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The Armorial Ensigns of the Institute of Medical Illustrators granted by the College of Heralds in 1991
The Arms (shield)
“Argent fretty and semy of annulets gules on a pale vert three suns in splendour or”.
The silver (‘argent’) shield carries a pattern of narrow diagonal interlaced strips (‘fretty’) in red (‘gules’) symbolising the blood vessels, while the scattered (‘semy’) red circles (‘annulets’) represent blood corpuscles. The green (‘vert’) central bar (‘pale’) bears three gold (‘or’) suns with rays emerging (‘in splendour’), which symbolise light for the camera. The red circles within the suns represent the camera lens.
“A helm with a wreath argent and gules, an opinicus segant erect holding in the dexter forepaw a quill pen gules”.
The helm has a closed visor and, as is always the case in the arms of a corporate company, faces to the left. The helm’s wreath in silver and red represents the twisted silk of a knight. A helm always has twelve twists all round, and therefore six are in view. The mantling around the wreath and helm represents cloth over the neck of the knight to shade him from the sun. The creature surmounting the helm (the ‘opinicus’, also known as a gryphon) is a rare monster from the mediæval bestiary and is now associated with surgery, having been used for the first time by the Company of Barber Surgeons in 1561. The creature squats on its haunches (‘sejant’) and has the breast, wings and head of an eagle. Its ears, body, forelegs and hindlegs are those of a lion. Its tail is short and stumpy, like that of a bear (or, in some references, a camel). In its right (‘dexter’) paw is a red quill pen in reference to art and illustration.
“Imagines verba superant” is in Latin and was chosen by the Institute. It translates as “Images surpass words”.
“Two quill pens in saltire gules between as many suns in splendour or all environed by a serpent in circle vorant of its tail vert”.
The badge was originally a mediæval device used by ‘magnets’ to recognise their supporters, especially during a battle when each knight had his own followers. In the badge two red quill pens, diagonally crossed (‘in saltire’), are aligned centrally between two gold suns, again ‘in splendour’. These symbols of illustration and light are encircled by a green serpent, which is another emblem traditionally used in medicine. The serpent is in this case ‘vorant’, that is, swallowing its own tail.
The Coat of Arms is used on IMI's official documents such as Membership and Fellowship certificates and the badge may be used (for example, on letterheads), with the express approval of the Institute’s Honorary Secretary, by any fully paid-up member of the Institute.