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Basic Heraldry

Last Updated September 12, 2001

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Find out what the symbols or "charges" on coats of arms really mean.

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I found the above information here.

Heraldic Tincture

The metals, colours, and furs used in heraldry are known as tinctures.

The Metals

Or (gold, often depicted as yellow) drawn as black dots
Or
Argent (silver, usually depicted as white) drawn as white Argent


Many of The Colours

Sable
Sable
Gules
Gules
Azure
Azure
Vert
Vert
Purpure
Purpure
Murrey
Murrey
Sanguine
Sanguine
Tenne
Tenne
Orange
Orange


Many of The Furs



Ermine
Ermine
Ermines
Ermines
Erminois
Erminois
Pean
Pean
Vair
Vair
Countervair
Countervair
Vair en point
Vair en point
Vair in pale
Vair in pale
Vairy
Vairy
Countervairy
Countervairy
Vairy en point
Vairy en point
Vairy in pale
Vairy in pale
Potent
Potent
Counterpotent
Counterpotent
Potent en point
Potent en point
Papellone
Papellone
Plumete
Plumete

Ordinaries

a Fess Or Bars Argent a Barrulett a Pale Or a Pallets a Tierce a Pile a Pile inverted a Bend Or a Bendlets
FessBarsBarruletPalePalletsTiercePilePile InvertedBendBenlets
a Riband a Bend Sinister Or a Bendlet Sinister a Chevron a Chevonels a Chevron inverted a Chevronel Inverted a Cross Or a Fillet Cross a Saltire Or
RibandBend SinisterBendlet SinisterChevronChevonelsChevron InvertedChevronel InvertedCrossFillet CrossSaltire
a Fillet Saltire a Pall a Fillet Pall a Pall Inverted
Fillet SaltirePallFillet PallPall Inverted

Sub-Ordinaries

a Chief Or a Base Or a Canton Or a Canton Sinister Or a Bordure Or a Gyron Or an Orle Or Double Tressure Sable a Quarter Or an Inescutcheon
ChiefBaseCantonCanton
Sinister
BordureGyronOrleDouble
Tressure Sable
QuaterInescutcheon
a Label Or Flanches Or
LabelFlanches

Geometric Charges

Annulet Billet Cartouche Delf Fret Fusil Lozenge Mascle Roustre Roundel
AnnuletBilletCartoucheDelfFretFusilLozengeMascleRoustreRoundel
Goute Saltorel
GouteSaltorel

Heraldic Lines

an angled line an Arched or Enarched line a Double Arched line a Bevilled line a Bretessed line a Counterembattled line a Clover Leaf line a Crested line a Dentilly line a Dancetty line
AngledArchedDouble ArchedBevilledBretessedCounterembattledClover LeafCrestedDentillyDancetty
a Dovetailed line an Ecartelle line an Embattled Grady line another Embattled Grady line an Embattled line an Engrailed line a Fir Tree line a Fir Twig line an Indented line an Inveced line
DovetailedEcartelleEmbattled GradyAnother Embattled GradyEmbattledEngrailedFir TreeFir TwigIndentedInveced
a Nebuly line another Nebuly line a Nowy line a Potenty line a Raguly line a Rayonne line an Undy line an Urdy line a Wavy line a Spades line
NebulyAnother NebulyNowyPotentyRagulyRayonneUndyUrdyWavySpades

Marks of Cadence

cadenz.gif (1809 bytes)

Differences, or Marks of Cadency, are the distinctions used to indicate the various branches or Cadets of one family. The eldest son during the lifetime of his father bears a Label; the second son a Crescent, the third, a Mullet, the fourth, a Martlet, the fifth, an Annulet; the sixth, a Fleur-de-Lis; the seventh, a Rose; the eighth, a Cross moline; the ninth, a Double quatrefoil.

This is just a sample from Tempus Peregrinator's Little Heraldy Book.

Just because you have a surname that also appears to have a registered coat of arms, does not give you the right to that armorial bearing unless it is registered as yours specifically or you can claim it as Arms of Paternal or Hereditary. If you can prove your descent from the original bearer then you might be able to claim it as YOUR family coat of arms. Although there are no laws in the U.S. that prohibit one from using a family coat of arms that coincidently has the same surname as yours, in other parts of the world it is a crime to do so unless you can prove it belongs to your family by right of descent. I should point out though, you can create your OWN coat of arms. You can even have it registered!

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since July 24, 2000