Friday, October 23, 2015

HERALDRY: Coat of Arms vs. Crest

All of the above add up to an "Achievement"
 of the owner's coat of arms.
Ian Senior (Trinity 1958) sends out an independent Trinity College alumni newsletter from time to time. It supplements the good work of the College's alumni relations and development team.

In Senior's previous issue he kindly mentioned my article on the Coats of Arms of the Oxford Colleges. In his article, seeking to sustain his readers' interest by varying his language, he uses the word crest as a synonym for a coat of arms.

This rouses Robert Parker (Trinity 1967) to write to Senior making clear that a crest is not a coat of arms. He says:
I too read John Tepper Marlin’s (Trinity 1962) article in Oxford Today with great interest, but the article is about “Coats of Arms”, not “Crests”! A Crest is a quite separate device, used for identifying one’s property, or as a badge (e.g., the Trinity double-headed Gryphon device on the Trinity College Boat Club tie), while the “Achievement of Arms” of the modern colleges, with which the article is concerned, are all full “Coats of Arms” - i.e., a shield, emblazoned.
Arms granted by the College of
Arms to the widow of a lawyer who
represented "ladies of the night".
Senior responds: "Glad to be put right on coats of arms, or could I also call them escutcheons? - Ed."

The answer to Senior's question is in the figure above. A coat of arms may include an escutcheon or shield (which seem to be synonyms). But it often includes other elements of the Achievement. When you, as an individual, go to the College of Arms and pay the $8,000 fee (upon approval of your application), you should expect to get The Works - a full Achievement with crest, motto and whatever else fits, plus the seal of one or more of the Kings of Arms, certifying that you have been granted the arms.

Windsor Herald demonstrated this at a talk earlier this week in New York City. He designed a coat of arms for a deceased attorney whose widow wanted to obtain for him a posthumous coat of arms. The bread and butter of the distinguished attorney's business was the defense of what Windsor Herald described delicately as "ladies of the night".

So we see on the shield at right a cut-off view, in two rows, of Six Ladies Dancing. The black (sable) vertical bars evoke the view from a prison cell.

The widow was pleased with this memory of her late spouse, which I have no doubt was easy for some Poursuivant to establish as unique.

From what I understand, while many people who apply are refused arms, Oxford alumni who have managed to stay out of jail – and maybe some who have done time in a good cause – can make a pretty good case for their being entitled to bear arms, in the heraldic sense, with the endorsement of the College of Arms.

Since I have a sentimental interest in the continuation of the institution, I encourage anyone who reads this and has a spare $8K that is getting laughably little interest from a bank to apply for a coat of arms. Cheaper than a Monet.

Comments: Coat of Arms vs. Crest Harris Manchester  Linacre

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