The Achievement of Arms

Achievement of arms

The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers was incorporated by Royal Charter on 16th May 1629, but it did not approach the College of Arms for an official “Achievement of Arms” on which it could base its seal until 1950. Before then, the Spectacle Makers of London had adopted two unofficial coats of arms.

The earliest reference to the first of these appears in W. Maitland’s “History of London”, published in 1739. It is possible that this device was adopted, without authority, between the years 1629 and 1666, but unfortunately the records for that period were lost in the Great Fire.

Presumably, this device was depicted on the Company’s seal that was reported lost in 1810. As that loss rendered Company unable to purchase stock, the Court resolved to remedy the situation forthwith (but without reference to the College of Arms), and on 28 June 1810 it adopted what became known as the “pseudoheraldic device”, which had been designed by Henry Lawson (Master 1803-04 & 1822-23). Its composition emphasises that the early nineteenth century spectacle makers were also highly competent manufacturers of scientific instruments, and today it may be seen on the Upper Warden’s badge.

It was not until 1949 that the Company opened negotiations with the College of Arms for an official grant. This was made on 18th September 1950, after a degree of argument, and is properly described as follows:

Blazon: Vert a chevron or between three pairs of nose-spectacles proper framed of the second.
Crest: On a wreath or and vert two arms embowed vested vert cuffed or the hands proper holding a sun in splendour within an annulet gold.
Mantling: Vert doubled or.
Supporters: On either side a falcon proper belled or charged with a sword erect gules.