Table Topics : A Brief History of Monograms
Let’s talk about monograms. They’re a great way to add a unique touch to a present and an even better way to add a personal touch to your private collection. We’ve officially launched our monogram service and thought it might be interesting to dig deeper and share some history that also doubles as great dinner chatter.
On a very basic level, monograms are bespoke designs that incorporate two or more letters that typically represent initials of the first name, middle name, and last name of a person. The first monograms known to man developed in ancient Greece, where each city would issue coins containing its first two letters, joined together or combined to form a symbol. They rapidly caught on as indications of ownership, status and power. Dignitaries and authority figures in ancient Greece and Rome used monograms to mark their belongings for official purposes. They don’t want to mix up those togas!
Charlemagne, king of the Franks, whose statue you can take a selfie with near Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, famously used monograms to mark goods in the areas he conquered to memorialize his royal and military power. (That is definitely a good way to make your mark.) Consequently, monograms came to serve important administrative and political functions across Europe. For example, royal monograms and Christograms often used these to sign documents, on flags, in clothing, et cetera.
In other instances, monograms indicated a different type of ownership and making one’s mark. In the Middle Ages, artists and artisans began to sign their initials on sculptures, paintings, textiles and pieces of furniture to claim ownership of their creations before they were traded to far off places. One could argue this was the beginning of modern-day branding, trademarks and intellectual property rights. Think of the iconic C’s of Chanel, G’s of Gucci and L and V of Louis Vuitton. We immediately recognized these monograms but they also protect against threats like infringement and counterfeiting. (Well we know counterfeit is still possible but that is another subject…).
The contemporary usage of monograms as we know it, however, finds origins in the Victorian era when they became more widespread in private and professional settings. Society ladies, for instance, used monograms to distinguish their shawls in coat rooms and men in the military used them to identify their belongings among several identical items, especially uniforms. The monogram, which attracted attention for its functionality, soon became a fashionable trend that adorned everything from umbrellas to prams. From this point onwards, monograms became the preferred way to amp up the appeal and aesthetic of even the most standard daily objects.
Today, we often associate monograms with occasions that mark important transitions, such as marriage and the birth of a child, or shared festivity, such as birthdays and holidays. After all, one’s name continues to be a primary marker of one’s identity. Using such a profoundly representative symbol to mark a moment elevates its importance, makes for an auspicious occasion and provides an eternal reminder to value and cherish the relationships it bears.
Now that we’ve armed you with some interesting cocktail chatter about monograms, be sure to visit the shop, choose your favorite napkin colors like maybe the romantic rosé, or ever popular orage, oooh or the newest colors of bordeaux and forêt. Then personalize them with a monogram for yourself or a gift.