Many persons, unacquainted with heraldry, experience great difficulty in ascertaining their proper family-arms; and very often, no doubt,
those who are fairly entitled to hereditary coat-armour are induced to assume
any bearing belonging to their name, however mistaken, it may be, because it
has been assigned to them by some coach painter, seal cutter, or engraver. By
these means, there must be numerous instances in which gentlemen exhibit on
their carriages, their seals and their plate, arms, with their crests and
mottoes, which appertain to different families, although of the same name. This
is, in fact, a very common abuse of an useful object, in this country; and an
error into which persons entitled to hereditary coat-armour are too often
Every man, therefore, who holds a respectable standing in
society must be desirous not only of avoiding, in the first instance, mistakes
of this nature; but of having them rectified, as speedily and as far as
possible, after it shall be discovered that they have been actually committed.
Because, independently of the consideration, that no person of reputable
character would wish to use, and thereby probably perpetuate in his family, any
armorial insignia, which might evidently appear to be the right of
another - every abuse of this sort tends to diminish the usefulness of
coat-armour, in an important particular: - it thus loses its aptitude to serve as
a permanent badge of discrimination between families of different lineage
bearing the same name; and it also ceases to be an useful mean of determining
the rights of inheritable property, in cases of descent.
- William Barton, Esq., 1814
American College of Heraldry
is a Chartered, non-profit body established in 1972, with the aim
of aiding in the study and perpetuation of heraldry in the United
States and abroad.
Registrations are restricted by policy to American citizens or residents, as
well as to others with significant personal or business connections in America.*
* Note - for non-US citizens who wish to affiliate with The American College of Heraldry, as of 1 January 2018:
- We accept membership from anyone, American or otherwise.
- We accept the registration of arms of any member, American or International, as a benefit of membership under the following conditions:
- If the potential registrant is a citizen of a country with an Heraldic Authority, then their arms must be granted by that Authority. If they have not obtained arms from their own country's granting authority, they would be encouraged to straighten out that situation prior to our registering any armorial bearings.
- If the potential registrant is a citizen of a country without an Heraldic Authority, and they have assumed arms, then we would register their arms IF they join the ACH as members.
- If a person has legitimately granted arms from a recognized international Heraldic Authority, and wishes to register them with us - but does not wish to have membership - we will still register such GRANTED arms.
FIRST TIME HERE?
Please visit our FAQ page
before submitting any designs or questions.
Heraldry is at once both an art and a science. Its origins are rooted in the social and political structure which existed in Europe and the British Isles from about the year 1100 A.D. However, far from being an obsolete relic of a bygone era, heraldry has rather emerged as a vibrant and growing cultural
form. Legitimate coats of arms are
more widely used throughout the world today than ever before in history.
The notorious "Coat of arms for the Name of Jones, Smith, or whatever," purchasable by mail order or in one's local shopping mall, represents no more than improper and illegitimate armorial bearings.
A large and rapidly growing number of Americans rightfully bear coats of arms. Many of these were granted, certified, registered or otherwise recognized by armorial authorities abroad, and a sizable number of these have been registered by their owners with The American College of Heraldry. In addition,
the College has assisted many persons
in designing a new coat of arms for their use which is then properly registered and published. An increasing number of corporate bodies have also acquired coats of arms which they display on armorial flags and in place of the less distinctive logo which is so rapidly outdated in terms of artistic style and structure.
While Americans are usually fascinated by the beauty of heraldry, they are rarely familiar with its meaning and traditions and, therefore, often misunderstand and even abuse this rich cultural heritage. They seldom understand that a coat of arms is usually granted, certified, registered or otherwise
recognized as belonging to one individual
alone, and that only his direct descendants with proven lineage can be recognized as eligible to inherit the arms. Exceptions to this rule are rare. It is highly inappropriate for one to locate the arms of another person sharing the same surname, and to simply adopt and use these arms as one's own. In order to properly claim the right to existing arms, one should approach an office of arms offering genealogical proof of proper kinship, and to receive confirmation of the right to bear the arms and thus to be recognized
by the heraldic community as legitimately bearing the arms.
The notorious "Coat of arms for the Name of Jones,
Smith, or whatever," purchasable by mail order or in one's local shopping mall,
represents no more than improper and illegitimate armorial
bearings. To buy and bear these commercially produced arms is to claim for oneself a direct kinship which has only the most remote possibility of validity, and is thereby to deny one's own legitimate and rightful line of descent. Such infraction of armorial regulation and custom constitutes a flagrant abuse of arms which no knowledgeable and honorable person would intentionally commit.
Sadly, most of the heraldic abuse in this country is done by honest, well-meaning persons. They greatly admire the heraldic tradition, but in their desire to participate in that tradition they inadvertently abuse heraldic arms due to their lack of familiarity with
heraldic regulations and customs.
While such armorial abuse does not apparently
violate state or federal statute in this country at this time, still to usurp the use of another person's coat of arms is highly improper and is a dishonest practice. Such conduct disregards the regulations of all recognized heraldry and violates the rights of the legitimate owners of the arms
GRANT VS. REGISTRATION
Or, "Why should I bother paying you to 'register' armorial bearings?"
As an update to our members, and potential registrants, we provide here current costs, comparing the cost of REGISTRATION with our own organization versus receiving a GRANT of Arms from an international body (e.g. The College of Arms [England], The Court of The Lord Lyon [Scotland], etc.). We are certainly not downplaying the significance or importance of an actual GRANT of Arms, but one must
really take under consideration the cost of the "product" received versus (essentially) the same item (a frameable piece of paper, published and recorded, with the ability to pass same down to all future generations).
“I understand what the College does. How much does a Registration of Arms cost?”
Currently, the total fee for REGISTRATION of Arms with our organization – whether one wishes to merely register Arms granted by another legitimate heraldic authority, or chooses
to have the College aid in the design and execution of wholly new Arms – is US$325, payable to The American College of Heraldry, whether by PayPal, credit card, personal check, or money order. This includes a color certificate of the REGISTRATION of Arms, as well as a Black & White line art drawing suitable for use on stationery, etc., by the armiger.
On request, we can also supply a Black & White TIF file, as well as a Color JPG, of the registered Arms.
Further, the Arms would appear in the College’s quarterly, The Armiger’s News, as well as The Heraldic Register of America, a compilation of those Arms Registered with the College through a given time period, which are available for sale through the College and distributed in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format to major universities
and libraries in the U.S. and abroad. Details on REGISTRATION fees may be found on the College's website under CURRENT FEES.
As to the cost of a REGISTRATION with our organization, as opposed to a GRANT received from one of the international granting bodies, here is a breakdown of current costs (as of late 2016) from the College of Arms' [UK] website:
Personal GRANT of Arms and Crest are £5,550 (US$7,694) - The American College of Heraldry helps design and registers the same for US$325
Similar GRANT of Arms and Crest to an impersonal but non-profit making body, £11,675 (US$16,184) - The American College of Heraldry helps design and
registers the same for US$325 - no upcharge, unless supporters are added
GRANT of Arms to a commercial company, £17,325 (US$24,017) - The American College of Heraldry helps design and registers the same for US$325 - no upcharge, unless supporters are added
When a GRANT of Arms includes the Grant of a Badge or (to eligible grantees) Supporters, or the exemplification of a standard, a further fee is payable - The American College of Heraldry does not register badges
A special reduced fee (currently £6,725 – US$9,323) has been introduced for parish, town and community councils, to cover the GRANT of Arms alone, without crest - The
American College of Heraldry helps design and registers the same for US$325 – no upcharge, unless supporters are added
Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact The Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.