Authentic Coats of Arms & Treasures

Create a Coat of Arms

Creating A Motto For Your Coat Of Arms

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In a previous post, we talked about all of the options you have when choosing an animal (or body part, plant, or inanimate object) to form the basis of your family crest. As you may or may not know, the family crest is just one element of a coat of arms design, typically located near the top above the helm.

Today, we’d like to talk about another important element of your coat arms: the motto. As we’ve mentioned previously, coats of arms were traditionally commissioned so that a particular individual would have a symbol to represent his family name. Coats of arms were also a way to identify soldiers in the field of battle, and a symbol around which troops pledged to a particular family could organize.

In light of this last purpose, it’s very important to have a motto on your coat of arms. The motto on your coat of arms can be seen as the icing on the cake; a few words that tie together and elevate all the symbolism that you’ve worked so hard to create throughout the other elements.

The idea of choosing a motto can be a little intimidating though, especially if you’re not a writer and don’t consider yourself particularly eloquent. That’s why Fine Legacy has put together this brief guide to creating a motto for your coat of arms. Keep reading to learn more about the function of a motto, what it should convey, and how to choose the right one for your family.

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What Is The Purpose Of The Motto?

At its most basic, the motto on a coat of arms is meant to articulate the motivation or intention of the person bearing them. Keep in mind that this could be the patriarch of a family or a knight in his service. Mottos can be a play on words, or, more commonly, a latin phrase that describes the life philosophy of the family.

Choosing Your Coat Of Arms Motto

Although Fine Legacy is dedicated to helping people create authentic coats of arms, we realize that we’re no longer living in medieval times. This means that you need not feel so restricted when it comes to choosing a family motto. Although many family mottoes are written in Latin, this isn’t necessary if you don’t feel that level of formality represents your family. You also don’t need to listen to other coats of arms creators who may tell you that there’s one certain motto for everyone who shares your surname. Your coat of arms is a unique design for you, and your motto should be too.

Examples Of Mottoes

  • Irritate not the lion
  • Virtue is the only nobility
  • He who conquers endures
  • Think and thank
  • Victory is in truth
  • Yield not to misfortunes
  • A tree is recognized by its fruit
  • Brave in difficulties
  • Faith is stronger than fortune
  • Always faithful/strong/nimble/ready
  • By reason not force
  • All things for the good
  • After clouds, sunshine
  • Courage without fear

Choosing a motto is part of our coat of arms creation process. Contact us to learn more!

Understanding The Elements Of A Coat Of Arms

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If you’ve spent any amount of time researching what it takes to create a coat of arms, you might be wondering why the timelines from reputable companies such as Fine Legacy are so extensive. After all, can’t you just march down to the mall and buy a coat of arms for your last name from the cardigan-wearing guy at the kiosk? Why should you have to wait several weeks, participating in meetings, phone calls, and revisions, just to create a coat of arms with us?

There are a couple of things that might surprise you about the process of creating a coat of arms. First, the design of your coat of arms isn’t decided by your last name. While the family history associated with your surname will certainly help you make decisions about what to include in your document, a coat of arms has always and will forever be a way to identify an individual. You can draw a sense of pride or even imitate elements of the coat of arms your father used, but ultimately, your coat of arms cannot be and will not be exactly the same. (This is what the guy at the mall kiosk just doesn’t understand, because he’s not really interested in accuracy. Just making the sale.)

The second reason that creating a coat of arms is a more involved process than you might have expected is that there are a lot of elements to design! Let’s take a look at some of the basic elements of a coat of arms as well as some of the things that can be optional depending on your personal tastes.

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Essential Elements Of A Coat Of Arms

  1. Shield – In medieval times, coats of arms were always painted on a knight’s shield to help identify him as well as the family for whom he was fighting at the time. Since shields are no longer a part of our modern attire, the shield is now represented in the coat of arms. The placement and colors depicted in the shield tell a story about the origin of its owner.
  2. Crest – As we detailed in a previous post about family crests and their meanings, the crest is typically located right under the motto and on top of the helm/helmet, if included. The crest is considered to be a three-dimensional symbol that marks an achievement of the owner of the coat of arms. Crests are most typically animals, religious symbols, or flora. Crests are not unique to a family or individual, which is why common symbols appear over and over throughout coat of arms history.
  3. Motto – The motto is entirely the invention of whoever commissioned the coat of arms. This means it can be any phrase or series of words that holds meaning for you or your family. The motto is always located in a banner at the very top of the coat of arms.
  4. Supporters – These are two elements–usually animals or people–that adorn either side of your chosen shield. As their name suggests, these elements provide visual support for the entire coat of arms design, and usually help tell the story of how the coat of arms came to be.

Additional Elements Of A Coat Of Arms

While the above-mentioned elements can typically be found in every coat of arms, there are other elements that only appear at the discretion of the designer or commissioner.

  1. Helm/Helmet – As you might imagine for a symbol that was created for knights, coats of arms often include a medieval helmet of some sort. The helmet style may vary with the bearer’s (or in this case, commissioner’s) rank, the century being represented, or the artist’s preference. When a helmet is included, the crest is typically placed on top of it.
  2. Wreath/Torse – This element looks a lot like ribbon or colored rope, and usually consists of the primary coat of arms color and metal. The wreath or torse serves two purposes in your coat of arms: masking the empty space between helm and crest, and holding the mantling in place.
  3. Mantle/Mantling – According to some heraldry experts, the mantle or mantling is said to represent the cloth that traditionally hung from the wreath on a knight’s armor and was used to protect the head and neck. In modern coat of arms designs, the mantling often looks more like leaves or ivy and is primarily used to add color and complexity.

Things You Need Before You Can Create A Coat Of Arms

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We’re so glad you’ve found Fine Legacy in your search to learn more about creating a crest and coat of arms for your family. If you’re reading our blog, it’s probably because you’re hoping to learn more about the process for creating a coat of arms and exactly what you can expect from Fine Legacy during this historical adventure.

It’s important to us that you know we strive to uphold the strongest corporate ethics and customer services standards in the business. There are lots of websites out there that claim they will let you create a coat of arms “in minutes” for “next to nothing,” but we caution you against throwing in your lot with these inexperienced outfits. Just like medieval knights had to be careful when pledging their allegiance to a noble family and agreeing to wear their emblems, you must be careful when choosing a company to help you create a coat of arms. The wrong decision could leave you with less money and a bad taste in your mouth.

Here at Fine Legacy, we’ve mapped out an in-depth process for creating a coat of arms so that your satisfaction is guaranteed every step of the way. Keep reading to discover what we’ll expect from you when you start to create a coat of arms with Fine Legacy.

Creating A New Coat Of Arms Vs. Completing An Existing Document

First, let’s talk about the two different ways we help families create a coat of arms. We service both clients who have an existing coat of arms but want to update or complete it, as well as clients who have no known coat of arms but would like to create an heirloom piece for their family.

Things You’ll Need To Begin Creating Your Coat Of Arms

Regardless of whether you’re finishing/revising a coat of arms or starting from scratch, there are some things we’d like you to think about before the process begins.

  1. Family Documents – Creating a coat of arms is a significant undertaking upon the parts of both the artist and the family member who commissions it. Here at Fine Legacy, we’re very concerned with historical accuracy and making sure that we honor the ancient tradition of heraldry. That’s why we may request family documents that support claims of lineage, such as birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, and photographs.
  2. Heraldic Preferences – While many elements of your coat of arms are decided by the history of your family, that’s not to say that you can take creative license with some of the symbols. If you have heraldic preferences about what to include or not include in the coat of arms, we’ll need it in writing early on in the process.
  3. Family Motto – One of the most important parts of creating a coat of arms is identifying and preserving a family motto. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you’ve no doubt heard their fictional family mottos repeated over and over, almost like mantras. If your family already has a motto, we can include it when creating your coat of arms, or, if you’d like to branch out, you can create a new family motto that’s all your own. Either way we’ll need to know what it is before your coat of arms will be complete!

Fine Legacy Is Your Full-Service Partner In Creating A Coat Of Arms

Remember, this list of things you’ll need before you can start creating a coat of arms isn’t set in stone. While knowing all of the answers up front may speed up the process, we understand that you may be unsure about how to find some of these things or make some of these decisions. Not to worry! Fine Legacy is your full-service partner in creating a coat of arms. That’s why we’re very hands on throughout the entire process, offering personal consultations and plenty of chances for revision.

Contact us today to get started!

How To Properly Use Your Coat Of Arms

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Fine Legacy is on a mission to help people create a coat of arms for their family. We aim to achieve the best possible customer service satisfaction, which not only means educating people about what a coat of arms really is, but also walking them through the step-by-step process of choosing elements for their unique coat of arms commission.

People are often surprised that creating a coat of arms with Fine Legacy is such an in-depth process. Unlike the people selling coats of arms at the mall or via online DIY creation tools, we’re dedicated to helping people understand both the history and purpose of coats of arms, helping them to create a legacy that can be a point of pride for their family members.

Part of that is educating people on how they can properly use their coats of arms after they’re created. You might be surprised to learn that there are rules of etiquette governing this sort of thing!

Using Your Coat Of Arms Isn’t As Simple As You May Think

Creating a coat of arms continues a centuries-old tradition and should not be taken lightly. The same goes for using your coat of arms, which heraldic etiquette dictates should never occur in a casual manner. There are also some restrictions on which family members can wield the coat of arms, which however outdated, are still worthy of note.

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Ways You MAY Use Your Coat Of Arms

  • It is appropriate to use the coat of arms created through Fine Legacy in the following ways:
  • Engraved or embossed on wedding invitations, birth and death announcements, or other formal familial correspondence IF the father’s family bears the coat of arms and his name appears on the documents.
  • Engraved or embossed on place cards or menu cards for a formal dinner hosted by the family who owns the crest.
  • Engraved on large pieces of silver servingware.
  • Painted (or these days, printed), framed and hung on the wall for decoration.
  • A lozenge (diamond-shaped version of the shield) may be engraved or emblazoned on a woman’s personal possessions such as a handkerchief, dressing-table accessories, or writing paper (the coat of arms would traditionally belong to her father or husband).

Ways You MAY NOT Use Your Coat Of Arms

There are few hard and fast rules about what you can’t do with your coat of arms, especially in these modern times, but rest assured, if you make a faux pas, purists won’t hesitate to tell you about it. Although there’s no such thing as the “coat of arms police” the best rule of thumb is to only use your coat of arms in formal situations that involve your family directly.

Want to get starting creating your own coat of arms? Contact Fine Legacy today. We’ll let you know all the documentation and information that’s needed for the design process to begin. Also, don’t forget that we have a full selection of formal “treasures” on which your coat of arms can be beautifully displayed. These include works of art, timepieces, and signet rings.

Why Create A Coat Of Arms For Your Family?

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Perhaps you’ve browsed the Fine Legacy gallery, admired the coats of arms created by other people, and wondered if you could create a coat of arms for your own family. It’s possible that you went back and forth, thinking that a customized, authentic coat of arms would be a fun way to explore your family’s history, but then also wondering if creating such an emblem is worth the investment.

To fully understand the purpose of a coat of arms and the deep meaning it can bring to your family tree, it’s necessary to go all the way back to the time when coats of arms and family crests were first created.

The Art And Science Of Heraldry

To fully understand all the benefits of creating a coat of arms, we must cast our memories back to the medieval ages, when kings and queens, knights and peasants roamed the lands. During this time, knights were often sworn to protect the honor of a noble family. When “hired” the knight would be allowed to decorate his armor, especially his shield, with the coat of arms that had been bestowed upon his employer by a monarch. You see, many people were illiterate during this time, regardless of their wealth. While the name of particular family wouldn’t necessarily be understood in a city or field of battle, a bold, striking, simple coat of arms could be. Overtime, coats of arms became very intricate, always commissioned from a talented artist by a person in authority.

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Reasons Knights Needed A Coat Of Arms

  • Identity – As we already mentioned, the first and most important reason that coats of arms were created was to help identify different factions on the field of battle. As armor became more complex and all encompassing, it wasn’t possible to see much more than a knight’s eyes. Without a coat of arms, it would be impossible to know who was friend and who was foe.
  • Allegiance – Creating a coat of arms also made it possible for people to pledge their allegiance to a certain family and understand the history of that family all in one fell swoop. As you’ll see if you choose to create a coat of arms with us here at Fine Legacy, each element of the coat of arms represents an aspect of your ancestry.
  • Motivation – People have always liked to rally behind a cause, a symbol. When far away from home, battle-worn and starving, the sight of their coat of arms flying high would help to motivate knights to keep fighting.

Why Should Modern Families Should Create A Coat Of Arms?

You’re obviously not a knight or nobleman, so why should you create a coat of arms for your family? Many of the principles that made them popular in the Middle Ages still ring true today. A coat of arms will encourage unity, pride, and respect for history in your family, creating common ground between younger and older generations. Something we could all use more of these days!

Start creating your coat of arms today.

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