The four main devices (symbols) in the Geiger blazon are the violin, wings, lion rampant and mortar. The three main tinctures (colors) are gules, sable and azure .
Gules, the heraldic colour red is very popular, sometimes said to represent “Military Fortitude and Magnanimity”1. It is usually abbreviated as gu and in the days before colour printing was shown in a system known as hatching by vertical lines 2. Although it may look like a French word it is normally pronounced with a hard “g” and may be derived either from the Latin gula (throat) or Arabic gule (rose).3
Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur 4. In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known 5. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 6.
The bright, strong blue color in Heraldry is known in English as azure, and similarly in other European languages – azul in Spanish, azurro in Italian and azur in French. The word has its roots in the Arabic word lazura, also the source of the name of the precious stone lapis lazuli 7. Despite this, those heralds who liked to associate colours with jewels chose instead to describe blue as Sapphire. According to Wade, the use of this colour symbolises “Loyalty and Truth” 8.
Music was as popular in the middle ages as it is today and musical instruments are frequently to be found in coats of arms 9. Sometimes these are a “play on words” such as the trumpets appearing for Trumpington 10, but sometimes just for the pleasure and ease of identification that these objects allow. The violin is an example of this. In common with most instruments, Wade believes that the symbology of these devices is “ready for the fray”. 11
Wings are frequently observed in coats of arms. Unless otherwise specified they should be shown as eagle’s wings, with a realistic appearance. 12 They can appear singly or in pairs, in which form they are very often found in the crest, which rests above the shield in a full achievement of arms. Wade, quoting Quillim, suggests that the use of the wing on the shield signifies “celerity and protection or covering”. 13
There can be no animal more clearly associated with Heraldry than the lion, majestic King of the Beasts. Originally it appeared only in one pose, erect, on one paw, with the others raised 14 but such was the popularity of this figure, and the need to distinguish arms from each other, that it soon came to be shown in an enormous range of forms 15. The lion rampant is an example of these modified form, and any family would be proud to have such a noble creature displayed on their arms. Rampant is the default attitude of the lion, raised on its hind legs, facing to the dexter and with front paws extended in a fearsome and powerful pose.