Comments on the Coat of Arms

Over the years many companies have traded on the intense interest in tracing ones roots. Those knowledgeable about doing family history research are not  easily fooled, while those that are new or novices are often taken in by the unscrupulous merchants peddling information that is not accurate and in many cases entirely wrong.

For example, for several years (until the internet put them out of business) there was a company that sold you a book that was personalized to your family  name and a color copy of your family coat of arms in the flyleaf. All this  for about $40.  Problem is that a coat of arms was generally not given to a  family but to an individual and then only as a keepsake.  The coat of arms  usually sent out by these companies is entirely a fake and of no historical merit.

Dick Eastman agrees with me about the coat of arms scams and reported in his March 12th, 2001 newsletter  (Vol.6 No 11) the following comment:

I would caution anyone to be careful about "family coats of arms."  In fact, in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and most of western  Europe, there really is no such thing as a family coat of arms. In  those countries, arms have always been awarded to individuals, not  to families. Displaying a coat of arms that you are not authorized  to use is a form of identity theft, even if you do happen to have  the same last name as the original grantee. Any company offering  to sell you a copy of "your family's coat of arms" is selling a  bogus product. 

There are others who market legitimate - but just poor quality information.  For example, if you go to the site www.ancestordetective.com/watchdog.htm you will learn about an individual who claims to be a certified professional genealogist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but is not and who sells a beginning course for only $20. However, according to  AncestorsDetective the course is of little value and misleading. One who takes the course could easily be sent off in the wrong direction and waste a  lot of time and expense researching with poor methods and looking on all the wrong places. The ancestorsdetective site has a host of good information  about fraudulent merchants and scam operators.

There are other websites that will give you warnings about the unscrupulous  side of the business. Here are a couple to look at:

www.cyndislist.com/myths.htm
www.ngsgenealogy.org/comconsumer.htm
www.ngsgenealogy.org/comconsumerpsst.htm

Some specific companies that you might avoid, according to Dick Eastman, editor and publisher of the Eastman Newsletter (by email), who has researched this matter thoroughly are:

Halberts of Bath, Ohio (Since gone out of business) Family Discovery.com The xxx Family Yearbook - In this case, substitute your last name for the "xxx." Family Tree House

These are companies with a very dubious reputation and there are various websites in addition to the ones already cited that will warn users about them.

Caveat Emptor.

Almon H. Clegg