Tracing one’s ancestry is so popular, it’s a billion-dollar business.
Tracing your family tree is not only fun, it can turn up some exciting surprises. What if you have a Duke, Duchess or even a Queen in your lineage – how cool would that be? All your research efforts could also reveal a family crest or coat of arms. Displaying your family crest is a unique way to pay tribute to your heritage or, dare we say, to show off your ancestral roots. Giving the gift of a family crest or coats of arms custom engraved or full-folor printed on ornaments, picture frames or paperweights to relatives at your next reunion would probably be a much appreciated memento, too.
The Difference Between a Crest and a Coat of Arms
Though they are often confused, a crest and a coat of arms are not the same. According to those versed in heraldry, the art of studying coats of arms and crests, a coat of arms is presented to a person in honor of a significant service or deed they achieve. It is only granted by a ruling monarch. A crest is an element of the coat of arms. It sits at the top of the shield, or heraldic, and symbolizes the reason for the tribute. The original recipient is the only person allowed to wear or display this coat of arms.
Coat of Arms Passed Down Through Generations
The first coat of arms is traced back to the 11th century A.D. and appears on the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the Norman Invasion of England. Knights are shown carrying shields with simple crosses painted on them. In the 13th century, coats of arms become hereditary by decree of King Richard I, better known as Richard the Lionhearted. Knights heading off to the Crusades could leave their coat of arms to their heirs.
Scottish Clans Wear Chief’s Crest
In Scotland, a member of a clan, or house, can wear, carry or display the crest. At the end of the 16th century, relatives of the armiger, or holder, of the coat of arms begin to wear the crest like a badge. The badge bears the Chief’s crest encircled by a strap and buckle and is inscribed with the clan’s motto. Many people who are not blood relatives of the Clan Chieftain can also wear his crest.
Apply to the College of Arms
Countries like the United Kingdom and Germany take their coats of arms and crests very seriously. The U.K. established standards and laws to govern who gets issued a coat of arms, what it depicts and who can legitimately wear or display it. Today, many coats of arms and crests are trademarked. Since 1484, the College of Arms has created and maintained the official registers of coats of arms and pedigrees for much of the Commonwealth. If you are a citizen, you can apply to them for your coat of arms. They are a valuable source for those searching for their existing family tree.
Create Beautiful Family Crest or Coat of Arms Displays at PlaqueMaker
If you discover your family’s coat of arms or crest and want to display it, PlaqueMaker has a fantastic selection of quality wood, crystal, metal and acrylic items to personalize with your heraldic standard. Our easy-to-use online design tools allow you to use a digital copy of your family’s crest or coat of arms to create a picture frame, paperweight, coasters, plaque and more that your loved ones will cherish.
Even if you don’t have a true family crest or coats of arms – who’s to say you can’t design one for your family, your golf club, your book club or other organization you belong to? The look of a crest or coat of arms is very attractive and regal, so design it yourself at PlaqueMaker.