There are just two companies worldwide that undertake heraldic research and almost all of the shops you will find on the Internet buy a licence from one of the research companies. We paid an initial lump sum and we then pay a further fee each time we download a file (coat of arms image or surname history etc) from the database. As well as a few master licence holders, there are many sub-licencees who don’t pay the lump sum but do pay a higher fee for each download. We have held a master licence from the major research company since 1996 and subsequently we pay less than most. Consequently we can pass on this saving to our customers and it gives us a competitive edge. We also sell internationally and need to compete with prices charged by sites in other countries.
Yes, the research company from whom we purchased our licence has been building a database of coats of arms and surname histories since the early 1970s. There is a list of some of the reference books used in the research on the Bibliography page
Some names have more than one coat of arms. Our database holds the oldest found by our researchers. Also, there used to be a company that just made them up!