Press enter after choosing selection

Americans' Crests

Americans' Crests image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

The nuinber of persons using crests ftfld coats of arms in tliis country is very large, and there is no way of ascertaining how large it is. Tho American who wants a coat of arms and has not got 3ne usually adopts one which pleases his sye, without regard to any other considírations. In England supporters are selioni granted with coats of arins to any but membera of the peerage. But Amer: oans must have everytliing of the finest, and theref ore they usually take supporters to themselves. There is one very rich and famous family in this city, though of hunible origin, which displays a coat of arms with four supporters instead of the two which usually satisfy English ducal families. There is, however, a great deal of dissatisfaction with this irregular state of things. Mr. Ward McAllister, the arbiter of fashion, said it should not be tolerated. Coats of arms, he says, should be registered at a herald's office, as they are in England and other well regulated European countries. Then we should know who were entitled to them, how they got them and so forth. "I propose," said Mr. McAllister, "that the American herald's office should be established as one of the departments of the federal government at Washington. This is a very practical suggestion. The government would be able to. put a tax on annorial bearings and in that way raise a large revenue, as the English government does. It is one of the happiest ways of raising a tax I can thinlí of. Merubcrs of fashionable society and all the other persons taxed would be pleased by it, and no one, I think, can s;hov any good reason against it. "I know it is easy for you to assert that Americans have no business with coats of arms and such things because they are relies of feudalism, but that is nonsense. They are not any more harcnful relies of feudalism than many of our social customs. Fashion requires us to use them, and fashion must be obeyed. It is merely a matter of fashion. A man with a coat of arms is not likely to be a more dangerous plutocrat than a rich man without one. Besides, armorial bearings are ornamental and look well on silver and china. That is one of the best reasons for having them. "I must say a few words as to who bas the right to use them. It is not necessary that a family shonld obtain them by grant froni the English or some other European king. It is enough if they have been used since the beginning of the country's history, or for three generations. In England any respectable person not in retail trade can get a coat of arms by paying for it. "Unquestionably many younger sons cameover to this country who had a right to bear the arms of their family. Their descendants settled in different parts of the Union and are now in the fullest marmer entitled to use arms. On the other hand, many men of wealthand high social standing, 'but not of aristocratie origin, have adopted them since the practico became fashionable, as they have a perfect right to do. These families will transmit their arms to their descendants until they become as interesting as those of aristocratie European origin. 'There are some interesting anecdotes to be told of the introduction of coats of arms into the general society of this city. Of course there are a few New York families who have used them continuously since the creation of the colony, but when the practice first became general it was received with a good deal of opposition. Gordon Hamersley used to say that his crest was useful to teil him which was his earriage. Colonel Thorne, who married Miss Jauncey, went to Europe 50 years ago and established himself in Paris, living as no other American had ever done. He took the British minister through his hotel, who, after viewing its interior and its atables, turned to Colonel Thorne, exclaiming, "And you say you do all this on L12,000 a year! It is marvelous." On re turning to America to live the colonel turned out in this city postilions with his coat of arms embroidered on the left sleeve of each postilion. This created such a rumpus, the population hissing him as he drove by, that he was compelled to withdraw them. "Some of our best people were pilgrims and Huguenots, who on reaching this country and establishing themselves here abjured such vanities as coats of arms, as a monarchical institution. This was all very well in the beginning, but the blue laws have faded. We no longer cultívate primitive simplicity, but with wealth and age we turn to luxury and find among its necessities the use of coata of arms. The necessity and love of the American for title or some designation of distinction, plain Mr. 'not filling the bill,' is illustrated in the west and south. For 50 years or more it has been a universal custom to bestow a military title on all men who have nsen above mediocrity, such as governor, general, captain, colonel, it being purely honorary. Such titles men carry through life with thi3 love of ours for individual distiitction, which is one of our marked characteristics. When a man wants to Beal his letters, mark his píate or decórate his harness, he wants a crest, and as Americans with money own the universe this crest must be forthcoming. Of course it is only an accessory to the arms, and now the question is, How shall Americans get them? And how shall they be able to keep them? "Let me repeat that society would welcome the establishment of a herald's office for the better regulation of these matters." - New York World. "When you walk," says a Russian proverb, "pray once; when you go tosea, pray twice; when going to be married, pray three times."


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News