Talking coat of arms

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As a speaking coat of arms ( French always used in the plural armes parlantes ), also speaking coat of arms or name coat of arms , one describes in heraldry such coats of arms , which in the case of family names on the name of the owner or in the case of local coats of arms on the (often folk etymological ) interpretation of the Either allude to the place name or depict it like a rebus . The allusion is mostly in the figure, less often in the color.

Talking signs already existed in antiquity. The motifs of the coins from the archaic period , which are not yet inscribed, often refer to the names of the cities in which they were minted. Examples are Phokaia with a seal (Greek phokä ), Zankle ( zánklä = sickle), Himera with a rooster ( häméra = day) and Selinus with the leaf of a sickle tree ( sélinon = celery tree ), Melos with an apple (melon), Rhodes with a rose blossom (rhodon) . Some coins from the time of the Roman Republic allude to the family names of the mint masters with speaking symbols.


The Counts of Henneberg led z. As a hen on a three-mountain, the men of Aufenstein one on or eagle owl, the House of Helfenstein an elephant; the coat of arms of the Lords of Olvenstedt shows a camel, which was called Olfent in the Middle Ages . There was a phonological similarity here. The later official heraldry proceeded in the choice of the speaking coats of arms very arbitrarily and contrary to the laws of the heraldry. The coat of arms of the Prussian Minister of State August Friedrich von Boden (ennobled in 1739) speaks three ways, in that it contains a paw, a base and a messenger.

Local coats of arms can also be meaningful , for example in Berlin (folk etymologically reinterpreted as little bear = little bear) or Bern (also folk based on bear ) and Hamburg (castle on a red background). In Uri is the Ur, an aurochs in Füllinsdorf to a foal (Swiss German Fülli; however, etymologically is a male personal name before). Another example is Tragwein (wine barrel on a stretcher). Falcons can often be found in the coats of arms of places called Falkenstein and Falkenberg (as in today's Niemodlin ), the lion in the community of Löwenberger Land , axes that hammer this in Beilstein , and a fir tree on coins and the coat of arms of the Alsatian city of Thann . Also known are the maid above the castle in the Magdeburg coat of arms or the Stralsunder ray .

Talking coats of arms were also used as mintmaster's mark. For example, Ernst Peter Hecht, mint master of the Leipzig mint from 1693 to 1714 , had the letters EPH and the pike from his coat of arms.

Speyer Cathedral , Afra chapel, “Burgmann” coat of arms, from the remains of the tomb of the cathedral dean Nikolaus Burgmann († 1443)
Stiftskirche Neustadt an der Weinstrasse , speaking coat of arms of the Speyer bishop Konrad von Busch . (Left the blue diocese coat of arms with a white cross, right a burning thorn bush )

Many coats of arms are a (partly folk etymological) direct pictorial implementation of the place name:

Other coats of arms use a symbolic "detour":

  • Kröpelin shows a cripple; in fact, it is based on the Slavic word crepelice (= place of the quail).
  • Lauffen am Neckar has the running messenger ("runner").
  • Bettendorf (originated from Betendorf ) shows the Bible and rosary as a symbol for prayer.
  • Telgte (after a Telgoth homestead) shows a stylized oak , Telge stands for oak ( Telgen Potten for planting trees, 16th century).
  • Frankfurt (Oder) shows a rooster, lat. Gallus . In medieval Latin, the galli are Franks ("Gauls").
  • Gallipoli shows a rooster, , although the name of the city actually comes from the Greek kalòs (folk etymology)
  • Luckau shows a bull, the symbol for the evangelist Luke.
  • Jüterbog shows a goat which, according to a folk etymology, is said to be the namesake
  • Lichtental , the part of the 9th district of Vienna, shows a valley illuminated by the sun.
  • Baden (Lower Austria) shows - bathers!
  • Kindberg in Styria emblazoned as follows: "In a blue shield golden a naked child, sitting on a silver mountain, clad only in a loincloth, playing under three semicircular arranged golden five-pointed stars with one of the silver flowers growing out of the mountain in front and back."
  • Schattendorf - casts shadows

Initial coat of arms

The initial coats of arms are also often seen as speaking. Examples are:

  • Radome in Poland an "R" under a crown
  • Kielce in Poland "CK" for "Civitas Kielce"
  • Kraslice in the Czech Republic with a coat of arms-filling "G", which stood for the German name Graslitz until 1945
  • Zittau in Saxony with a silver “Z” in the middle of the coat of arms


  • Gert Oswald : Lexicon of Heraldry. Bibliographical Institute, Mannheim / Vienna / Zurich / Leipzig 1984, ISBN 3-411-02149-7 ; 2nd unchanged edition with the subtitle Von Apfelkreuz bis Zwillingsbalken, Battenberg, Regenstauf 2006, ISBN 3-86646-010-4 ; 3rd edition 2011, ISBN 978-3-86646-077-5 .
  • Winfried Schich : Talking seals of Brandenburg and other German cities in the 13th and 14th centuries. In: Markus Späth (ed.): The imagery of corporate seals in the Middle Ages. Art history and history in conversation (= Sensus. Vol. 1). Böhlau, Cologne a. a. 2009, ISBN 978-3-412-20353-5 , pp. 113-130.


  1. ^ Haymann, Collecting Ancient Coins, Regenstauf 2016, pp. 29, 32
  2. ^ Peter Franz Mittag, Greek Numismatics, Heidelberg 2016, page 22
  3. ^ Rainer Albert, The Coins of the Roman Republic, Regenstauf 2003, catalog numbers 874, 905, 1117, 1241, 1298 and 1464
  4. Actually, the wall with gate and towers is the general coat of arms symbol for a city. In Hamburg, however, this usual symbol is huddled together like a castle.
  5. Star as namesake - a historical mistake? ,

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