Three of the main heraldic symbols depicted within the Jefferson Coat of Arms (incorrectly referred to as the Jefferson Family Crest or Jefferson Family Shield) are the saltire, bezant, and leopard’s face, each which have their own unique meaning. The primary tincture (color) is azure (blue), which signifies loyalty, truth, faith, strength, and chastity. However, the following caveat should be mentioned: some heraldry experts believe a great deal of the symbolism of heraldry is more so a romantic invention of the Victorian era as opposed to truly historical.
The saltire is one the major ordinaries, large charges that occupy the whole of the field. Arguably one of the best uses of this device is that of the St. Andrews Cross, a white saltire on a blue background found on the Scottish flag. The saltire is obviously closely related to the Cross, and Wade in his work on Heraldic Symbology suggests additionally that it alludes to “Resolution”, whilst Guillim, an even more ancient writer, somewhat fancifully argues that it is awarded to those who have successfully scaled the walls of towns!
For easy recognition of the items on a coat of arms, and hence the quick identification of the owner, bold simple shapes are best. Hence, simple geometric shapes are often used for this purpose, and the bezant Is a typical example of this, and in British Heraldry always takes the tincture or. It shares the same root as the name Byzantium, being associated with the gold coin of that city and indeed, in some heraldic traditions is represented as a coin-like disk in perspective. Wade suggests that the use of this device refers to ”one who had been found worthy of trust and treasure.” This symbol is similar to a roundle.
The leopard’s face (sometimes, incorrectly referred to as a leopard’s head) occurs very frequently in heraldry. Early heraldic artists tended to treat lions and leopards as the same animal, but during the development of British Heraldry the heads of the two creatures have adopted separate, and more realistic forms. Wade would have us associate leopards with warriors, especially those who overcome “hazardous things by force and courage”. In ancient Egypt, priests wore leopard skins to ward off evil spirits. In ancient Greece, the god Dionysus is often depicted riding a leopard and/or wearing its skin. In ancient times, the leopard was called “the Great Watcher” as the many spots represented eyes.