Shields and Borders
"a four-cornered shield, cut away on the sides and rounded on the two lower corners,
divided silver and black, with a red border. . ."
"The shield. . . was for the first time made with a red border in 1553"(3)
The oldest, still-extant representations of our arms are found on seals of the year 1377. They are shield-seals , which besides the circular inscription around the edge bear only a shield.
"The beginning of the art of arms is recognized by the fact that people began variously to divide and paint family shields for purposes of recognition, or to provide the shield with stylized figures."
Our two shield-seals from 1377 are basically different. The one shows a round figure, to this day unexplained, that only once more, in 1393, made its appearance. The other shield-seal, however, shows us the "parted", that is, the perpendicularly divided shield in the colors of silver and black. This silver and black parted shield then remained dominant. Nevertheless it meets us in 1553 augmented by a red border (shield-edge) and later became more and more commomly so represented.
"Also the border comes forward early as an example of shield differentiation. According to heraldic rules its breadth must be limited to about a seventh of the shield's breadth, with the border edge parallel to the edge of the shield. The one-seventh measure is, whether simple, doubled, or halved, useful also for many other shield differentiations. If the shield border bears only a fourteenth of the breadth of the shield, then it is to be designated as a staff-border. These distinguishing terms of "border" and "staff-border" belong to the heraldic speech, which --- when it is applied --- must be rightly applied" (9).
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