The four main devices (symbols) in the Atwater blazon are the swan, lion with two bodies, crevice and rose. The three main tinctures (colors) are vert, gules and argent .
The deep green colour that is so often observed in heraldry is more properly known as vert. According to Wade, the use of this colour signifies “Hope and Joy”, but may also represent, rather delightfully, “Loyalty in Love” 1. It has other names also, the French call it sinople, perhaps after a town in Asia Minor from where the best green die materials could be found 2. More fanciful heralds liked to associate it with the planet venus and the precious stone emerald 3. More strangely, there is some evidence that the term prasin was anciently used, being the Greek for the vegetable we call the Leek!
Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”4. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries 5. Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone.6.
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 7. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 8.
Wade suggests that the appearance of a swan in a coat of arms is perhaps an indication of a musical person, or a “ lover of poetry and harmony”. 9 It is generally shown in a lifelike aspect and colouring, although it may be leaked and legged with other colours. 10. It is a popular charge, both on the shield itself and impress, sometimes sitting and sometimes rising as if about to take off in flight. 11
The art of heraldry would be significantly poorer if we were without the lion in all its forms. Most general works on Heraldry devote at least one chapter solely to this magnificent creature and its multifarious depictions 12 13 14. Some of the earliest known examples of heraldry, dating right back to the knighting of Geoffrey of Anjou in 1127, where he is shown with six such beasts upon his shield 15 .The great authority on heraldic symbology, Wade, points out the high place that the lion holds in heraldry, “as the emblem of deathless courage” 16, a sentiment echoed equally today.
Also crevice (crayfish) Fish in great variety abound in Heraldry, many different species inhabit coats of arms 17, although truth be told many of the actual images are sometimes indistinguishable, being shown as a stylised, and easily recognised “trout” shape 18 that a child might draw. The actual name used in the coat of arms may be some play-on-words or allusion to the family name, as in the famous arms of the de Lucy family, being “Gules, three lucies or”, 19 this being an ancient name for the fish we call today a “pike”. It is possible that the lobster has been used in this fashion, or it may simply relate to some fishing activity in the history of the family.