The three main devices (symbols) in the Marjoribanks blazon are the mullet, cushion and spur rowel. The two main tinctures (colors) are gules and argent.
The bold red colour on a heraldic shield is known as gules. It has a long history within heraldry, it is known that one of those who besieged the scottish castle of Carlaverock in 1300 was the French knight Euremions de la Brette who had as his arms a simple red shield.1The Siege of Carlaverock, N. Harris, Nichols & Son, London, 1828, P180. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” 2Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 313. Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron 3Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53, perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.
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) 4Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11.
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” 6Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 97. 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 7A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P107. 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” 8The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P105.
Although we expect to find fierce creatures and fearsome weapons depicted in a coat of arms this is not always the case – sometimes simple household objects are used 9A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P281. The Cushion is a typical example of this. Sometimes these objects were chosen for the familiarity they would have for the obsever, helping them identify the owner, and sometimes they were used because of some association with the owner, or a similarity to the family name. 10Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 100 The cushion is typically decpicted as square, with a tassle at each corner and may also have some other device upon them. 11A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:cushion
The word spur as a noun indicates a spike on the back of horseman’s boot to goad a horse into action, and for the same reason as a verb it signifies “encouraging action”. Because of this, Guillim assigns the meaning “press onward” to the prescence of a spur in a coat of arms. 12A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P256 It can be depicted either as the full item, with connections to the boot, or just as the star-shaped spur rowel which contains the spikes. 13A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Spur