What is a Family Crest / Coat of Arms / Clan Badge?

For our Family Crest / Coat of Arms products, we use licensed artwork to reproduce the Shield with the most commonly found components for a family name. While there is no 'correct' Coat of Arms for a family name (unless you are a direct descendent of the person originally awarded the Crest), nor legal right to a Family Crest / Coat of Arms, there is no reason we cannot use and enjoy the decoration of a Coat of Arms associated with someone centuries ago with the same surname. The use of Coats of Arms is not regulated in most countries. There is no reason why we cannot create a Family Crest / Coat of Arms for ourselves, designed to mean something special to our own lives and family.

Family Crests / Coats of Arms were not awarded to a family or a name, but to an individual. This is why there is often more than one Coat of Arms associated with a surname.

The entire Coat of Arms consists of the Shield and its surround (the mantling), the helmet and the 'crest' part that sits on top of the helmet.  Please note that our licensed Heraldry artwork collection does not include the 'crest' part on top of the helmet on our engraved Family Crest gifts.

The 'crest' part of a Coat of Arms (the part that sits on top of the helmet) is used in a badge setting (a circular belt) to make a Clan Badge. Clans are Scottish or Irish so you will only find Clan Badges for Scottish or Irish names. A Clan can comprise of many families, so you will find several surnames with the same Clan Badge.

Originally, Coats of Arms were generally simple, then subsequent generations made slight variations to the design to make it their own. Marriages often resulted in a combination of two family coats of arms.

A brief history of Coats of Arms and Heraldry

Making marks or symbols for military purposes goes back to the earliest man. The Greeks put marks on their shields long before Christianity. Even African warriors painted their wooden shields with symbols of heritage. However, the art that we know as HERALDRY didn’t start until the 1100's, around the time of the Crusades.

Originally, Crests were embroidered on coats which went over a knight's armour to protect him from the heat of the sun.  These Crests, on coats over armour (arms) soon became know as Coats of Arms.  As the use of Coats of Arms became more widespread and elaborate, there began to be some duplication, which caused some lethal battles between knights over their Arms. Therefore in 1419 under Henry V of England, Heralds were called upon to verify, record, and deny the use of arms.  The Heralds developed a unique language of their own to describe these symbols known as a Blazon of Arms. The Blazon of Arms are the symbols, colours, markings and metals awarded, recorded, preserved  and placed on the shield of the Coat of Arms.

The art of placing these unique symbols and colors on shields is known as Heraldry.