Sunday, September 21, 2014

"My sheets are monogrammed, so is my silverware

 and pretty much everything else I own. My rule is, if it's not moving, monogram it."

                      ~Reese Witherspoon


I have always loved the vintage/antique monogrammed items.  It made it personal; you knew someone had owned that. 
The definition of a monogram is "sign of identity", and that really was its original purpose...to label personal property.  Ancient Greek and Roman rulers monogrammed their coins as way of identifying a region as a transition was made from bartering to a monetary system for trade. 

Nobility monogrammed everything from weapons to banners to household items.  In the Middle Ages, artisans used their monograms to sign their work.  Victorian aristocracy used the monogram to display their high rank in society.  Monarchs have always had monograms...

Early monograms only consisted of two initials, and the three initials did not gain favor until the 18th century.  In doing this research, I found that the wealthy took to monogramming in the 19th century, marking books, cigarette cases, lighters, the silver, the towels in the bath, the bottles in a cellar and the shirts in the closet—things small enough to steal—but eventually the monogram became
a matter of pride.
The shirt monogram began in grand households or colleges where many shirts
were laundered together—the elegant ancestor of today’s laundry mark. Now the
monogram isn’t there for the laundry but for the ego. It used to be said that the
proper place for the monogram is over the heart. Flashier dressers have long
favored the shirt cuff, as it will be noted in a handshake, at the card table, lighting
a lady’s cigar. 

There is also "Monogram Etiquette"!   The most common format is three letter representing the first, last, and middle names. (That causes some problems for those of us with double last names...or the Irish/Scots and their Os and Mc/Macs).  But, the last name initial goes in the center and is larger type.   Married monograms include the wife's first name, the married last name, and then the husband's first name.

Of course, in retail, monograms are also well known...          
• 
But what started me on this research was the celluloid set pictured above that I found last week...this defies the etiquette rules since it only has one initial. Was it a young woman? Why only an R? And despite the fact that it appears never to have been used, why did the R fade on the comb? The mysteries of the antique world! So, next time you see monogrammed clothes or other items, think about the person to whom these things belonged...and don't worry if the initials are not yours...we don't have to have "selfies" all the time! 



  "The monogram is an elegant way to make your mark. It’s your name boiled down to the essence, executed with graphic artistry."  ~ Glenn O'Brien    

No comments: