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Basic Heraldry[edit | edit source]

“HERALDRY - [definition from The Random House Dictionary of the English language, Unabridged Edition (1973)] n., pl. –ries . 1. the science of armorial bearings. 2. the art of blazoning armorial bearings, of setting the rights of person to bear arms or to use certain bearings, of tracing and recording genealogies, of recording honors, and of deciding questions of precedence. 3. the office or duty of a herald. 4. A coat of arms; armorial bearings. 5. a heraldic device, or a collection of such devices. 6. heraldic symbolism. 7. heraldic pomp and ceremony . . . . (HERALD+-RY)”

Heraldry is an ancient service, art and science which goes back at least to the middle ages. The exact date of the formation of ‘organized heraldry’ is unknown, but happened seemingly simultaneously in both European and Asian feudal systems. Germany seems to be the site of the first signet rings and seals. At about the same time heralds became part of European noble and royal courts, the Japanese developed a system of ‘Mons’ to visually identify ‘clans.’ Symbols used on shields identified individuals, military units and groups, etc. This practice goes back to the early days of Greece, Rome, Israel, Egypt, Mesopotemia, etc.

Heralds became the first military intelligence officers of the nobility and royal courts because they could identify the good-guys and the bad-guys in a battle – very useful when full armor with covered faces became the vogue. To make such identification and differencing of arms possible, rules were set up and the metals, colors, stains and furs used in designing the arms was established as well as a system to describe and draw arms, known as blazoning and hatching.

One form of heraldic bearing is called Ordinaries - these are various lines and geometric shapes used as charges (crosses, piles, etc.).

Actual charges for coats of arms fall into several categories: natural objects, animate charges, inanimate things, canting charges or “rebuses” (which form a pun on the name of the bearer) and a more recent addition, cartoon characters.
Natural objects would be things like rocks, celestial objects – sun, moon, stars, constellations, comets, planets, etc. – and so on.

Animate charges include but are not limited to the following: trees and parts of trees (leaves, limbs, chunks of wood, logs of various sizes, etc.), flowers (pedals, blossoms, leaves, etc.), plants, divine beings, human beings and parts of the human body, animals, birds, fish, insects, reptiles, monsters, ‘other creatures,’ etc. [Lions, dragons, tigers, bears, camels, goats, sheep, whales, narwhales, dolphins, butter-flies, spiders, scorpions, snakes, bats, eagles, swallows, hawks, flying fish, deer, elk, moose, fawn, unicorn, cyclopes, monitor, dinosaurs, and much more.]

Inanimate things are generally viewed as conventional ancient charges: anchors, arrows, bows, bridges, castles, crowns, gloves, swords, ships, towers, wheels, machines, etc. There have also been several modern things used as charges; e.g., the DNA double-helix was used as the charge on the arms of the scientist who ‘discovered’ it; airplanes have been used as charges, in scenes on shields, and as supporters for arms, as have rockets. ‘Spaceships’ have only been used in the cartoon character category.

Canting arms or “rebuses” would be: a) a man with the surname of Lucy, Geddy, or Pike using the fish known in heraldic terms as Luce or Lucy or Ged, which is the variety of fish known more commonly as a pike, for a charge on his shield; or
b) John Shakespeare having a single large jousting lance on his shield.
Cartoon characters are generally used in the military branch of heraldry and are the caricatures of animals, people or objects.

Heraldry can be used to identify individuals, their family members (this is called cadency), their property, and holdings as well as ‘houses,’ cities, corporations, societies, churches, states, nations, military units, businesses, agencies or about any other type of organizations. But the ‘family of coat of arms,’ with only a surname to identify it, are usually bogus.

When heraldic seals were used, anciently, they were similar to an individual’s signature on documents or a brand on livestock or property of a certain individual. Today if you assume or use another person’s identity or signature you will be arrested and charged with crimes of identity theft, forgery or worse. That is a crime!

But, so is assuming another person’s identity by using their coat of arms without it being properly differenced and granted to you by a properly empowered office. Just because some ‘businessman’ takes advantage of someone’s ill-informed, misinformed nature, or their lack of knowledge (aka: ignorance) just for the sake of turning a profit or making money, with no intent of even trying or caring to do good; well this is usually called being a fraud, a thieve, or con-man, and a criminal.

Usurping another’s name, heritage and lineage by using a coat of arms which is not yours also seems to disregard your own proper family tree, heritage and lineage is a BIG mistake, whoever does it.

YOUR family tree and coat of arms are YOUR birthright ….

(To learn more refer to: Asian, European, Tribal and U.S. Heraldry)

Table of Tinctures -
         Name       Heraldic Name      Abbrev.      Rep. by        Hatching
         Gold                 OR                 O           Yellow          . . . . . . .

         Silver           ARGENT              A           White
        Black             SABLE               S            Black         +++++++

        Blue               AZURE               B            Blue           -------------

        Green             VERT                 V            Green        \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

        Purple          PURPURE            P            Purple        ////////////////

       Red                GULES               G            Red           IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII
      Orange or
      Tawny               TENNE            none         Orange        none

      Purple            SANGUINE         none         Blood-red     none

      Purplish –
      Black              MURREY           none         Mulberry      none
Furs: (To not confuse you only these two furs are given with variations)
     Ermine             ERMINE            none         Black spots on white
                                                                    (black spots represent tails)
                            ERMINES or
                            Contra-hermines  none        White spots on black
                                                                     (Sable ermined argent)
                            ERMINOIS          none         Black spots on gold
                                                                     (Or erminois sable)
                            PEAN                none         Gold spots on black

     Vair                  VAIR                  none         Alternate blue and white
(blue and white pieces came from (like alternating cups) the pieces variously shaped in the
practice of using back and belly and arranged skins of grey squirrels)
                           Counter-vair         none          (like alternating diamonds)

                           Vair en point        none           (like seine waves)
                           Potent                none           (like crutch heads)

                           Counter-potent    none            (like alternate crutch heads)