Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Colours Heraldic

Colours, Heraldic. In heraldic art the colours are divided into three classes, metals, tinctures, and furs. There are two metals, silver and gold, known respectively as "argent" and "or." The latter is occasionally represented by yellow, the former nearly always by an untouched surface or by white. When represented in line-engraving argent is left plain, but the surface is covered with small dots placed at regular intervals to denote "or." Heraldry knows no other metals. The tinctures in regular use are "gules" or red, "azure" or blue, "sable" or black, "vert" or green, and "purpure" or purple. The first is represented by perpendicular lines set evenly and closely together, the second similarly by horizontal lines, and the third by perpendicular and horizontal lines crossing each other at right angles. Vert lines run downwards from left to right (which, it must be remembered, are the exact opposite of the dexter and sinister of armoury), at an angle of about 45 degrees, and to denote purpure these lines are drawn from right to left. Two other colours, tenne (orange) and murray (a dark red), are mentioned by some writers. They are very seldom met with, and are not usually considered as tinctures. There are ten sorts of fur, but of these some are never now used, except in remote instances. The most common, of course, is "ermine," which is a white ground with black ermine spots. "Erminois" only differs in having a gold ground. "Ermines" has a black ground with white spots, and "pean" is the same but with gold spots. "Erminites" is similar to ermine, but having a red hair on each side of the black spots. "Vair" is depicted as composed of small shield-shaped pieces fitted into each other, alternately blue and white placed top to top and point to point. If the colours are not argent and or, the field is said to be "vaire" "of whatever tinctures it may happen to be; "counter-vair," and "vair-en-point," which are very seldom met with, are varieties of vair, the small pieces in these being arranged somewhat differently. Potent and "potent counter-potent" are furs very similar to vair and vair-en-point, but having the small pieces of which it is composed each shaped as a T. When any charge is painted in its natural colours it is termed "proper."