Boutell’s heraldry

Boutell’s Heraldry is perhaps the most quoted and referred to text on heraldry ever written. Though it has an admittedly English bias, it is nevertheless required reading for anyone interested in the art and science of heraldry.

Originally published by Charles Boutell in 1863 as “Boutell’s Manual of Heraldry” , it has gone through a number of revisions with the latest being of 1983 by J.P. Brooke-Little, Clarenceux King of Arms. For almost 150 years, it has been the standard reference book for heraldry worldwide in general and English heraldry in particular. The detailed descriptions of of the rules surrounding heraldry from tinctures to supporters to crest coronets to badges to pennons are of immense value to the student of heraldry.

After having read it, more than a couple of times, I can honestly say that this is an excellent book for anyone that wants to seriously enter the world of heraldry. However, I would not recommend this book to the novice with just a curiosity on the subject for two main reasons: 1) the cost of the book is rather high and 2) it is a thick and dry book. For the absolute beginner, I would recommend¬†Discoveries: Heraldry by Michel Pastoureau. Boutell’s Heraldry would be a great follow up book one would need to have after making the decision to continue on this path.

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