Coats of arms were first used in feudal times by knights and lords as a way to identify allied and enemy soldiers during battle. As time progressed the use of coats of arms expanded and they began to be adopted by merchants, shops, priests, towns and even run-of-the-mill families to seal and authenticate documents. Naturally, the publishing industry has also used coats of arms when decorating covers of books about the nobility and long-standing organizations.
Unlike seals or other general emblems, coats of arms are designed using a very specific set of rules more commonly known as heraldry. In the British heraldic traditions, a coat of arms is associated with an individual and no two people could have the exact same coat of arms.
Over the years, decedents and family relations were required to distinguish their arms from the ancestral arms by some difference, usually a change of color change or addition of some extra emblem or icon. These rules mean heraldry can be used as a method of genealogical research.
Today, coats of arms are still widely used by nations, cities and regions as well as by various institutions such as clubs, universities and businesses. Enjoy this journey through the coats of arms found on and in books.
Une Saison A Aix-Les-Bains
Louis Amédée Achard
A detailed description of the resort Aix-les-Bains in the Rhône-Alpes region of France.
A military history, with a gilded coat of arms on the cover, from 1889.
Heraldry in War: Formation Badges 1939-1945
An illustrated guide to badges of the British military in World War II.
A Manual of Heraldry, Historical and Popular
A manual that describe the rules of heraldry
Harry Wright Newman
A compilation of Maryland families that used coats of arms in colonial and early post-revolutionary periods.
Flowers and Heraldry
Various examples of arms involving the use of flowers
Hot Irons; Heraldry of the Range
A description of how cattle branding uses various elements of heraldry.
Containing the true art of blazon, includes achievements of the most renowned surnames and families in Scotland
Another manual explaining the the use of arms, heraldic terms, blazoning and coats of armour.
European Civic Coats of Arms
An insight into civic heraldry around Europe, including color illustrations.
Heraldry of Fish
A book revealing how many famous families have put fish into their coats of arms.
Symbols of Our Celto-Saxon Heritage
This book is devoted to the study of heraldic emblems of the nations and tribes of Israel
The Grammar of Heraldry
This book includes more rules and a large collection of arms.
A Treatise on Heraldry British and Foreign
Includes both English and French glossaries
Suffolcia Vernacule Suffolke
A map of the English county of Suffolk with 10 coats of arms along top edge.
The Heraldry of the Knights of St. John
A comprehensive history of the order and its arms with illustrated examples
E. De V Vermont
A compilation of coats of arms, crests and mottos from prominent American families prior to 1800.
Coats of Arms of the States of the U.S.
A map from Johnson's New Illustrated Family Atlas of the World printed in 1870.
La Maison Royale des Deux Siciles
Marqués de Villarreal De Alava
A book about the royal house of Sicily.
Ciencia Heroyca reducida a las Leyes Heráldicas del Blasón
Marqués de Avilés
The science and laws of heraldry with examples of many coats of arms.
A complete dictionary of heraldic terms.
Il Blasone in Sicilia
Vincenzo Palizzolo Gravina
The coats of arms found in Sicily.
Leitfaden der Heraldik
Alfred von Keller
A German guide to heraldry.
A Display of Heraldry
John Guillim & John Logan
Many examples of heraldry with examples of woodcuts on almost every page.
The well-known Emblem book by Schoonhovius in a beautiful Italian armorial binding
Fine emblem-book, the emblems designed and engraved by Crispijn de Passe.
Rev. Charles Boutell
One of the most popular general texts on the subject, first published in 1863.
The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales
Sir Bernard Burke
A registry of armorial designs from the earliest period to modern times.
The Heraldic Imagination
This history of contains an abundance of previously unpublished photographs and line drawings
The Art of the Heraldry
Arthur Charles Fox-Davies
Fox-Davies’ writing illustrates heraldry’s involvement in art, history and also law.
Heraldry: Sources, Symbols and Meaning
An extensive and thorough display of heraldic devices and historical illustrations