The four main devices (symbols) in the Dunphy blazon are the fox, mull, crown and pelican in her piety. The three main tinctures (colors) are vert, or 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!
Or is the heraldic metal Gold, often shown as a bold, bright yellow colour. It is said to show “Generosity and elevation of the mind” 4. Later heralds, of a more poetic nature liked to refer to it as Topaz, after the gemstone, and, for obvious reasons associated it with the Sun 5. In drawings without colour it is usually represented by many small dots, or by the letter ‘O’ 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.
The fox occurs frequently in arms, possibly a reference to the enjoyment of the hunt. It certainly holds no negative connotations but should be seen as a creature of great “wit and facility of device” (“as cunning as a fox”). 9 It can appear at first glance quite similar to the wolf but should be smaller, with a bushier tail, kept low to the ground. 10
The heraldic mullet, not to be confused with the fish of that name, is shown as a regular, five pointed star. This was originally, not an astronomical object, but represented the spur on a horseman’s boot, especially when peirced, with a small circular hole in the centre it represents a type of spur known as a “rowel” 11. A clear example can be found in the arms of Harpendene, argent, a mullet pierced gules. The ancient writer Guillim associated such spurs in gold as belonging to the Knight, and the silver to their esquires 12. In later years, Wade linked this five pointed star with the true celestial object, the estoile and termed it a “falling star”, symbolising a “divine quality bestowed from above” 13.
Crowns are frequently observed in Heraldry 14, but we should not make the mistake of assuming that these are always on Royal arms 15. Many of the orders of nobility across Europe were entitled to wear crowns and coronets, Dukes, Earls, Viscounts and Barons in England each had their own distinctive headwear 16. The crown is an example of this. It may also be the case that a crown is added to an existing coat of arms as an augmentation in recognition of some service to a King 17.