Here, in the East, we are lucky to receive original works of art to commemorate our awards and honors, with the artwork, lettering and words created specifically for each recipient. (Please browse the Signet Gallery for some outstanding examples.) This is not true in every kingdom. In some parts of the Known World, mass-produced documents are personalized to some degree, or recipients receive nothing from the Crown and commission their own documents, or in a number of areas individual scrolls are created but the text is the same for every recipient of a given award.
A lot of effort goes into the process that results in the presentations and proclamations you see in Court – starting with the Royalty choosing to do an award or someone making a suggestion or writing a recommendation, the Royalty then make Their decisions (often with input from members of an award Order), and They work with Their staff (and sometimes the recipient’s loved ones) to schedule when and where the presentation will happen. When the Tyger Clerk of the Signet receives this information, they record what scrolls need to be created and assign the work to willing scribes. (For more information about this office, visit the Signet website.)
Once an assignment to create a scroll is accepted, the scribe uses all available information about the award and the recipient to create a special document, and begins to plan it. More than one College of Scribes volunteer may be involved, as it is very common for different people to create the wording, do the calligraphy, and decorate the piece. The scribe(s) uses their own paper or parchment, ink, paint, gold leaf and other needed materials; there is no reimbursement to them for these out-of-pocket expenses. There may also be considerable cost for packaging and postage, both to get a finished scroll to the proper people before it is needed, and to transfer a work-in-process from one participant to another. And, of course, there is the time each scribe spends to research, plan and create the scroll – for elaborate pieces, this can run to a hundred man-hours or more. Really.
Occasionally, circumstances may result in a scroll not being presented when an award is bestowed in Court. If it is not simply a rare logistical failure in getting a finished scroll into the right hands in time, a backlog scroll assignment is set-up, and the scroll is given to the recipient when it is finished. There have also been several cases where the College of Scribes has replaced scrolls lost in home fires and floods! There is a Backlog Deputy whose job it is to keep track of such needs, so anyone lacking a scroll for an award should submit a request to that officer; there is also a list of completed backlog scrolls for which recipients are being sought — perhaps you or someone you know is listed, and you can help a scroll get to its intended destination!
Please consider the use of the word “scribe” to mean whatever artisan is involved in creating the item which commemorates an award. It has become increasingly popular for items other than traditional “scrolls” to be presented; rune stones, embroideries, inscribed tools and weapons, carved drinking horns, stained glass panels, and many other treasures have been created for award recipients.
Our Society highly values courtesy, so it is only fitting that we thank the people who give their time and talent to create the gifts which accompany the honors our Royalty bestow. If you are lucky enough to receive such a gift, and the names of the people who created it are not with the item, the Office of the Tyger Clerk of the Signet keeps a record of every assignment – get in touch with that office to find out whom to thank and how to reach them, and…
Thank a Scribe!