The three main devices (symbols) in the Denham blazon are the crane, fusil and martlet. The three main tinctures (colors) are or, argent and gules .
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.1. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa 2. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.3.
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) 4. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5.
Red in heraldry is given the name Gules, sometimes said to be the “martyr’s colour”6. The colour is also associated with Mars, the red planet, and the zodiacal sign Aries 7. Later heralds of a more poetical nature would sometimes refer to the colour as ruby, after the precious stone.8.
Birds of great variety occur throughout heraldry, at least in name 9. In truth, despite the proliferation of species, the actual depictions can sometimes be hard to distinguish! The crane, heron and stork are commonly to be found on a coat of arms but all tend to share the same stylised appearance 10. Guillim reckons the stork to the “emblem of filial duty” and also the “symbol of a grateful man”. 11
The fusil is a shape rather like a lozenge but taller and narrower, hence fusily refers to a field of similar shapes arranged in a regulat pattern. 12 It is though that the shape originally derived from that of a spindle of yarn. Wade believes that the symbol is of very great age and quotes an earlier writer, Morgan who ascribes it the meaning of “Negotiation”. 13
The martlett is by far the most common bird to appear in British Heraldry, perhaps only equalled by the eagle, however it is not a species ever to be found in an ornithologists handbook! The word itself is though to have come from the French word merlette, the female blackbird and itself a similar type of charge used in French Heraldry. 14. Over time the image has become quite stylised, without visible legs or distinctive feathers. Wade suggests that this representation arises from “the appearance of the bird of paradise to ancient travellers” 15. Other bird species may be named in coats of arms (cornish chough is a frequent example) but in actual execution their appearance is often indistinguishable from the martlet.