The four main devices (symbols) in the Hamerton blazon are the hammer, chevron, trefoil and lion. The two main tinctures (colors) are argent and sable.
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) 1. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 2.
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 3. 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 4. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 5.
It is important that a coat of arms be easily recognised and so everyday objects were frequently used as clearly identifiable charges – tools 6 being a common and important example of these, of which the hammer is typical. Some of these tools are rather obscure to modern eyes, who of us nowadays would recognise a hemp-break 7, let alone know what to use it for! The hammer is usually drawn conventionally, with a wooden handle and large metal head. 8
The chevron is one the major shapes used upon a shield, known as ordinaries. The inverted ‘V’ of the chevron is perhaps thought to have originated to represent a military scarf folded on the shield 9, or additional cross-pieces used to strengthen the shield and painted a different colour.10. It has also acquired the meaning of “Protection… granted… to one who has achieved some notable enterprise” 11, possibly becuase of its resemblance to the roof truss of a house.
Natural objects abound in heraldry, and one category that gives especial delight are the many flowers and flowering plants that frequently occur 12. The trefoil may originally been a representation of a specific plant (perhaps shamrock) but it has been used as a symbol almost since the beginning of heraldry and over time has adopted a stylised aspect. 13. Guillim believes that it signifies “perpetuity…the just man shall never wither”. 14