13 May 2015 - Heraldic Beasts Post and Go Faststamps - set of 6 values in each of 6 designs, total 36 stamps.
Beasts of all persuasions and permutations have appeared on coats of arms and heraldic badges for nearly 900 years. Each has its own particular meaning and significance, but often they include traits demonstrated in battle, such as courage, strength and resilience. One reason for this is that heraldry originally emerged from the need to distinguish participants in combat when their faces were hidden by armour. From these practical beginnings, however, heraldry developed into a complex and sophisticated visual language. The beasts, with the exception of the falcon, are shown passant – that is, walking towards the viewers left, with the right foreleg raised and the others on the ground. Each painstakingly hand-crafted image occupies a brightly coloured background chosen from a heraldically appropriate palette to add to the vibrancy.
The lion is one of the most familiar ancient heraldic figures, or charges, often representing courage and valour in battle. The king of beasts can also signify Christ or royalty and comes in a bewildering array of poses and variations, from double-headed to crowned, wielding a sword or with a knotted tail.
The unicorn has the body of a horse, the tail of a lion and the legs of a deer – as well as an impressive spiral horn protruding from its face. Known for its virtue, courage and strength, the unicorn was a relative latecomer to the heraldic bestiary, first gaining popularity during the 15th century.
The yale is another mythological hybrid, about the size of a hippopotamus, usually with a goat-like body and the tusks of a boar, although descriptions vary wildly. Most agree on its crowning glory: a pair of large, swivelling horns, perfect for fighting – the reason it came to symbolise proud defence.
The dragon is a mainstay of heraldry, usually portrayed as a large, ferocious reptilian beast with bat-like wings, a forked tongue and a pointed tail. These fire-spewing creatures are known for their keen sight, power and wisdom - and as zealous of treasure. A two-footed dragon is called a Wyvern.
The falcon is one of many birds, actual and imagined, to feature in heraldry. It symbolises majesty and power – as well as someone utterly determined, who does not rest until his or her goal is achieved. Anne Boleyns badge bore a crowned falcon with a sceptre, later adopted by her daughter, Queen Elizabeth I.
The griffin has the head, wings and talons of an eagle, fused with the back parts of a lion. It is often depicted with large, leonine ears, which reflect its acute sense of hearing, to go along with other extraordinary powers. As a symbol in heraldry, the griffin stands for strength and vigilance.