Monday, March 11, 2013

A Sad Heraldry Story

I have warned you in the past about the fly-by-night companies here in the United States that will “research” your family name and then send you your “coat of arms” or “family crest.”  On 03 Dec 2012, I answered a question about this for Harold.  You can read it HERE

It just so happens that my uncle had his family name researched (my mother’s maiden name) back in the 1960s but this was in Germany.  Germany take heraldry very seriously and I thought maybe fly-by-night companies wouldn’t be allowed to even exist because of it.  My uncle and my mother have had this coat of arms hanging on their walls for as long as I can remember.  I asked my mother about it (my uncle died in 2003) and she said that my uncle went through a reputable company and that the research took a long time.  When he got the coat of arms back, she had someone hand paint it on parchment and that is what she has on her wall.  She said that her brother received a packet of papers along with it but she hadn’t seen that since the 1960s and doesn’t remember what was in it. 

I asked the Association of Professional Genealogists mailing list if anyone knew of a Heraldry expert and I was given the name of David B. Appleton of Appleton Studios (thank you Trevia!)  David in turn referred me to the Heraldische Gemeinschaft Westfalen in Germany.

Here is the response I received back from the Michael Wass from the Heraldische Gemeinschaft Westfalen:

“Dear Mrs. Lewis,
Sorry but the arms seems to be a fake.  We run our database (almost 400.000 names and arms) and no match was found. We also tried several spellings as Wiechard etc. but also no match. In addition we couldn't find any arms having the same charges. Do you know the name of the German company who did the research? Most companies were fraudulent at that time.  Most of all the arms is not designed according to the German rules. Crest and helmet always have to point in the same direction.  In this case the Wings are pointing to dexter and the helmet is frontally. Also supporters are not very common in Germany. By German law supporters are no part of the armorial bearing they are decoration only. Motto scrolls are not often used too.
Yours truly
Michael Waas”

Well their go all my hopes right down the toilet.  Apparently the Germans have the same problem  with this sort of thing as American do.  By the way, here is the coat of arms in question:


Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis

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