Ordinary of arms

An ordinary of arms (or simply an ordinary) is a roll or register of coats of arms arranged systematically by design, with coats featuring the same principal elements (geometrical ordinaries and charges) grouped together.[1][2] The purpose of an ordinary is to facilitate the identification of the bearer of a coat of arms from visual evidence alone.

Thomas Jenyns' Book, an English ordinary of arms compiled in c.1398. This page shows a sequence of coats of arms featuring lions rampant. British Library, Add. MS 40851.

Ordinaries may take a form which is either graphic (consisting of a series of painted or drawn images of shields) or textual (consisting of blazons – verbal descriptions – of the coats). Most medieval and early modern manuscript ordinaries were graphic, whereas all the principal modern published ordinaries have been textual. A knowledge of the technicalities of blazon is essential for the student hoping to make best use of a textual ordinary.

By extension, ordinaries may also be compiled of other elements of heraldic display, such as crests, supporters or badges.[3]

Share this article:

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Ordinary of arms, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.