The British Armorial Database has a wide range of search capabilities.  Depending on the type of search to be conducted, various strategies are to be used.

It is assumed that the purpose of most searches will be to identify the unknown owner of a particular stamp.

Owner unknown

  1. As a first step press the Search tab at the top of the page.
  2. When the search box appears, enter a term corresponding to one of the elements of the stamp.
    This could be one of the heraldic charges in the arms themselves, the crest, the monogram, or motto.  Searching in this manner will generate a list of every instance where that search word has been used, not only in the stamps, but also in the sources. Images of the stamps will appear first, followed by a list of sources.
  3. If the list is too large, and no match of the pertinent stamp can be readily found, the search can be restricted to the stamps only, by using the Stamp filter, located on the right side of the display screen. 
  4. Another method of refining the search is to combine the initial search term with another charge selected from the Heraldic charges filter. 
  5. If the arms under investigation consist of several charges, enter the various charges as keywords in the search box, enclosing an exact phrase in quotation marks.
    For example,

chevron escallops 3
“a chevron between three escallops”.

The latter method will yield a more precise search.

Alternatively, the charge can be selected directly from the heraldic index.
To assist the user to recognize a particular heraldic charge, thumbnail sketches of the charges are provided. 

  1. Press the Stamps tab at the top of the page,
  2. then from the drop down menu select Heraldic charges
  3. From the display, select the appropriate charge.  

If the stamp consists of, or contains a monogram or initials, use the Monograms file located under the Stamps tab.  In most cases the letters contained in the monogram or initials follow the order that they appear in the stamp. 
As monograms are sometimes difficult to decipher, it may be necessary to scroll through the file until a match is found.

If the arms include a motto, the quickest way to identify a stamp is to search the Mottoes file, also located under the Stamps tab. 

If none of these strategies produces a positive result, there may be several possible reasons:

a) the stamp is not British
b) the stamp is British but is unknown to the compilers of the database
c) the stamp is in the database, but is difficult to find

In these instances it is suggested that the user write to the editor using the Contact function. 


Known owner

If the owner of an armorial stamp is known, or if information about a particular owner is desired, begin the search by using the Owner tab.

  1. In the search box that appears, enter the appropriate name.
  2. A list will appear arranged alphabetically by family name, not by title.
    For example, if information is required on the Dukes of Devonshire, the file should be searched under Cavendish, and not Devonshire.  
  3. If the family name is not known, but the title of a particular individual is known, the basic Search should be used.  
  4. If information on the books collected by a particular owner is required, a list of relevant books can be found at the end of each entry for the stamps associated with that owner.


 Other kinds of enquiry

  1. It is possible to sort owners by gender, by century of activity, and by rank in the royal family (except for reigning monarchs), the peerage, the baronetcy and knightage, and the ecclesiastical hierarchy. The Ranks file is arranged alphabetically, and is not hierarchical.
  2. In order to discover who owned copies of books written by certain authors,
    1. press the Sources tab,
    2. from the drop down menu select Authors.
    3. from the Authors list select the appropriate name
  3. To discover the holdings of books with British armorial stamps held by a particular library,
    1.  press the Sources tab,
    2.  then select Libraries.  
    3. An alphabetical list of libraries will appear, with brief titles of its holdings.
    4. For more information on a particular book, click on a highlighted title.
  4. Secondary provenance information and other details about individual books can be found by using either the Source or Stamps tabs.  
    By clicking on the highlighted title of a book from either folder, more information will be revealed about that item.
    If an enquiry involves secondary provenance, the name of an owner (other than the stamp owner) may be searched in the Search box. It is advised to place the name being searched within quotation marks.
  5. A list of binders who have signed their bindings, or to whom attribution has been made, together with a list of the relevant books and their owners, can be generated by selecting Binders under the Sources tab.