Culture and heritage


The first view of the proposed new Coat of Arms

The first time that the people of New South Wales saw their proposed coat of arms was when this illustration was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 30 March 1906.

The story accompanying the drawing quoted William Applegate Gullick several times on his rationale for the design. With regard to the colours or tinctures he stated:

Colour effect has been studied, as it forms quite an important factor in the eventual use of the bearings for ceremonial display.

Gullick also stated that the commission had called for a coat of arms

...which I have submitted with a crest, motto, and supporters, the design seeming scarcely complete without them.

Clearly, the proposed design was something he had thought long and hard about. The 'design approved' caption refers to the approval of Premier Carruthers to submit the draft design to the College of Arms in London.

The design shown in the newspaper story, however, has one curious feature: Gullick was familiar with the use of the petra sancta system of hatchings to indicate colours in a monochrome representation of a coat of arms. Assuming that Gullick drew up the sketch above, the petra sancta hatchings suggest that he initially coloured the arms with a purple (Purpure) shield and a black (Sable) cross edged silver (Argent), with silver (Argent) charges and supporters, and a silver crest on a green and white (Vert and Argent) wreath above the shield.

This is contrary to his words quoted above, and none of the subsequent correspondence between Gullick and the College of Arms in London refers to any colours other than red (Gules), blue (Azure), silver or white (Argent) and gold (Or). This makes the sketch shown here something of an anomaly, and indicates the critical role that colour plays in heraldic representations.

Some questions to research:

  1. Contrast these two colour schemes for the Arms - what do they suggest about the use of colours in heraldry?
  2. What does the inclusion of a crest, supporters and motto suggest about the importance of the Arms in representing the State?
Image source: Sydney Morning Herald, 30 March 1906
Page last updated: 01 September 2012