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tline3open  Armorials or Crests on American Coin Silver

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Author Topic:   Armorials or Crests on American Coin Silver

Posts: 61
Registered: Feb 2003

iconnumber posted 11-01-2003 07:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for avalata     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

I am trying to find out more about the various armorials or crests on some of my antique silver, and haven't gotten very far or been recommended a good reference for American heraldry.

Some of the armorials are more commonly seen, e.g. birds of prey or busts of animals; some are more specific, e.g. a standing Hercules or bust of Hercules, or a hand grasping a dagger piercing a wreath. With the exception of one Joseph Lownes piece, none of these is likely to be a replacement for an English set. All of the pieces I have currently are from New York and Philadelphia, ranging in date from 1790 to 1840.

Has any research been done to document the various crests and armorials used on silver, porcelain, etc. by leading American families? Are most documented armorials known because of provenance of the piece?


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Bill H

Posts: 31
Registered: Jan 2002

iconnumber posted 11-01-2003 10:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bill H     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Two reference books which may be of assitance:

Colonial Families of the United States of America edited by George Norbury Mackenzie and printed by The Grafton Press 1907

Matthews' American Amoury and Blue Book Edied and Published by John Matthews in London 1907.

Both volumes include detail drawings of American armory as well family names and relationships.

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Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 11-11-2003 07:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another book is Heraldry in America by Eugene Zieber. Originally published in 1895, it was republished in 1984 by Crown Books under their Greenwich Press label. It has a chapter on Pennsylvania families, as well as general information.

Most American families that used heraldic devices were of English origin. Since Heraldry has its roots in Royalty and is a formal custom tightly governed in England, Scotland and Ireland, there is (was) no formal or official American Heraldry, and no rules governing its use. In Britain arms were (are) ganted to individuals, but in America their use has devolved to families.

Because of the English derivation of heraldic devices and symbols, a book like Fairbairn's Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland would be the most useful. It illustrates over 2,000 crests and symbols. A low cost edition was published in 1986 by Bonanza Books, and copies are plentiful on the used book market.

[This message has been edited by swarter (edited 11-11-2003).]

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