Here at ROSA GOLD we love finding out how things came to be. So in this 3 part series, we'll dive into the fascinating history of the monogram. We'll cover origin, evolution, uses and etiquette - but first, let's talk about what a monogram actually is!
First of all, I’m not sure about you, but my favorite letter also happens to be the letter of my first name. Whenever I see a “K” on a teacup or a necklace ( or, let's face it, anything else), I feel like I NEED it.
Why is this? Most likely, our first understanding of identity comes from hearing our name and learning to write it. We probably form an emotional connection to the sound and visual image of our initial letters.
(Oh, by the way, I am not a qualified anthropologist/psychologist - whatever - this is just my guess, but I think we can all agree it sorta makes sense... right?)
Anyway, it's no secret that monograms and personalized gifts are an everlasting trend. Once you put a letter or initials on something, it becomes more meaningful. But what exactly ARE monograms? Do they simply mean your initials? Or do they have to do with design?
According to wikipedia, monograms are, “ a motif made by overlapping or combining two or more letters […] to form one symbol.”
So if we go by those rules, that would mean that this is a monogram:
And this isn't:
In the book How to Design Monograms, Elizabeth and Curtis Sprague mention ciphers, which are composed of 2-3 letters that are slightly interlaced, but independent of each other. Basically, a cipher is when you can determine each individual letter and monogram is when they are sometimes indecipherable.
So, this is a cipher:
And this is a proper monogram:
However, in modern times when we're searching for a monogrammed gift, we generally just mean something with initials or letters attached. And that's OK. But it IS fun to know the proper history.
Our entire website uses the word monogram, when ALL of our designs are actually ciphers. Ah but who cares! We think the word monogram has a better ring to it anyway!
Now, we'd LOVE to hear from you!... Why do you think we become so attached to the letters of our initials? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below!
(NOTE: All photos are from Henry Lille's "An Alphabet of Monograms")