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The Dictionary is the result of a 1926 bequest to the Society of Antiquaries for the production of a new edition of Papworth's Ordinary which has remained, since its publication in 1874, the principal tool for the identification of British coats of arms. An Ordinary, in this context, is a collection of arms arranged alphabetically according to their designs, as opposed to an armory which is arranged alphabetically by surname.
Now complete, the Dictionary covers the period before the beginning of the heraldic visitations in 1530. The publication of its fourth and final volume means that the wide range of people interested in medieval arms - historians, antiquaries, archaeologists, genealogists and those dealing in and collecting medieval objects - are able to identify accurately the arms that occur in a medieval context. Even those without a knowledge of the subject will be able, by means of the index, to discover the blazon of arms recorded under particular surnames in the Middle Ages.
The set is, therefore, an essential reference that will remain the standard work for generations to come.
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