The four main devices (symbols) in the Haughton blazon are the bar, mullet, covered cup and owl. The two main tinctures (colors) are sable and argent.
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 1. 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 2. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 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.
The bar is a thin, horizontal stripe across the centre of the shield 6, usually in groups of two or three (any more and there would be confusion with barry, a treatment of horizontal lines of alternating colours). Bars can be a distinctive and easily recognised device, early examples include those awarded by Henry III of England to the family MAUDYT Argent, two bars gules.
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” 7. 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 8. 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” 9.
Cups of all kinds have been popular charges on coats of arms since at least the 14th century. 10 In appearance and description they range from simple drinking pots (GERIARE of Lincoln – Argent three drinking pots sable) to covered cups, more like chalices in appearance. 11. These were borne by the BUTLER family in reference to their name and Wade suggests that their appearance may also refer to holy communinion within the church. 12