Although symbols have been used since prehistoric times as a method to identify families and clans, it was not until the 12th century in Western Europe that the formalized system was developed.
As heavy plate armor was developed, large helmets made visual identification of a warrior impossible. A system of painting symbols on shields was designed to prevent confusion in warfare and to establish their identity.
This evolved into highly sophisticated artform of heraldry as a means of identifying aristocracy and gentry. Books and even entire libraries were devoted to authorities of heraldry.
Our Heraldry series was published in 18th century Handers. Here are perhaps long forgotten, except in the art of "paper heraldry".
Image: 6 x 6" Paper: 8 x 10"