Heraldry has been called the flower garden of history with all its color and symbolism. There are a number of countries that utilize not only civic, but also individual personal heraldry.— They are: England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, to name a few.
Some people want to know–do I have a coat of arms or what does my coat of arms look like? Chances are if you have to ask that question, then you probably do not have a coat of arms. So, either you research your ancestry back to an “armigerous” ancestor that did have a coat of arms or you create one to your own liking.
Also, people often times confuse the terms of “crest” with “coat of arms”. The former is just the charge or device that sits on top of the helmet. The coat of arms includes the crest, the helmet, the shield and the mantling, which is that wavy floral-looking shredded surcoat around the shield.
To discover if there is a coat of arms for a family surname sources could be researched for a number of ethnic nationalities. There are over 95 volumes in the Dallas Public Library that pertain to heraldry. Most all are in the Genealogy Section.
To see if a surname has a coat of arms one may consult a number of sources, to mention a few — the Heraldry Index of the St. Louis Public Library, Rietstap’s Armorial, Siebmacher’s Wappenbuch, Burke’s General Armory, Polska Encyclopedia, Book of Irish Families Great & Small, Diccionario Heraldico y Nobiliario, …
As the United States of America is a Republic it does not have an official heraldic office like the United Kingdom for legal patents of Arms. However, the US does have a copywrite office for trademark protection of designs and a few registries exist where one can file their newly created coat of arms with either the American Heraldry Society, http://www.americanheraldry.org/ or the American College of Heraldry, http://www.americancollegeofheraldry.org/.