The four main devices (symbols) in the Mercier blazon are the boar, crescent, border engrailed and huntsman. The two main tinctures (colors) are or and gules.
The bright yellow colour frequently found in coats of arms is known to heralds as Or, or sometimes simply as Gold.1Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 27. Along with, argent, or silver it forms the two “metals” of heraldry – one of the guidelines of heraldic design is that silver objects should not be placed upon gold fields and vice versa 2A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P85. The yellow colour is often associated with the Sun, and the zodiacal sign of Leo.3Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53.
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.4The Siege of Carlaverock, N. Harris, Nichols & Son, London, 1828, P180. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” 5Boutell’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 6Understanding 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.
In the middle ages, the wild boar, a far more fearsome creature than its domesticated relative, the pig was a much more commonly seen animal than today. It was also known as a sanglier. 7Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 72 It can appear in many of the same poses that we see for the lion, but has its own (easily imagined!) position known as enraged! 8A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Boar We should not be surprised then that this “fierce combatant” is said to be associated with the warrior. 9The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P67
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 10A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P146xz`, and the crescent Is a typical example of this, and can appear in any of the main heraldic tinctures. Some common is this device that there are special names for its appearance in various orientations – whilst it lies normally with points upward, the decrescent points to the sinister side, and the increscent to the dexter 11A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Moon. The allusion, obviously is to the shape of the moon in the sky (indeed, the French have a version “figuré” which includes a face!) and has been said to signify both “honour by the sovereign” and “hope of greater glory” 12The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P106.
The border, (sometimes bordure) is a band running around the edge of the shield, following the edge contours and being differently coloured, possibly holding a series of small charges placed on top of it 13A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Bordure. To distinguish it from similar arms, heraldic artists developed a series of decorative edges (obviously these are applied only to the inner edge). A common form of this patterning, engrailed is a series of scalloped indentations with the points facing outwards – and should not be confused with invected, which has the points facing inwards! Wade believes that both of these indented forms represent “earth or land”, and one perhaps can indeed see the furrowed earth embodied in them.