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The coat of arms of the former duchy of Brittany

Ermine is a heraldic fur representing the winter coat of the stoat (white with a black tail). Many skins would be sewn together to make a luxurious garment, producing a pattern of small black spots on a white field. The conventional representation of the tails (commonly called ermine spots) is part of the tincture itself, rather than a pattern of charges, though the ermine spot is also used as a single charge (often as a mark of cadency). The ermine spot has had a wide variety of shapes over the centuries; its most usual representation has three tufts at the end (bottom), converges to a point at the root (top), and is attached by three studs.

On a bend ermine, the tails follow the line of the bend. In the arms of William John Uncles, the field ermine is cut into bendlike strips by the three bendlets azure, so the ermine tails are (unusually) depicted bendwise.

Ermines is the reverse of ermine – a field sable semé of ermine-spots argent. It is sometimes called counter-ermine (cf. French contre-hermin and German Gegenhermelin).[1]

Erminois is ermine with a field Or instead of argent, and pean is the reverse of erminois (i.e. Or spots on a field sable).

Erminites is supposed to be the "same as ermine, except that the two lateral hairs of each spot are red."[2] James Parker mentions it,[3] as does Pimbley,[4] though by the former's admission this is of doubtful existence. Arthur Charles Fox-Davies describes it as a "silly [invention] of former heraldic writers, not of former heralds."[5]

Other combinations of tinctures are explicitly stated, as in "gules ermined argent" (red with white ermine spots).

See also



  • Fox-Davies, A. C. (1904). The Art of Heraldry: An Encyclopædia of Armory. (1968 edition) New York: Benjamin Blom, Inc. LCCN 68-056481
  • Fox-Davies, A. C. (1909). A Complete Guide to Heraldry. (2004 edition) Whitefish, MT: Kessenger Publishing. ISBN 1417906308 LCCN 09-023803


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