The three main devices (symbols) in the Nicol blazon are the mascle, ship and quadrant . The two main tinctures (colors) are azure and argent.
Azure is the heraldic colour blue, usually quite a deep, dark shade of the colour (there is a lighter blue that sometimes occurs, known as celestial azure). If colour printing is not available then it can be represented by closely spaced horizontal lines in a scheme known as “hatching” 1Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26. The word is thought to originate from the Arabic lazura and it represents the colour of the eastern sky. It is also said to be the colour associated by the Catholic Church with the Virgin Mary and hence of particular significance 2The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P150.
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) 3Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 4A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11.
The mascle is a close relative of the lozenge or diamond shape, but with the centre cut away revealing the background underneath. 5A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Mascle. Guillim, writing in the 17th century reckoned the mascle to represent the mesh of a net, being the biblical symbol for “persuasion, whereby men are induced to virtue and verity”. 6A Display of Heraldry, J. Guillim, Blome, London, 1679, P234
We do not need to look far to find the symbolism in the presence of a ship in a coat of arms, they appear regularly in the arms of port towns and merchant companies and families. They usually appear as a three masted wooden vessel known as a lymphad 7A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Shiop but are often described in some detail as to the disposition of their sails, presence and colours of flags and standards and so on. 8A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P294
Quadrant in heraldic use refers not to the geometrical figure, but to the navigational device 9A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Hercules. It is a very rare charge and probably specifically used to refer to some sea-faring or navigational feat in the holder’s past. ARMSTRONG of Scotland includes a figure of Hercules sighting a star with a quadrant.