This beautifully crafted, and vibrantly painted cast iron piece is shaped in the form of the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom. Manufactured by Walter MacFarlane & Co it depicts an important symbol of the British monarchy.
To the right is a crowned, gold lion standing on its back paws, front ones resting on the central medallion. The left side is occupied by a crowned unicorn, too with its front legs resting on the central shield of the coat of arms. Both animals are symbols of the United Kingdom, and this symbolism dates to 1603 when James I of England became King.
The design of the shield itself dates to 1707, when the Act of Union was passed, symbolising the alliance of Wales, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Each quarter of the central shield represents a part of the United Kingdom. England and Wales are represented with three lions, Scotland with a rampant lion and Ireland with a golden harp. A crown surmounting a lion adorns the top of the shield. Surrounding the four quarters is written ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’ (‘Evil to him who evil thinks’), symbolising the Order of the Garter.
A navy ribbon on the base intertwined with rose, thistle and shamrock reads ‘Dieu et mon droit’ translating from French to ‘God and my right’. This is the motto of the United Kingdom’s monarch, previously used by Queen Elizabeth II and now by King Charles III.
Founded in 1850, Walter MacFarlane & Co, also known as the Saracen Foundry, were Scotland’s leading producers of ornamental ironwork, having produced numerous public monuments and work for renowned Scottish architects of the period, such as Alexander ‘Greek’ Thompson.
The coat of arms is supported on three upside-down T-shaped legs. Maker’s mark reading ‘Walter MacFarlane & Co Glasgow’ is stamped in the middle of the shield.
The large size of this cast iron coat of arms makes it an especially rare find. A piece of this size would most likely have been proudly displayed on a building. Recently, the piece has been refreshed, giving it a more vibrant colouring, it is an eye-catching and crowd-stopping statement piece for the appropriate exterior or interior space.