Designing your own coat of arms

In an earlier post, the topic of obtaining a new coat of arms was covered and most attention was given to the various organizations and individuals that can assist with this. In today’s post, we’ll introduce a new series of posts exploring the path of designing one’s own arms which is sometimes the most rewarding approach.

Be forewarned that this will not be a quick process and may take from weeks to years to get “the one”. A coat of arms represents yourself and your descendants for generations and any attempt to get one should not be taken lightly. You may think of this as getting a tattoo that is painful to be removed. A tattoo that it is highly likely your children and their children and so on will also get.

You may have some ideas or you may have none at all, that’s fine. The key is to have an open mind as you will change your mind many times along the way.

Before starting, you’ll need to answer some questions that may help get the creative juices flowing. Some questions I like asking are:

  • Do you know of any of your ancestors that were armigerous although you cannot claim those arms even with differencing?
  • Are there any familial or personal symbols used in the past? (e.g. cattle brand, housemark, etc.)
  • What does your surname mean?
  • What is your ancestry?
  • If you would like to include allusions to your ancestry, what would they be? (e.g. colors, symbols, style, etc)
  • What is your religion/philosophy?
  • If you would like to include allusions to your religion, what would they be? (e.g. colors, symbols, style, etc)
  • What is your genealogy? (either documented or family oral tradition)
  • Military or civil service?
  • Any significant personal/professional/spiritual achievements?
  • What is your profession?
  • Any family or personal nicknames?
  • What are your favorite colors?

The above are just a sample of questions to ask. As a result of those, many more can be asked while others may be skipped. There aren’t any hard and fast rules here, the questions are just to help generate ideas.

Another thing I would recommend is that the prospective armiger start looking at existing coats of arms either by visiting a museum, a library or, my favorite, an online armorial. Some of the online armorials I enjoy are of:

By examining existing coats of arms, the prospective armiger gets an idea of what’s out there, how arms were constructed, details used that may trigger a thought, etc. Not to mention that it’s a quick, though not at all foolproof, way to see if an idea is already “taken”.

In subsequent posts in the series, we’ll go over the questions proposed above and how those can assist in the design of a new coat of arms that will identify you and your family for generations to come!

Next: Ancestral arms or familial symbols

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