When Genealogical Publishing Company began reprinting books in the 1950s, a number of its earliest publications were devoted to heraldry. In fact, the Company has more than 20 titles on heraldry in the catalogue. Coats-of-arms continue to intrigue individuals both artistically and genealogically. According to Heather Child, “In an age when people are surfeited with too much printed matter, it is a relief to turn to a vivid picture language such as heraldry, with its framework of rules, variety of detail and romantic historical associations.” (To add a cautionary note here, some persons may overlook the rule of primogeniture that governs the inheritance of noble titles and their arms. In fact, when a knight or count died, all rights to his title were passed on entirely to his eldest son. None of his other children inherited that ranking or its accoutrements. This practice of primogeniture continued with each succeeding generation.)
Genealogical Publishing Company has just re-issued one of the best introductions to that field ever published: SHIELD AND CREST: An Account of the Art and Science of Heraldry. 3rd Edition, by Julian Franklin. While this work is mainly devoted to British heraldry—its development and usage, with accounts of the shields, crests, charges, banners, helmets, devices, orders of chivalry, language, and so forth—it contains much material that cannot be found elsewhere, such as important information on heraldry in the U.S., South Africa, and Japan. The entirety of the work is profusely illustrated with inset shields and heraldic devices, including sixteen full-page plates with nearly 200 coats-of-arms!
Image credit: US Seal Coat of Arms, via Wikimedia Commons.