combining my interests in literature, history, heraldry, and art, I became an immediate fan. Also known as Ex Libris (Latin for “From the library of…”) Most of the available examples of armorial bookplates are from the Victorian era – coinciding with the resurgence in interest in family histories and heraldry, and running parallel with the British interests in Scottish clans, tartans, and families. Because of this popular resurgence, while an existing bookplate from this era would be undoubtedly from the mid 19th century, it may be tricky to determine whether or not the person it was made for was truly a descendant of the original armiger and allowed to bear those arms themselves. Some others, however, are truly unique and combine differenced or quartered arms with a mother’s family or a grandparent, which even if not officially on the roll of arms, makes for a very interesting and personal armorial insignia.

Harry Lee

Others, coming from members of the peerage, or well known famous persons, are harder to find, but easier to verify as being true heraldic achievements. There are also some beautiful armorials coming from the Georgian and Jacobean eras, as well as from the early 1900’s, before the tradition fell out of practice.

Armorial bookplates are quite a unique, interesting, and economical way to start a historical or artistic collection, and I myself have mad a few forays into the world of heraldic plates to appreciate the history, artwork, and tradition behind it, and to see where it might lead.

More info can be found here: Bookplates on Wikipedia

And here: at the Bookplate Society

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Rabble Wines Red Wine Blend

Rabble is a wine that I am not entirely familiar with. I will admit that the marketing caught my eye, utilizing augmented reality via their smartphone app to make their label come alive. It is a cool concept, but marketing aside, it is still a good wine.
Their “Red Wine” is, of course, a blend, and the fact that it is predominantly merlot is apparent from the first hint of aroma. Heavy on the dark fruits, and with a nose of alcohol, it certainly smells like a merlot, and at first sip it tastes like one too – full, rich, heavy, and deep, but without the dryness or tart finish that I have come to expect from some of the more tannin heavy wines. It softens as it progresses, and has a bit of a tart cherry taste at the end.
Overall a good red, with a decent price that is more than fair for what you get… and remember to download the app to help the label come alive.
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Review – Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve

The Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve has a deep amber gold color that reflects well on its title. It has a strong peaty aroma with notes of grain. sweet on the nose with a heavy, intense feel to it. It’s time in the wood is apparent, and noticable.

The first sips are sweet and strong on the outset, settling down as it flows. There are heavy flavors of peat that cut through the sweetness with a hint of vanilla. The finish is warm and soft, inviting another sip.

A splash of water softens the whisky significantly. There is more of a spice to the aroma, with hints of straw. The vanilla flavor is more apparent, smoothing out to a round caramel. This is an excellent scotch that can be enjoyed both neat, and with water.

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New Year, New Me?

Nah, I don’t think that I will be that cliché. Instead, I will keep trying to be the same old gentleman adventurer that I ever was, but I do acknowledge the continuous need for self improvement. If you’re not going somewhere with your life or your development, then you’re simply standing still.

Make sure to check out my twitter and Instagram accounts:

@gntlemanscholar – Instagram

@gntlemnScholar – Twitter

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Getting started in Investing

One of the activities that I enjoy quite a bit, in addition to bourbon, cigars, and wine, is investing. I have been interested in this topic for quite a while. My MBA had a finance concentration and capital management is a big part of what I do on a day to day basis. This past year has been extremely profitable in the stock market, and there are a lot of people asking about how they can get started investing. My primary advice would be to start with a 401(k) or similar program through your employer, and/or open an IRA (both the traditional and roth IRA’s have advantages and disadvantages depending on your tax situation) using these retirement strategies will save you on taxes immediately, no matter where you invest, or the market’s performance, and will serve you well later in life. All that being said, though, for people who want to get started in simply investing into their desired stock.

Well, starting off small, there are some brokerages that are offering free investment money in order to begin investing.

Stockpile is one brokerage that is interesting because it allows you to purchase partial or fractional shares of a stock (Amazon, for example, is over $1000 a share, but with stockpile you can buy $10 worth of Amazon) They also only have a $.99 commission fee, which is way less than most brokerages. They also have a lot of trading tools and teaching opportunities (their goal is to get more people to invest) The main reason that I mention them in this context, though, is because they have an offer out on Groupon to get $20 worth of stock for $10. Choose the stock or ETF you want to invest in, and even if you sell the next day, you’re making a 100% ROI. Here is a link: Groupon StockPile

I opened an account to get this deal and bought into a S&P 500 ETF. I may sell soon, or I may just hold it, since I am essentially making capital gains on leveraged money.

Another option is Robinhood – this is a mobile app based brokerage that offers free commissions (yes, free… which is pretty cool) but they also offer a free share of stock for people opening new accounts through a referral. I have an account with them as well. There is no minimum investment (most brokerages are around $500) and once again, commission free trades. My referral link is: Robinhood Free Stock Referral – the stock that you receive is random, and could be anything from $2.50 to $200 in value, but it is a free share of a company.

I wish I had opened my account through someone else’s referral, actually, because when I did, I didn’t have anything to show for it.

Both of these options are for folks that are just starting out and they have training and learning applications to help you get started. It isn’t much, but holding appreciating assets like this can be beneficial and help you start to understand investing more. You could sell at any point and then put those additional funds to use elsewhere, or, a better option in my opinion, invest them into dividend funds or real estate holding companies that pay you monthly or quarterly income to expand your gentlemanly and scholarly interests.

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Afghanistan Campaign Medal Watch Band

As many of you who know me might already be aware, I have taken steps to produce the next piece in my line of Campaign Medal Watch Bands designed for Veteran Professionals.

ACM watch strap image

I am extremely proud of this Afghanistan Campaign Medal watch band, as I am sourcing the materials through another veteran owned business, and I was able to get my Gentleman Ranker logo engraved on the buckle of the band. I am pleased with the result and hope that y’all like it too!

Afghanistan Campaign Medal Watch Band

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Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

008I would like to congratulate all of the graduating cadets from Britain’s Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. As these newly commissioned lieutenants step into their roles and take command of formations in the British Army they are continuing a proud tradition.

I would especially like to congratulate the three “Royal Cadets” who graduated: Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan, Prince Sebastien of Luxembourg, and Prince Wenzel of Liechtenstein. Far too often in this day and age people of wealthy or historical families simply choose to reject the idea of military service as somehow beneath them or simply not of any interest, and this is very sad. What better way to learn to lead your nation than by serving and leading in it’s military? I have heard it said that nobility is defined by one’s responsibilities, not by one’s privileges, and I could not agree more. Congratulations once again to these graduating Royal Cadets, because far too often those of the nobility forget what it truly means to be noble.

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Publishing on the go…

Like so many people these days, I find myself on the go far more often than I would probably like to be, and as such, my phone is never far from my hand. 

In light of these facts, I am giving some thought to trying to publish more from my phone rather than my computer. I promise the quality of my work will bot drop, and that publishing from my phone will not turn my articles and opinions into Twitter posts. 

I will play around with posting photos as well. Thanks, and hopefully this will help me produce more and varied content.

Gentleman Scholar

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Gentleman Ranker

“…Sings a Gentleman of England, cleanly bred, machinely crammed, and a trooper of the Empress, if you please…”
~Rudyard Kipling, Gentleman Rankers

Gentleman Ranker Logo

The fact that I served in the US Army and spent a significant portion of that career deployed overseas should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me or reads this blog. I have published posts in the past that have mentioned this, and others that have decried the idea that military service is no longer fashionable – more to the point (or, rather, an actionable objective) the military is no longer associated with what is fashionable, or glamorous. More often than not, military veterans are represented as vulgar, bearded, boisterous, and full of bravado rather than the determined, thoughtful, and skilled professionals that I know them to be. These days in order to show pride in one’s military service or combat experience, a veteran is limited to a t-shirt covered in skulls, or an oICM Imageperator hat with a Velcro flag on it. I wanted to change that.

I have started a brand called Gentleman Ranker to help give veteran professionals more options when it comes to showing their pride in service and experience. To begin, I designed a series of NATO watch bands in the colors of the Iraqi Campaign Medal – of which I, myself and many of my friends, are veterans.


Military service used to be quite fashionable – the first Airborne wings were solid silver and made by Tiffany’s & Company. Brooks Brothers started off tailoring officers’ uniforms in NYC in 1818. Burberry’s iconic Trench Coat was originally quite literally designed for WWI soldiers fighting in the trenches. I was looking for a way to bring that back – in a similar way that the British military does with their regimental ties, lapel pins, and formal traditions. Inspired by the British Guards Division NATO watch strap (noticeably worn by many people who never served in the British military, but also, and with more pride, by those in the Guards).

I am trying to achieve this with Gentleman Ranker. Our first offer is the Iraqi Campaign watch band, but hopefully soon, with the support of other veterans and military members who also want a more subtle, classy way to show their service, we can expand to other campaigns (I already have requests for the Afghan Campaign and the GWOT service/expeditionary) and other forms of apparel.

I have set up an Amazon storefront in order to start selling these, and hopefully there is enough of an interest to expand from there. Please see my link below to take a look.

Gentleman Ranker – Iraqi Campaign Watch Band

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Bird Dog Kentucky Bourbon

Bird Dog Kentucky Bourbon

This is a new bourbon for me – and since I like to try new things and maintain new experiences, that gives it an automatic plus in my book.

With Bird Dog, the color is a deep, soft amber in the bottle, but lightens up considerably to a spun gold or straw once it is poured.

The color is telling on the nose, with a sweet aroma of heavy grains and hay or straw, with a distinct note of sour mash.

The flavor is light, and airy, without a lot of the heavy molasses that is common with many straight Kentucky bourbons. There is a smooth, soft, grainy caramel flavor to Bird Dog, with some significant, but mild heat. The burn is certainly there on the finish, but not in any way unpleasant. Overall, very good.

The finish has a bit of a numbing tingle, with a lingering flavor of straw and soft caramel at the end. It leaves you wanting another sip to start the process all over again.

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