Frequently Asked Questions
Custom Coats of Arms and Crests Questions
- What is the Cost?
The cost will depend upon the amount of original artwork involved, but it usually ranges from US$ 175.00 to $ 325.00. The base fee is for one design concept.
- Have a design you would like for us to recreate or modify?
Yes, we can redraw or modify a design that you already have, whether it's a traditional coat of arms or a more modern logo design. We can convert it into vector art that can be enlarged without losing resolution. Please understand that a painted design cannot be redrawn in vector art to precisely match the original due to the subtle color variations and brush strokes that make a painted work of art unique.
- How long does it take to get a design completed?
The process usually takes anywhere from 10 days to three weeks, depending upon our workload and the extensiveness of the artwork or revisions and the complexity of the design. Rush orders, which are usually posted within two business days, are available for an extra US$ 45.00.
- Who Owns the Artwork?
The completed design becomes your property once we receive payment for the balance. We maintain the design in our database for any future changes or uses you may request. We only reserve the right to use sample designs for promotional purposes, unless you request that we do not use your particular design, which request we will gladly honor.
- Why are there choices for mantlings and helmets?
The only part of a traditional coat of arms and crest that are unique to any given name are the elements and colors that appear on the shield and in the crest (the part above the helmet) and, if available, the motto. The helmet is occasionally specified, but usually it is not. Occasionally supporters are described. The shield shape, the mantling (the flowery design around the shield), the torse, and the helmet are subject to the discretion of the heraldic artist or the preference of the bearer. Heraldic artists in this century prepare designs based on "Blazons" or descriptions listed in several authoritative reference books. These blazons usually describe the shield, the crest, and the motto -- nothing else. Indeed, ancient coats of arms often featured only the shield. Very few coats of arms have survived in graphic form showing the shield shape, mantling, and helmet of the design used by the original bearer; in most cases, only the "blazons" or descriptions remain.
As for the charges and other elements that appear on the shield or above the helm, there are certain commonly accepted designs for many of them that have evolved over the last two centuries, but in most cases no one knows precisely what the original artist had in mind. For example, when he drew a "lion rampant gules," there is designated positioning for the lion's arms and legs as well as his general body posture (rampant), but the precise drawing of the face, fur, claws, etc. is open to interpretation. In fact, in most cases the modern interpretation is much more pleasing to the eye because the original artists were not trying to design works of art, and often the charges and elements were quite simplistic. For more information, visit our web page at: http://www.fleurdelis.com/coatofarms.htm
- Why are there several coats of arms for some names?
Coats of arms are awarded to an individual, not to a family or a name. For example, Sir Francis Drake's coat of arms looks different from that awarded to someone named Drake from Devonshire. Any company that claims to provide you with THE coat of arms for your family name is misleading you (unless you can trace your heritage to a specific person to whom a coat of arms was awarded). For more information, try our web page: http://www.fleurdelis.com/nofamilycrest.htm
You can try to narrow the search by geographic region of origin, but there may also be more than one coat of arms awarded to several people in ancient Germany. Further complicating the issue is that the authoritative source information for most coats of arms only lists a city and/or county or origin, and sometimes only a country. That is why, unless you can trace (and document) your family history to one individual, and unless the sources list that individual, then your use of a coat of arms could be a violation of some countries' regulations. You might want to try to find a coat of arms that is the oldest for your name from a given region or the one most frequently used, and then use some of those design elements to create your own coat of arms. Coats of arms usually started out fairly simple in design, then subsequent generations added onto or made slight variations to the design to make it their own. Marriages often resulted in a combination of two different family lines' coats of arms.
You can also try contacting the College of Arms for the country you believe your ancestor is from, and for a fee they will search their records to see if a coat of arms was awarded to your ancestor. The origin and use of surnames has varied significantly from region to region over the past 800 years, and spelling alterations have developed as a matter of course. Whether by personal choice or by clerical error, there are several different variations of spellings for many surnames. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century are legendary, i.e., Bauch became Baugh, Micsza became McShea, Siminowicz became Simmons, etc. Many immigrants also deliberately Anglicized their names, i.e., Schwarz became Black.
- What is the difference between a coat of arms and a family crest?
The crest is the part of the entire "achievement" or "coat of arms" that appears above the helmet and shield. Confusion over the term "family crest" probably arose from an understandable abbreviation of the terminology in heraldry for an important part of a coat of arms. One of the most respected sources for heraldry information is Fairbairn's Book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, first published in 1859 and revised over the years in various reprints. (The current version is published by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland.)
It is not difficult to see how the use of the term "crest" could have become synonymous in common use with the term "coat of arms" since one is a part of the other and, through time, "the crest" has been associated with family names, independent of the coat of arms, in such publications as Fairbairn's. Indeed, crests have been used on engravings, rings, bookplates, and other means of displaying one's heritage for many years. Perhaps this is due to their relative simplicity in relation to the full coat of arms. However, authorities claim that they were never intended to be used alone, without the remainder of the official coat of arms. A previous editor of that esteemed Fairbairn book described the crest as "that part of the complete achievement which is placed upon and surmounts the coronet, wreath, or chapeau, which in its turn is above the mantling or lambrequin which it is supposed to attach to the helmet." For more information and an illustration, please see: http://www.fleurdelis.com/coatofarms.htm
- Is it legal to use a coat of arms?
The bearing of coats of arms is not regulated in most countries, including the United States, thus there has been a proliferation of "family name" companies offering histories and coats of arms for a given surname. Displaying a coat of arms associated with someone centuries ago who shared our surname is merely a decoration -- it is not appropriate to consider this to be "our" coat of arms. There is no reason we cannot create a coat of arms and crest for ourselves, whether based on the coat of arms of an ancestor who shared our name (and may or may not be related to us), or designed from scratch to mean something special to our own lives and family.
- Why do some coats of arms have lines and dots instead of colors?
"Hatching" is the term for representing the colors of a coat of arms in black and white. This was necessary when color printing was excessively expensive. See our Hatching page for more information.
- What products can I order bearing my new custom design?
We offer a blazon of arms certificate suitable for framing as well as a 9" shield-shaped plaque. Products for Your Custom Design
- Can I have the design embroidered on clothing and accessories?
Please see our web page about embroidery services: Embroidery
- What symbols should I choose?
You may want to review the "Symbolism in Heraldry" page we have organized in order to select what will appear on the shield and crest. You can also choose your own shield shape, mantling, helmet, and more!
- How Do I Get Started?
(1) Review the "Symbolism in Heraldry" page to select what you want to see on the shield and crest.
(2) Review basic guidelines to keep in mind.
(3) Go to our Custom Design Order Form -- it will walk you through all the choices.
(4) We will charge a deposit before we assign the work to an artist.
(5) Look for an e-mail from us with a link to a preview page.
(6) Describe for us any changes you would like to have made -- your first set of revisions is included in the original estimate.
(7) When you are happy with the final design, we'll charge the balance due (or send you an invoice) and send you your images.
VOILA! You'll have your new design ready to use on letterhead, business cards, clothing, other promotional materials, web sites, etc.
- How do you communicate?
We prefer to communicate via e-mail so that we can use our time as efficiently as possible and have a paper trail to minimize miscommunications. We will respond to your request as quickly as possible, usually within a few business days. We want to give each and every order our personal attention. This is a secure site -- all transactions are encrypted.