History of the Monogram

What’s in a monogram? By definition, a monogram is a combination of letters, usually initials, arranged into a decorative mark that identifies a person, family, or brand.

Today we see monograms as a decorative way to embellish jewelry and home furnishings, but these symbols are one of the earliest forms of identification and date all the way back to the 6th century, B.C., when they could be found on Roman coins with rulers’ initials.

Coin from Carolingian kingdom of Italy

Coin from Carolingian kingdom of Italy

Early Greeks used this tactic as well, and soon monograms were found all over ancient currency to identify the ruler of the region from which the currency originated. Over time, monograms were used more and more to designate the property of nobility; monograms became a status symbol that were embroidered and emblazoned on weaponry, linens, coats of arms, and more by royalty and noblemen. Rembrandt_Signatures

During the Middle Ages, however, monograms became common among artists, many of whom used them to sign their work. Early monograms generally consisted of two letter, while later, during the Victorian era, traditional monograms began to consist of three letters. An interesting example of this can be found in the Dutch painter Rembrandt, who in the 1600s used his simple monogram RH to sign his work, later changing it to RHL as the Victorian era approached. During this area, monograms transitioned back up the social ladder and once again became a status symbol for wealthy aristocratic families. Strict standards for monogram form were set during this time. Women’s monograms consisted of the first initial on the left, the middle initial on the right, and the last initial in the middle, larger than the others.

victorian-monogramNow, monogram formats are more lenient. Monograms are common among more people than just the wealthy, as they have become more accessible and trendy over time. Some people choose to stray from the traditional Victorian monogram format and create monograms in the style of first-middle-last name. With this monogram style, all three initials are typically the same size. Married couples’ monograms typically include the bride’s first initial on the left, the groom’s first initial on the right, and the joint last name initial larger in the center. Modern British royals do this differently, featuring a two-letter monogram reading the groom’s first and bride’s first initials left to right.

two_initial_monogram

Two-initial Monogram

Monogram jewelry is one of the most popular ways monograms are represented in society today. From initials engraved onto solid pieces of jewelry to hand-cut or laser engraved monograms shaping precious metals, monogram jewelry is a beautiful contemporary take on a classic style. To see more monogram jewelry, click on the monogram necklaces below.


traditional_monograms

References:
Knot the Groom
C
arved Solutions
Beekman 1802

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One Thought on “History of the Monogram

  1. Marlene V on April 18, 2014 at 11:55 am said:

    I really like the monogram necklaces

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