The tradition of heraldry in Britain has been established since the medieval age. Then, as now, it uses an intricate system of symbols, in unique combinations, to denote an individual or corporation. Crombie’s own Coat of Arms was granted by the Lord Lyon Court, the oldest heraldic court in the world still in operation. The issue’s description reads as follows:
“Quarterly, First, Azure, a demi-lion rampant guardant. Argent, armed & langued Gules holding in his dexter paw a dagger erect proper. Second, Or, a water-bouget, Sable. Third, Paly of ten Sable & Argent, a weaver’s shuttle. Or, threaded Gules. Fourth, Azure, a ram’s head Argent. Horned, Or.”
Inspired by myth and legend, the complex terminology describes a subtle symbolism representing Crombie’s unique history as a woollen manufacturer and the ethos under which the brand still operates.
As the national flower and floral emblem of Scotland since the reign of Alexander III (1246-1286), it is symbol of national pride. Legend holds that an invading army alerted the Scots to their presence when one of their soldiers stepped on a thorny thistle and, in agony, cried out. Serving as the supporter (or compartment) of the Coat of Arms, the thistle alludes to Crombie’s Scottish origins. Founded in 1805, John Crombie I set up his first woollen mill at Cothal, near Aberdeen.
The lion was originally included on the Crombie family Coat of Arms and has long been thought of as an emblem of courage. Having always held a privileged position in heraldry, and featuring prominently in the arms of nobility and royalty, the lion charge is often presented in a variety of poses (or attitudes) intended to allow for differentiation. The Crombie lion is depicted as demi rampant guardant, the same as that in the Royal Standard of Scotland. Shown holding a dagger in his right (dexter) paw, with tongue lolling (langued gules) and set against blue (or azure), when taken as a whole, the first quarter represents strength, loyalty, and truth.
Also known as a water-carrier, the water-bouget has developed over centuries from a simplistic depiction of leather water-carriers into the stylistic symbolic representation seen in the Crombie Coat of Arms. They were used in the arms of families who had ‘carried water to armies,’ that is, delivered and provided supplies for forces during periods of war, and was added when the Ross family, who used the symbol in their own crest, became partners in J&J Crombie Ltd. in the late 1880s.
The Flying Shuttle
Set against vertical stripes (or paly), symbolising the warp rather than the weft of the loom, the shuttle represents industry and productivity. Denoting Crombie’s beginnings as a manufacturer of woollens, they were traditionally incorporated into the arms of textile families. This particular variety, the flying shuttle, was invented in the late eighteenth century, and has come to be recognised as a defining moment in the Industrial Revolution. The device allowed weaving to become mechanised and made way for automation. Crombie’s early success has been largely attributed to the wholesale adoption and installation of the latest technological innovations at their mills, the flying shuttle included. Today, the shuttle serves as a reminder of the superior quality and manufacture of Crombie garments.
The Ram's Head
The ram is a traditional charge symbolising authority and leadership. Denoting Crombie as the industry leader, it is also an allusion to the Golden Fleece featuring in the legendary tale of Jason and the Argonauts from Greek mythology and Homer. Highly prized, it was made from the gold-haired winged ram of Colchis, and represents Crombie’s dedication to superior manufacture using natural materials as well as their famed Elysian overcoatings that set the industry standard in the nineteenth century.
Header Image: The Crombie Coat of Arms Issue, Crombie Archives © Crombie Ltd.