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Posted on 04/18/2013

Supporters are figures or animals, placed on either side of the shield area of a coat of arms. (Family Crest) Sometimes they are the same on each side, other times there is a different image of either side. Woodward & Burnett, writing in “A treatise on heraldry” declared that “Supporters are figures of living creatures placed at the side, or sides, of an armorial shield and appearing to support it.

Originally, it is thought that supporters arrived with the invention of the engraver. Artists would fill in the blank areas at each side of the shield with fanciful images and mythical animals such as griffins and dragons. One of the first recorded arms to appear with supporters were those of Alexander de Balliol, in 1295, which had two dragons supporting the shield.

Over the centuries, the use of supporters became regulated, and in England they were granted, mostly, to hereditary peers (Lords & Ladies), Knights of The Order of the Garter, Order of the Thistle, and the Orders of both St. Michael and St. George. Scottish Clan Chiefs were also granted them, in fact the arms of Boyd has an unusual set of squirrels as supporters. The national arms of many countries have supporters as well.

At www.shieldandcrest.com we can paint you a coat of arms to include the supporters, should the original arms grant have them. Call (Toll-Free) 866-289-2798 for details.