A Dictionary of Heraldry


Author: Elvin, Charles Norton
Publication Date: 1889
Reprint Date: 2005
Pages: 235 pp.
ISBN: 9780806304595


This is an extremely useful and comprehensive illustrated dictionary of heraldic terms, a necessity whether one’s interest is that of an artist, engraver, heraldist, librarian, or genealogist. Elvin’s book is as useful today as it was 110 years ago when the author wrote that the “aim of the present work is not to furnish an account of the antiquity and progress of Heraldry, but to provide as succinctly as possible, and in Alphabetical order, a list of the terms met with in the Science, with their appropriate Illustrations.”

The outstanding feature of this book is the set of 47 plates (done by Elvin) depicting over 2,500 illustations of the various heraldic charges, with blazonings, arranged by subject headings such as “Badges,” “Bend,” “Chevron,” “Cross,” and the like, thus providing a complete dictionary of terms, each term having an exact reference to a matching illustration. As a result, the identification of unrecognized charges is easy.

The usefulness of the book for the study of heraldry is manifest; it can be used quite readily by almost anyone at any stage of study and research. In a science as complex and exacting as heraldry, Elvin’s Dictionary provides much needed clarification and, as it were, ventilation–no small contribution to any discipline.

“In all, the book is one of the best on the subject, and because it is so succinct it is needed in almost every library with a fair or good reference collection, since it answers almost every question on terms used in heraldry.”–American Reference Books Annual (1971).

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