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Maxwell, Anthony
Anthony Maxwell

Stylistic designer of 21st century heraldry

Born 17 January 1954, in Scarborough, Yorkshire;
Died: 16 January 2021, in Edinburgh.

Anthony Maxwell digitally brought heraldry alive in 21st century fashion, demonstrating how coats of arms could be applied to paper, wood, stone, glass, metals and textiles, and at considerably cheaper cost than conventional paint on vellum. “Brush and goo” was his brusque dismissal of the latter.

Anthony’s clients ranged from North America to the Antipodes. He rarely met any in person, working alone at home in Edinburgh on his computer. His infectious enthusiasm greatly encouraged many to heraldry, and his innovative approach to design created a new wave in heraldic psyche. Thus his output proved a vigorous cornucopia of colour, cross and creature. The frightening ferocity of his rampant lion might well include an eye with a ready twinkle.

His IT skills led to a ground-breaking use of 3D printing, through which he pioneered a way of producing a bonnet badge in silver at considerably less cost than traditional silversmithing – not that his innovation in any way reduced standards of artwork. This led to a major commission – the production of silver crozier for an Episcopal bishop in England.
His was constantly stimulating company, if more than occasionally exasperating. He possessed his ideas, and he’d interpret them in his own way. His depth of heraldic knowledge was profound, as was his knowledge of who was who. Nor was he afraid of effrontery. When he felt that the artwork of the arms used by a Scots duke deserved better, he simply picked phone and called him. His brashness paid off for both parties, for the updated ducal arms now dance with energy.
When his reference library required deepening, he was somewhat stymied by the fact that the 16th century Slains Roll he needed was in private hands and effectively inaccessible. He used his contacts, worked his charms, gained 55 subscribers at £100 a time, and privately published 55 facsimiles in 2006.

Yet Anthony was such a private person. We who thought we knew him actually hardly did, though we certainly were frequent recipients of his kindness in endless generosity of spirit and sheer artistry. His career included a commission as an army officer, being a computer programmer, dealing in diamonds, and of course as a heraldic artist. He was also a graduate in fine art of Buckinghamshire New University, training as a woodcarver. Those pieces of his which survive have become treasured, if not pricey.
I’ll miss him more than I can say. “Sir Gordon” he’d growl down the phone. “Sir Anthony”, I’d respond. No, don’t ask why on earth two grown men addressed each other in such schoolboy fashion. But we did.
He was no snob, for he dealt with everyone in the same manner. But as a master of the sardonic, he was no diplomat either, and could put backs up. Some two decades ago, sitting as a committee member of the Heraldry Society of Scotland and creator of the first Society website, he and his then colleagues spectacularly fell out, thus making him a distinctly Marmite character in the heraldic world. His growing body of fans however loved his work, the suites of arms he produced, and his clever heraldic email signatures in the style of Don Pottinger.

But even Anthony was pleasantly taken aback when asked to produce the arms of a heraldist on a large decal now decorating a historic carriage at a railway heritage centre in Wirksworth, Derbyshire.

Anthony could apply his talents to produce oddities for himself. Wanting a pair of dress trews in Maxwell tartan, he was appalled at prices quoted to him. “I’m only ever going to wear them once a year” he complained. So he sourced a textile printer, and had a length in cotton printed off in his tartan. Then arranged with a local seamstress to run them up for him.

His passing robs the heraldic world of a maddeningly infuriating and delighting craftsman, someone who created original and stylistic heraldry. Anthony leaves behind a huge body of work embellishing the lives of so many, capturing the essence of their lives in imaginative matriculations. His creations added panache to heraldic expression while never lacking dignity.

He enjoyed the company of long-time girlfriends, but never married. He died a day short of his 67th birthday after being diagnosed with Covid during treatment for throat cancer.

GORDON CASELY


The artwork of the badge in the image is a rendition of Anthony Maxwell.

2021 0118

dqw266@gmail.com
Mountbatten_1900.jpg morrow-lyon.jpg MAXWELL_clansman_badge_2.jpg Matikkala.jpg Massey0149.jpg
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