Monday, February 8, 2010

A Coat of Arms

We Americans seem to fascinated with having a coat of arms or crest. The crest is a small part of the coat of arms. There are several websites that are more than happy to sell you a family coat of arms. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a family coat of arms. A coat of arms belongs to an individual. When the bearer of the coat of arms dies, his first born son inherits the coat of arms. With the exception of the Dutch, generally females do not have a coat of arms. Elizabeth I, Victoria and Elizabeth II of England are noted exceptions. Several European countries have an organization that keeps track of the bearer of a coat of arms. In Canada this organization is called the Canadian Heraldic Authority. In England is the College of Arms and the Court of Lord Lyon in Scotland. Other European countries have counterpart groups to protect the acknowledged bearer of arms. Each coat of arms is protected like a US patent or a registered trademark. The concept of a coat of arms is based on an aristocracy. The king can grant a coat of arms and take away a coat of arms. From the inception of the United States, a coat of arms has not existed here. The government, colleges, cities, counties, states, companies and some organizations have a seal. This is the closest thing to a coat of arms that we as a country embrace. Many American families have been duped into believing that their family has a coat of arms or a crest.

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