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The Composition of the Coat of Arms part 3

In the 16th and 17th Centuries it became the fashion in Britain for the heralds in their Visitations (recording of arms) to grant crests to families which bore arms but which previously had no such addition to the arms. Prior to this time crests were limited to those wealthier families that took part in Knights Tournaments. In many cases arms are allowed in one Visitation and the crest in another some 50 years later. Most probably the crest had been assumed by the family in the meantime, following the well-known principle of keeping up with the Jones’s. There are very few families today who posses arms without a crest in Britain and most of Europe. A notable exception is the...

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The Composition of the Coat of Arms part 2

The wreath is the means of fastening the crest to the helmet. The crest is placed above the helmet. When an artist depicts a shield with the crest above it on the wreath but the latter not attached to the helmet, he is guilty of an heraldic no-no. The crest cannot be airborne as though independent of the rest of the coat of arms. The wreath was of silk with a cord twisted round it and the crest was fastened upon it. The modern practice is to show the wreath in the alternate colors of the shield, usually the primary metal and primary color. The crest itself is perhaps the most well known of all the parts of a coat...

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The Composition of the Coat of Arms part 1

The shield is the central and essential component of the Coat of Arms. Without the shield there cannot be a coat of arms. The shape of the shield may vary just as the design of the arms as a whole may vary and in fact does. It would be possible to have half a dozen examples of the same coat of arms yet to the uninitiated it would appear that they are different coats. The reason for this is that the artists in creating the arms from the original written description have been influenced as all artists are by varying fashions and styles in Heraldry. The shield can be represented in many ways and directions according to the fashion of...

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