An Tir Internal Letter of Intent

Free to all persons willing to comment on a regular basis

Commentary due on this letter at the March 14 1996 meeting

This letter is also available by subscription for $12.00 U.S./year


December 23rd 1996

Unto the College of Heralds of the Kingdom of An Tir, and all who read these words, GREETINGS from Ciaran Cluana Ferta, Lion's Blood Herald. I hope you have all enjoyed the holidays, I know Santa Claus was very good to me. Right off, I want to thank Spakbjorn de Olnei for his time and effort in getting out the Internal Letter. He has volunteered his computer and scanner to issue these letters and I am grateful for the use.

I have been asked by a couple of heralds whether it is all right to ask about things that they don't know in the text of their comments. I intend to continue to address questions that come up in commentary (as my predecessors have done), so please feel free to use your comments as a sounding board and learning tool. I usually learn something every month and you might, too. We're all at different levels of knowledge, so really the only bad questions are those not asked.

-- Comments on this letter are due no later than Friday, March 14th, and the decisions on these items will be made on Sunday, March 16th, which meeting will be at the home of Black Lion (Torric Inn Bjorn).

-- Comments on the December 1st letter must be received by Friday, February 14th, to be considered at the Sunday, February 16th Lion's Blood meeting which will be held at the Rose Valley Grange (the same site as River's Bend's Irish Mid-Winter Feast (being held the day before.) See the Crier for directions.

23 December 1996

Unto the An Tir College of Heralds does Dame Zenobia Naphtali, Lions Blood Herald to the Kingdom of An Tir, send greetings!

Pat Ourselves on the Back, Part III: A little bird (well, O.K., a big shrub :-) just told me on the phone that we had no returns at Laurel in the month of December, so here is the submissions acceptance rate for the past six months. These months (July through December) were the first six months of the current Laurel's tenure.

We should all be happy to find that we have an acceptance rate of 91.3% (105/115 submissions.) I've always thought that the ideal acceptance rate is between 85% and 95%. Greater than 85% means we give accurate advice to our submitters and do not waste their time by sending on unacceptable submissions to Laurel. Less than 95% means that we managed to avoid being too strict, and are probably not returning submissions in-Kingdom that would pass at Laurel. Thanks to all those commenters who gave such good advice to our submitters!

Old Submissions

Here are the results of the December 14 1996 Kingdom Heraldry meeting. Thanks to those who wrote a letter of comment (boldface), contributed in a commenting group or attended the meeting: Elisabeth de Rossignol, David of Moffat (Electrum), Dair MacTaggart, Hlutwig Ster, Marc le Truver, Konig, Natasha Orionova Zateeva (Be Wayre), Lescelyn of Kailzie, Kateryn of Falconkeep, Aodh an Deoradhan (Fire Mountain Keep), Arwen MacDougall Lioncourt (L–wenmahne), Frederic Badger (Red Tree), Eglantyne Merryweather (River's Bend), Catrin Dafydd, Ciaran Cluana Ferta (Black Stag), Torric inn Bjorn (Black Lion) and Ofelia della Crusca.

The following submissions were forwarded to Laurel in the December 1996 Letter of Intent:

Adriana the Fierce (new/badge) (Fieldless) In saltire a stag's attire and a unicorn 's horn sable.

A suggestion was made that the unicorn's horn is difficult to distinguish in type, which it is intrinsically -- but it is an allowable charge and is drawn correctly here.

Benjamin Hardcastle (new/name, device) Azure a saltire purpure fimbriated Or overall a castle argent.

Benjamin is a given name which was used in England early enough to give rise to a patronymic surname in 1166 (Roger Benjamin, Reaney's DES p.39). Withycombe p.47 says this name came into general use in England after the reformation and was very common in the 17th to 19th c. Bardsley's A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames gives Hardcastle, with the spelling Hartcastle dated 1521 and the spelling Harcastell dated 1586. Reaney's DES p.216 also gives this surname, with the spelling Hardcastle dated to 1621.

This seems very well formed for a late 16th/early 17th c. name and could (with minor spelling variations) date back centuries earlier.

All the elements of this armory have good identifiability, the saltire is clearly a (fimbriated) saltire, and the castle is clearly a castle. The contrast is likewise excellent. However, we do note that the castle has more overlap with the underlying saltire than it does with the field. This is generally not considered good style - however, this style judgment and the precedents that go with it seem mostly to be based on reasons of identifiability and contrast. Since this submission does not have any contrast or identifiability problems (and we couldn't think of a charge (other than a fillet cross) which did overlap the field much when placed overall a saltire) we are sending this up.

Bryan Williamson (resub. K/device) Per fess azure and gules a pillar argent between two swords inverted proper.

The per fess line is drawn a bit low but we think it should be acceptable.

Catriona Stiubhard (new/name only) We changed the spelling of the given name from Katriona to Catriona as the submitter permitted. The Gaelic languages use a very different set of spelling conventions than English (so Gaelic 'Stiubhard' is pronounced 'Steward' not 'Stee-oo-be-hard' as it looks in English.) College of Arms research has shown that, in period, a name would not mix Gaelic and English spelling conventions. K is not a letter which is found in Gaelic spelling; therefore we have normalized the name's spelling to the standard Gaelic form.

Christopher Edward Hawkins (new/badge) Sable a decrescent Or.

Clear of conflict with the Canton of Hawkwood: Per chevron azure and argent in chief a decrescent Or. There is one CD for the field by X4a and another CD for unforced change of position on the field by X4g (moved from in chief to the center of the field; the change is "unforced" because the crescent in Hawkwood's badge is not "forced" to be in chief by other elements of the design such as tincture/contrast.) The commenter stated that a visual comparison should be made because the submissions are "both badges" but there seems to be nothing in the RfS stating that badges have different criteria for rule X4g than do devices. The fact that Hawkwood's badge shows the crescent over the top of a per chevron line of division should be more than sufficient to position the decrescent as clearly in chief.

Clear from Sean Macalrait of Sandyhume: Sable an increscent argent with one CD for the posture of the charge by X.4.h (reversing an increscent to make a decrescent) and one for the tincture. Clear from Arianne Farnsworth of Falconmoors: Sable mullety an increscent Or with one CD for adding the charge group on the field by rule X4b (the mullets in the mullety; they are not a "field treatment" but a charge group) and one CD for the posture of the crescent. Clear of the badge of Ulfarr MacDhughaill: (Fieldless) A fer-de-loup inverted Or. A fer-de-loup is a crescent-like charge, but it is here in a horizontal position (rather than a vertical one) so there is again a posture difference. There is also a field difference by X4a, since fieldless is a Clear Difference from any field, even another fieldless. Clear of Maeva Torfasdottir: Potent a crescent inverted Or with one CD for field and another for posture of crescent. Clear of Catarina della Zimarra: Sable a fleur de lys within the hems of a crescent Or, with one CD for the posture of the crescent and another for adding a charge group on the field (the fleur-de-lys.)

David of Moffat (resub. L/device) Vert a cross crosslet argent quarter pierced gules and on a chief engrailed argent three hunting horns contourny vert.

The previous device was returned in September 1996 for conflict with his mundane arms under Protected Items I of the Administrative Handbook as it was then in effect. The Administrative Handbook has since been altered in a version dated December 1 1996 which has been approved by the Board of Directors. Section III.A.9 (what was "Protected Items I) has been revised to state that:

"A small change is sufficient for registration... [name example deleted] Similarly, armory must also have some small difference in final blazon to be registered. Any change that causes a blazonable difference between mundane and Society arms is sufficient to allow registration by Laurel. Further, a submitter may register a close variation of his name or his arms but not both."

The arms presented here have one definite blazonable difference from his mundane arms (matriculated with the Lyon court): these are quarter-pierced, where the arms matriculated by Lyon are square-pierced. The S.C.A. sees this as a blazonable difference. The submitter's currently registered arms (Vert a cross crosslet argent quarter-pierced gules and on a chief dovetailed argent three hunting hems vert stringed gules) were originally submitted by An Tir blazoned as square pierced in the LoI -- but it was corrected by Laurel to read quarter pierced. This must therefore be a small, but blazonable, difference, as required by III.A.9. The difference should be analogous to the difference between the surname Miller and the surname the Miller mentioned in the name example as a sufficient difference

The submitter's registered name is not a close variant of his mundane legal name (mundane name deleted here) or any of its use name shortened variants, so this requirement of III.A.9 is also being met.

Note that the hunting horns have reversed in direction from the previous submission and now have their bells to sinister. They are now in the same posture as the ones on his mundane arms. This is the Scottish default posture for hunting horns, but the S.C.A. and English defaults have hunting horns with their bells to dexter. The horns have therefore been blazoned as contourny to comply with S.C.A. defaults. As has been shown in the LoI of March 1995 and supported in the LoAR of July 1995, the reversal of hunting horns is not a posture change worth heraldic difference -- however, it does appear to be a blazonable difference, so we are blazoning it.

Due to the long history of this submission and the unlikeliness of conflicts having arisen in the last three months without the knowledge of the An Tirian members of the College of Arms, Black Lion and the Lions Blood Designate were both in favor of sending this on directly without going through the internal submissions process, and I was quite content to oblige them. The other members of the An Tir College of Heralds present at the submissions processing meeting on December 14 were also in favor of sending the submission up at this time.

Fjordland, Shire of (new/name only) One individual recalled hearing about a place named Fjordland on the Learning Channel -- it's apparently in New Zealand. But it could not be found as an entry under its own name in our standard sources (Webster's Biographical Dictionary, Encyclopedia Brittanica.) Hence it does not appear to be a protected place by S.C.A. criteria.

Genevieve Marie Etienette de Montagne (new/dev. change) Per chevron purpure and gules two hummingbirds rising respectant wings addorsed and a decrescent Or.

Genevieve Marie Etienette de Montagne (new/badge) (Fieldless) A hummingbird rising wings addorsed Or.

Vs. Reagan of the White Dawn: Azure a songbird migrant bendwise maintaining in its beak a fusa Or, there is one CD for the field tincture, one CD for the posture (migrant is kind of like displayed tergiant) and perhaps another CD for the type of bird (although bird type seems not to be worth much difference due to current precedent.) There is no difference for the small held musical note in the bird's beak. A similar count applies to another armory owned by the same individual: Per bend sinister azure and vert a songbird migrant bendwise maintaining in its beak a flute bendwise sinister Or.

Muirgheal nĚ Sheanach·in (resub. K/device) Sable in bend three mullets argent and a ford.

As per the LoAR of 10/96 p.6 we have blazoned the charge in base simply as a ford, (rather than a ford proper) since it is in its default argent/azure coloration.

A suggestion was made that mullets in bend should end up on top of the ford. On a shield without a ford three mullets in bend would probably extend into the area occupied by the ford now. However, fords are like chiefs; they are peripheral charges which are not overlapped by the main charge group. The submitter has drawn the mullets correctly; they fill the field space left between the top of the shield and the top of the ford, in an "in bend" arrangement.

(new/name, device) Argent on a pile raguly Rules a celtic cross Or.

The name was originally submitted as Richard Oaf of Sussex. However, it seems that oaf in its current meaning is 19th c. (someone who is unpolished in manner) and earlier versions have more an implication of 'changeling.' I called the submitter; he is happy to drop the Oaf part, which he added to avoid some conflict he had been warned about. Alas, no one warned us about it, and we can't find it, so we have sent the name up in this form.

The pile is not too short, it is at an acceptable length and proportion. However, it is indeed true that piles throughout most of period are throughout (all the way to the bottom of the shield) or nearly throughout, and the pile should not be much shorter than this.

Seth Foxley (new/name only)

Spakbjorn de Olnei (new/badge) Per saltire Or and gules in pale two mullets sable.

Valerienne de Menton (new/name, device) Gules, a sinister hand and on a chief Or three mascles interlaced gules.

Valerienne de Menton (new/badge) (Fieldless) Three mascles interlaced in fess gules.

William Dermot MacPherson (new/name only)

The name was originally submitted with Liam rather than William. However, there are multiple precedents indicating that Liam is a post-period diminutive, the most recent being in the LoAR of 7/92. He has allowed the substitution.

Wyewood, Canton of (resub. K/name)

Yvette Merle (new/name, device) Azure a sun issuant from dexter chief Or and a ford.

Dauzat does say that Yvette is "more recent" than Yvonne as a feminine form from Yvo, but it seems plausible as a period name (especially given Withycombe's citation of Ivetta in 1167, when Norman French in France wasn't all that different from Norman French in England. A later development of Ivetta in France could easily be Yvette.)

The Following submissions were returned for further work:

Catriona Stiubhard (new/device) Azure a narwhal haurient argent armed Or.

Returned for reasons of S.C.A. conflict. Two pieces of armory need to have two "clear" or cadency differences between them to avoid the appearance of direct blood relation. Under the rules for submission this conflicts with both the device (Per pale vert and sable a narwhale haurient embowed argent) and the badge [Fieldless] A narwhale haurient embowed argent) of Gest Grimsson. One of the two "clear" differences can be gotten from the change in the field in both cases -- Catriona's field is blue, Gest's device's field is per pale vert and sable, and his badge is fieldless (which is given a clear difference for field from any field.) However, no more than one clear difference can be gotten for changes to the field of any armory by Rules for Submission X.4.a. The embowing of Gest's narwhale is not a heraldic difference but an artistic note in the blazon; Catriona's

narwhale could also be blazoned as embowed as it also has the curve to the body that is sometimes blazoned with this term. The only other difference is the tincture of the narwhale's horn; hers is Or, his is argent. By the rules of submission the color of half a charge group has to change before a Clear Difference is given for color, and the horn of the narwhale is much less than half the narwhale's color. A second Clear Differences is needed.

This may also be in conflict with the S.C.A. arms of Balin the Fairhaired: Sable a whale haurient argent. Again, there is one Clear Difference for the field tincture, and no difference in tincture between her narwhale and his whale. We are not sure if a type difference would be given. A narwhale would probably not be given heraldic difference from a natural dolphin or a naturally drawn whale. The heraldic standard whale is an odd looking fish with two spouts; it's possible that there may be difference between a (natural) narwhale as drawn here and a heraldic whale. However, it is possible that Balin's whale is drawn like a natural whale. We advise that on her redesign she makes sure to avoid conflict with Balin's arms as well as with Gest's arms and badge.

Possibly in conflict with Brendel the Swordfish: Azure a swordfish palewise haurient embowed to sinister argent. There may well be a CD for the type of fish (the swordfish having a prominent dorsal fin) and there might be a CD for posture -- or there might not. (Fish haurient vs. fish haurient to sinister are generally not given much difference on the grounds that they are effectively bilaterally symmetrical.)

It was suggested that the narwhal horn be drawn bigger to make it more visually significant. This is not a bad idea but the horn as drawn here seems within the acceptable limits of a standard narwhal horn. The addition or deletion of a unicorn-like horn from an animal is not worth difference in any case (regardless of how large it is drawn) by SCA precedent. (Unicorns are given a difference from horses, but there are a lot of other differences between a unicorn and a horse in addition to the horn; a unicorn has a lion's tail, cloven hooves, a hairy beard, tufts of hair at the hocks and a generally more goat-like or deer-like build.)

Fjordland, Shire of (new/device) Per fess indented azure and argent in chief an eagle's head erased within a laurel wreath Or and a base wavy crested purpure.

Returned for stylistic reasons. The wavy crested line of partition (as drawn in this submission, and in the margin) is post-period; in fact its use in heraldry dates to this century (as published in the July 1950 Coat of Arms magazine.) This is a reason for return in itself. We have also suggested that they consider making the eagle's head somewhat more prominent (perhaps a larger laurel wreath will help.) The wreath as it stands should be large enough to meet the requirement that a laurel wreath be a significant part of the heraldic design (a requirement not so strongly in force at the time of An Tir's Kingdom arms registration!)

They have been advised that it is not period practice to explicitly number the repeats in a line of partition; the per fess line is likely to be blazoned by Laurel as an indented line (not "twice indented.") The explicit enumeration of the indentations in the Three Mountains device is quite old and not current heraldic practice. If the number of indentations is important to the group we asked that they note it on the 'artist's notes' portion of the emblazon form.

Kyle McKettrick (new/name, device) Azure on a bend sinister argent a sword inverted sable entwined of a vine flowered to chief gules

The name Kyle in period appears to be solely used as a surname. It is a Scots surname deriving from a place name. In period, names consisted of a particular type of given' name (in most languages, the first name) and one or more bynames of some sort. This name has Kyle (a locative surname) and McKetrrick (an anglicized patronymic surname, ultimately deriving from the Old Norse given name Sitric or Sitrig which produces the Scots Gaelic patronym MacShitrig.) The name needs a given name. We have suggested some similar, but not identical sounding, Irish and English given names, or adding a given name to form something like James McKettrick of Kyle or (substantially less likely) James Kyle McKettrick.

The device was returned for identifiability problems. The vine wrapped tightly around the sword makes it difficult to identify the sword as a sword, and to identify the vine as a vine. We could not identify, even the main type of vine or the type of flower. A guess was made that this might be a rose vine with a rosebud -- however, in period heraldry rosebuds were not used (and are now banned from use in the S.C.A. for this reason.) The roses drawn were fully grown roses (virtually always drawn in the 'old rose' or 'wild rose' fashion of the heraldic rose rather than like the multipetalled roses which were just being bred in the 16th c. and resemble today's more common roses.) We have suggested that he separate the vine and sword elements from the entwining (or remove one of these elements.)

Port of Laighe na GrČine (resub. K/name, device) Per pale Or and azure a tower argent within a laurel wreath counterchanged.

Returned for lack of necessary petition of support from the branch regarding the name or the armory. I called the lady whose phone number was on the submission back in late September or early October, but the needed petitions were not received. The return letter indicates that if the petition is received before February 28 1996 this submission can be forwarded.

However, we also cautioned them that the place name seems very unlikely. The phrase Lighe na GrČine does seem to mean 'sunset' in Scots Gaelic according to Derick S. Thomson's The New English-Gaelic Dictionary (Gairm Publications, Glasgow, 1986, p.179.) However, sunset seems an unlikely element in a period place name. Place names generally consisted of a theme meaning some sort of physical feature (town, cliff, lake) in combination with a fairly straightforward descriptive that would help you identify it (West, Green, Windy...) Sunset might be considered a fanciful way of saying "west", but it seems somewhat unlikely to us. The letter reminds them that Laurel will not form a 'holding name' for branches (as it will with individuals) so if they send the name and device up to Laurel, and the name is returned, the device will also be returned even if there are no problems with it.

The device looked acceptable to us except for the lack of a petition of support.

Seth Foxley (new/name, device) Azure a for salient argent and a chief embattled Or.

Returned for stylistic reasons and conflict reasons. There are multiple rulings by Laurel Sovereign of Arms present and past holders of the office that indicate that complex lines of partition (such as the embattling on the chief) need to be drawn boldly and clearly; in the case of embattling, perhaps five embattlement 'repeats' across the top of the shield which are nice and square (about as deep as they are wide.) 'While these have about the right number of embattlements, they are very shallow (perhaps 1/4 as deep as they are wide) and we believe your device would be returned by Laurel for this reason This fox is also not quite drawn in a heraldically identifiable posture. While it is blazoned as 'salient' (a posture which puts the fox on its hind legs and leaping) it appears to be drawn like a fox standing on, or walking up, an incline. We are not sure if this would be considered a valid heraldic posture by Laurel (either as salient or salient bendwise) and we suggest that when he redesigns the arms, he draw the fox in a clearer heraldic posture. (Drawing internal details in the fox would help too.)

There is also a likely conflict with the registered S.C.A. arms of Robina Wycliff: Azure a wolf rampant argent maintaining a spear Or flying to sinister a pennoncelle gules fimbriated all within a bordure Or. Two pieces of armory need to have two "clear" or "cadency" differences between them to avoid the appearance of direct blood relation. In this case, there is one Clear Difference for the replacement of Robina's bordure with this chief. Since line of partition is part of charge type, the difference between a (plain) bordure and an (embattled) chief is still only one charge type difference, not two separate ones. There is no difference between the rampant and salient postures (which were drawn interchangeably in period) so, assuming that this fox is indeed salient, there is no second Clear Difference there. The only other difference would be the deletion of the spear and pennant in Robina's device. However, this sounds like a small 'held charge' which is not considered to be worth difference in the College of Arms. Only 'held charges' which are themselves as large as the animals holding them (such as the ragged staff in the bear and ragged staff badge of the Warwicks) are considered to be worth difference. Therefore, there is only one heraldic Clear Difference; another is needed.

We have asked that, on resubmission he does not 'hatch' the small emblazon and black and white, but put them in outline form only. The hatchings do not reproduce well, and scan into the computer even worse (a technique which is being used by my successor.) Thanks!

William Dermot MacPhenon (new/device)Per bend sinister raguly ermine and purpure a cross potent sable and a sea lion erect Or.

Returned for stylistic reasons. The major problem is with the depiction of the raguly line. Stylistically in period, elements of armory were drawn in fashions that enhanced identifiability, since identifiability was the prime reason behind the development of heraldry. There are multiple rulings by Laurel Sovereign of Arms present and past holders of the office that indicate that complex lines of partition (such as the raguly on the per bend sinister line) need to be drawn boldly and clearly; in the case of raguly on a per bend sinister line perhaps five (and no more than 7) raguly 'repeats' which are about as tall as they are long. This has about the right number of raguly repeats (perhaps one repeat smaller might be better), they are shallow (perhaps 1/2 as deep as they are wide) and we believe this device would be returned by Laurel for this reason alone. In addition, there are other artistic features that do not help identifiability of the elements; the ermine spots are very small and numerous (there should be fewer, larger, easier to identify ermine spots) and the ends of the cross potent are fairly small and 'stubby.' A redraw of the device incorporating larger, easier to identify), elements all through the armory would appear to be quite likely to pass.

New Submissions:

1 ) Alanus of Bunghea (Aquaterra) new/Device

Per chevron azure and Or, two head knives Or above a flame gules (NOTE: the flame is entirely red, despite the internal accents, except for the small opening in the uppermost center tongue.)

2 ) Arontius of Bickeleswade (Dragon's Laire) resub/N,D

Sable a draconic aspect flying serpent erect embowed Or langed and orbed gules with it's entwined about the nib of a quill pen bendwise argent a goute of ink Or dependant from he tip and on a base Or a winged cat sejant affrontČ wings displayed sable.

His current name (Irenaeus of Bickeleswade) was registered in June 1995. Arontius is shown on p. 289 of Dictionary of Saints, J. Delaney (Doubleday & Co, Garden City, NY, no date) (sub Honoratus) as one of a group known as the Twelve Brothers, all martyrs (c. 303 C.E.). He was beheaded at Potenza, Italy during the reign of the Emporer Maximian. He is commemorated in the Roman Calendar on September 1st.

His last device submission (Sable a legless wyvern embowed Or maintaining with its tail a quill argent) was returned in the October 1996 LoAR for conflict with Caryl de Trecesson (SCA) Sable, a dragon dormant Or. Laurel noted in the return that there was one CD for the position of the monster. This redesign adds a charged base counterchanged, which would add at least one more CD.

3) David Wolffury (Valley Weld) new/N,D

Argent, a wolf head affronty sable, issuant from ears and mouth flames vert.

The name is intended to be Anglo-Saxon and mean David Wolf-fire.

David is documented with a copy of his birth certificate. Reaney's Dictionary of British Surnames, 2nd ed. pp. 390-2 shows several examples of modern names derived from Anglo-Saxon "Wolf-"names. The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, (vol.l, p.197) sub Fiery: a. Forms: 3 furie, y, fuyre, -i, -y,...Cf Ofris. fiurech, Du. vurig, Da.fyrig, MHG. viurec, viuric, (Ger. feurig).

4 ) Edmund Middleton of York (Glymm Mere) new/N,D

Azure a chevron between three estoiles Or.

Edmund is shown in Withycombe pp. 93-4 dated to 1086 and 1379. Black's Surnames of Scotland p. 599 lists a Robert de Middleton in 1296. Reaney & Wilson's Dict. of English Surnames, 3rd ed., p. 508 shows a John de York from 1324.

5) James the Obscure (Madrone) new/N,D

Azure a scroll without rods unrolled fesswise argent, in chief a badger passant to sinister proper argent and sable

James is shown in Withycombe (2nd ed. p. 163) c. 1240. The surname is a descriptive construct. The American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin 3rd ed., NY, 1992) p. 1248 (sub obscure) Middle English from Old French obscur from Latin obsc_rus.

6) William Percival (Terra Pomaria) new/D

Gules, a griffon tufted rampant Or, a border orle Or and sable containing 7 roses Or.

7) Ciaran Cluana Ferta (Dragon's Mist) new/B

(Fieldless) A boot azure.

An Tir College of Heralds - Internal Letter - January 1997

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