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Monogram Magic: Unpacking the Modern Monogram

Classic Monogram is a modern monogram from giftsin24.com

Classic Monogram features script letters that overlap.

In the previous three blog posts, we’ve explored many aspects of the Monogram, including its ancient history, its Victorian popularity and its definition. Today, we talk about the modern monogram, its meaning and uses. What does the monogram say about ourselves and our culture? Why do we use it?

Monogram as brand

In modern American culture, one of the most prominent uses of the monogram is to mark the corporate brand. Companies spend millions of dollars designing and promoting their company names. They often reach for the monogram to create a compelling identity marker in the public sphere. Think: Louis Vuitton (LV) and Coco Chanel (CC), General Electric (GE), CNN, HP, NBA, and on and on. Many of these brands are household names. We consumers instantly identify companies by two or three letters and their unique typographical or design treatments. That’s a monogram at its most powerful. Corporations wield monograms like royalty of yore, using it as a mark of trust, authenticity and quality.

Circle Monogram from giftsin24.com

Monogram as indulgence

One of the most powerful historical meanings of the monogram that still persists today is a mark of royalty and celebrity. When we monogram our sheets or a wine glass, we think of ourselves as indulging in a taste of luxury. Monograms are a treat, especially when they are embossed in beautiful paper or engraved into a beautiful wood picture frame or embroidered on a gorgeous piece of linen. When we can afford to, we reach for this small sign of sophistication and good taste. When we decide to purchase personalized stationery rather than plain, we are taking that step to rise out of the mundane. We want to feel special and unique.

Modern monogram as touchstone

Monogrammed coasters give a personal touch.

Lovely monograms engraved on glass coasters.

Finally, in our modern day culture that is digitized, easily duplicated, complicated and busy, we crave touchstones to simpler times. In this way, monograms have a conversation with the past, as well as the present. Social media reproduces a million copies in an instant. But a monogram is a mark of hand-crafted tradition. Typographical experts create a monogram. And craftspeople apply it. We emboss and embroider it. We engrave it.

In defiance of email or texting, we send a monogrammed note to thank our friends and family. We beat back the impersonal forces in our lives when we lay our heads on the embroidered pillow cases our Great Aunt Margie made for her wedding trousseau. We replicate that hand-made, bespoke quality when we give a new bride and groom a monogrammed, engraved set of wine glasses.

With so many lovely designs and practical uses, the modern monogram is here to stay.

Explore our monogrammed products.

 

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    Monogram Magic: What is a Monogram?

    Monograms from giftsin24.comIn two previous blogs, we talked about the ancient history of monograms that traces all the way back to the Greeks, as well as the Victorian mania for monograms that had people putting their monograms on everything from their tablecloths to their bloomers. Today, we’ll be taking a step back and asking: what is a monogram? Be prepared to learn some things to pull out at your next cocktail party conversation.

    If you ask your friends what a monogram is, they might say that it’s a series of three letters representing your name.

    That’s all well and good, but, actually, the common dictionary definition of a monogram does not include a specific number of letters. Merriam-Webster Dictionary says a monogram is “a sign of identity usually formed of the combined initials of a name.”

    The word “monogram” derives from two Greek words: mono, meaning single, and gram, meaning letter. It means that letters were combined into one sign or symbol.

    So in contemporary, popular culture, the idea of a monogram is actually not well-defined. Can it have two letters? Five letters? Do the letters connect or can they float freely? How are they arranged: sideways or up-and-down? Are letters block or script? In today’s world, we don’t seem to sweat the details; all seem acceptable.

    In the Victorian Age (1837-1901), people thought that sometimes the letters of a monogram should connect and intertwine, even if that meant you couldn’t actually read the letters. At other times, legibility was important.

    Sienna Monogram Note from giftsin24.com

    The Sienna Monogram Note features a flowing, elegant monogram where letters overlap and interlace, and are almost difficult to read.

    Here’s J.O. Kane, the editor of An Encyclopedia of Monograms, writing in 1884: “For some uses, the intention of the device should be conspicuous and obvious, and its component letters readily distinguishable at first sight. In other cases, it is more tasteful and appropriate, by superimposing or interlacing the letters, or other means, to slightly veil, as it were, the meaning of the composition, and to aim at a certain ornamental construction whose component parts shall be less distinct and obvious to the eye.”

    Cipher Vs. Monogram?

    If you are the type of person who likes rules, a modern monogram scholar, Nancy Sharon Collins, author of The Complete Engraver, introduces the term “cipher” to help to clarify the situation – perhaps.

    Sydney features loopy letters.

    Cipher?

    Paris monogram from giftsin24.com

    Monogram?

    “A cipher,” she writes, “is any arrangement of two or more initials. The letters do not have to connect.”

    “The letters of a monogram on the other hand,” writes Collins, “share essential strokes and curves. Monograms do not have to be legible, whereas ciphers typically are.”

    Let’s note that we usually associate the word “cipher” with the idea of a code or something you have to interpret. For this reason, we aren’t sure that the term cipher helps clear things up. The meaning fights its colloquial use and may muddy the waters more: Ciphers – free-standing letters – are actually easier to read than monograms – highly interconnected letters that can be hard to read.

    Types of Monograms

    If we look at the designs offered here at giftsin24.com, we see a variety of styles, both “ciphers” and “monograms.” We label all these marks “monograms” on our website.

    We have block letters that don’t touch. These, Collins would say, are ciphers.

    Circle Monogram from giftsin24.com

    Circle Monogram features block letters that don’t touch. It’s a more modern look and feel.

    We have two-letter monograms, such as Dorset. The strokes overlap. It’s hard to tell one letter from another. For these reasons, Dorset might fall into the category of a true monogram, even though it’s only two letters.

    Dorset Monogram from giftsin24.com

    Dorset two-letter monogram includes letters that overlap and are more difficult to read. Here is a T and an H.

    And, giftsin24 also features three-letter monograms where letters thread through one another.

    Classic monogram from giftsin24.com

    Classic Monogram features script letters that overlap in a more traditional feel.

    So there, you have it…some food for thought about the exciting world of monograms. Are you ready for your next cocktail party? Tune in next time when we explore the modern uses and meanings of monograms.

     

    Sources:

    Nancy Sharon Collins. The Complete Engraver: Monograms, Crests, Ciphers, Seals, and the Etiquette of Social Stationery. Princeton Architectural Press, 2012

    J. O’Kane. An Encyclopedia of Monograms. Originally published in 1884. Reprinted by Dover Publishing in 2003.

     

     

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      Monogram Magic: Ancient History

      You love your monogrammed stationery…it expresses your identity, connects you to tradition, and symbolizes your enjoyment of the good things in life. For all of these reasons, monogramming is undergoing a renaissance. But did you know how the monogram came to be “a thing”? In these next four posts, we look into the history of the monogram, its heyday in the Victorian era, as well as its meanings and contemporary uses.

      Charlemagne's monogram

      Charlemagne’s monogram

      In fact, the origins of the monogram go way back. Not on paper or even cloth: those are relatively recent applications. The first monograms were stamped on coins in ancient Greece. Along the way, monograms have bridged the gap between word and image to create potent symbols of identity and authenticity.

      In Western culture, the earliest known monograms popped up on ancient Greek coins in around 300 B.C.  (In Asian cultures, since their written characters do not stand for letter sounds, the monogram evolved a little differently.) The initials belonged to the private bankers, city-states or rulers that made the currencies, according to the online Handbook of Greek Coinage. In these early days of money, when issuers wanted people to trust using it, the monograms lent authenticity.

      Constantine the Great's monogram

      Constantine the Great’s monogram

      This practice of stamping coins with monograms continued for centuries, according to A Study of the Development of Monograms. For example, Constantine the Great, who founded Constantinople in 324 A.D. created one of the most famous monograms, a large P with an x through the stem. Another famous coin monogram belonged to the emperor Charlemagne.  He liked it so much, he decided to use his monogram instead of his face on his coins.

      Signatures, Buildings, Homes and Art

      The history of the monogram continued as other uses developed. Does your Grandmother have a signet ring? It derives from the fancy signet rings rulers wore that allowed them to quickly sign documents using a blop of wax. Later, masons proudly carved their monograms or stone masons’ signs into new cathedrals.

      Albrecht Durer's monogram

      Albrecht Durer’s monogram

      Around this time, people like farmers and prominent citizens began  monogramming their walls, prized equipment and even gravestones. These were called house marks.

      Later in the 15th century, artists used monograms to sign their works. Italian potters created quite intricate and sometimes beautiful monograms on the bottoms of fine majolica vessels, according to Marks and Monograms on European and Oriental Pottery and Porcelain. And Renaissance painter Albrecht Dürer developed one of the more famous monograms, an attractive D under an A.

      But the Victorians took monogramming to a whole new level. Tune in to the next post, where we explore “monogramania” in the 1800s.

      Explore our lines of monogrammed Cards, Notes, Notepads, Napkins & Guest Towels, and all Monogrammed Items.

       

      Sources:

      The Handbook of Greek Coinage

      A Study of the Development of Monograms: From Ancient Greek Coins to Contemporary Logos

      Marks and Monograms on European and Oriental Pottery and Porcelain. William Chaffers. 14th edition. Borden Publishing Company, Los Angeles, CA.

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        Meet the New Orchid Monogram

        Orchid Monogram Card ships in 24 hours

        The new Orchid Monogram Cards is full of romance.

        If you love our Elise or Paris monograms, you will surely enjoy our new Orchid monogram. It’s the same flirty lettering style, but it features a dramatic embellishment that swirls along the edge of the card.

        There’s nary a straight line to be found. All romance and soft curves, the Orchid monogram displays your love of life. You are not content to follow the straight and narrow. You like to savor life’s pleasures.

        Made from triple-thick paper in a 4.5″ x 6.2″ size, the Orchid Monogram Card offers plenty of room to write. We print the monogram in your choice of 11 raised ink colors, including red, gold, fuschia, purple and black.

        This card, like all of our notes and cards, comes in a set of 50 cards with 50 envelopes.

        Optional Hand-Inserted Linings with Orchid Monogram Note

        To make it even more special, opt for hand-inserted linings with your envelopes. Choose from satiny silver, opal , gold, red and many more papers.

        Designed by Embossed Graphics, America’s favorite social stationery company, this folded note is made in the USA. Their long-time, experienced craftspeople dedicate themselves to perfection. In some cases they have been creating stationery for 20 or even 30 years.

        See the Orchid Monogram Card here.

         

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          Classic Embossed Monograms

          Nothing says quiet sophistication quite like classic a embossed monogram. Giftsin24 has a large selection of monogrammed notes and cards to choose from. We have traditional script monograms, classic initial monograms and eclectic, artistic monograms. All of our monograms are deeply embossed and showcase your initials in delicate detail. Whether you personalize a foldover note or a flat-panel card with your personal initials, you will appreciate the fine quality and exceptional beauty of our monograms.

          Classic and refined. The perfect embossed monogram!

          Classic and refined. The Classic Frame Note has the perfect embossed monogram!

          Choose from a prominent 2 ½” size monogram or a traditional 1 ½” monogram, embossed borders and frames, and multiple paper colors. Our paper is smooth and thick – a pleasure to write on. You will truly enjoy corresponding with these luxurious papers!

          Need help choosing? Here’s a little Monogram Etiquette 101:

          • Couples – The monogram will be the bride’s first initial, the couple’s last name, and the groom’s first initial, in that order. For example, Mary and John Smith would be M S J.

          • Women – A woman’s monogram is traditionally presented as first, last and middle initial. So Mary Elizabeth Jones would be M J E. It is always appropriate to use a woman’s initials in this way, even if married; however, it’s more common to use her first, maiden and married surname if she does marry. For example, Mary Elizabeth Jones Smith would then be M S J.

          • Men – A gentleman’s monogram is often done in first, middle and last initial order. John Andrew Smith would be JAS. In this instance, the initials are all the same size. You may also choose to put the gentleman’s surname in the middle, as J S A, with the center initial larger in size.

          "Embossed

          • Children – A child’s monogram follows the traditional first, last, middle initial order.

          As with any monogrammed gift, you will want to consider the age and tastes of the recipient – traditional, modern or whimsical.

          The sculptured look of embossing has a timeless appeal. It’s a classic that never fails to impress. Browse our selection at Giftsin24.com today and find the perfect gift for every occasion.

           

           

           

           

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            New Monogram Designs

            Here at Giftsin24, we’re always working to offer you the most exciting stationery designs. That’s why our graphic artists strive to create beautiful monograms and one-of-a-kind  lettering styles. In fact, this month we’re so pleased to offer four new monogram notes in raised ink – Whitlock, Elise, Paris and Firenze Monogram. Each is a work of art. Intricate swirls and eclectic letters combine to create stunning monograms.

            New monogram designs include the Whitlock Note in raised ink

            Victorian inspired and regally impressive: Whitlock Note in raised ink.

            Victorian typography inspired the royal and impressive  Whitlock Monogram.

            Dream of the sunny Mediterranean and correspond with the Firenze Monogram note, where Italian flair meets American ingenuity.

            Or showcase your joie de vivre with the graceful Paris Monogram note.

            Our New Monogram Notes Make Beautiful Gifts

            A new monogram note is the perfect gift for the writer on your list. We offer each set of notes on smooth, luxurious paper in a choice of 10 glossy raised ink colors. We include 50 matching envelopes. To add even more luxury, we wrap your order in tissue and nestled it in a champagne colored gift box. The presentation is as beautiful as the stationery itself.

            Sienna Note: a new monogram note in raised ink.

            Giftsin24 is the leading manufacturer of social stationery in the country. Combined with our exceptional quality and manufacturing, we produce the very finest in personalized writing papers. Furthermore, we offer you amazing stationery at affordable prices. In addition, you can take advantage of our fast production and free FedEx ground shipping for all your gift-giving needs.

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              4 Steps to Perfect Wedding Thank You Notes

              Classic Monogram Bordered Card by Giftsin24.com

              Customize the Classic Monogram Bordered Card with a monogram or colored border that matches your wedding colors

              The new wedding dishes have found a home in your kitchen. The wedding photos are on their way. And memories of your blissful honeymoon are fresh in your mind. Now what? Have you written your first wedding thank you note yet?

              It might be time to tackle that pile of thank you notes you owe to your family and friends. The simple act of handwriting a thoughtful note will be a meaningful memento to them. They put in a lot of effort to help you celebrate. Taking the time to write a beautiful thank you note speaks volumes about the type of person you are and the kinds of relationships you’ll maintain for the rest of your life.

              So, find your favorite pen. Choose some beautiful stationery and consult your gift list. Then start writing.

              1. The Basic Format for the Wedding Thank You Note

              The typical format for a wedding thank you note usually goes like this:

              Salutation.

              First line: thank them for the gift–be sure to name it. If it’s money, avoid naming the amount. The words “generous gift” will suffice.

              Second line: tell them how you plan to use it, or some way that you admire or appreciate it.

              Third line: thank them for their friendship or support or for coming to your event

              Close. (Be sure both bride and groom sign each note.)

              Simple, right?

              2. Beyond the Basics

              Move beyond these basics when writing to people especially close to you, or those who put extra thought and care into the gift. Perhaps you can keep these people on a separate “short list.” Add a few lines that acknowledge the generosity of parents who footed some of the wedding expenses. Praise the thoughtfulness of an aunt who created a beautiful handmade quilt out of your childhood clothes. Thank a friend who traveled across the country to be there for your big day.

              Sienna Monogram Note from giftsin24.com makes a great wedding thank you note

              The Sienna Monogram Note features a flowing, elegant monogram. It makes a beautiful wedding thank you note.

              3. Add a Small Token

              You might also choose to share a small object or additional lines of writing that are meaningful to you. You might tuck in a favorite recipe you discovered at a restaurant on your  honeymoon. Include a special quote from a parent’s toast or a lyric from your first dance. Try slipping in seeds of your favorite tree or fruit or vegetable. Perhaps you might slide in a wedding photo of you and the person you are thanking.

              4. Choose Lovely Stationery with a Couple’s Monogram

              May we suggest writing your thank you notes on single panel cards or folded notes featuring a beautifully embossed “couple’s monogram”? Your shared last name initial takes the center spot. Her first initial is on the left, his first initial is on the right.

              Here are some of our favorites:

              Traditional Monogram Note  Simple & tasteful. Thank-you notes folded in white or ivory paper never go out of style. A perennial top-seller, our Traditional Monogram Note features a flowing, embossed script for a timeless look. Ships in 24 hours.

              Classic Frame Monogram Note from Giftsin24.com

              A couple’s monogram features the shared last initial in the center, her first initial on the left and his first initial on the right.

              Classic Frame Monogram Note   Giftsin24 features stationery by the top producer of embossed social stationery in the U.S., and this folding note is one reason why. You have to see and feel it in your hand to understand it: crisp, deeply impressed borders and gracefully winding letters lend elegant formality, while creamy, thick paper provides weight and consequence. Offered in traditional white or ivory with matching envelopes.

              Classic Monogram Bordered Card   Fashions come and go, but the Classic Monogram Bordered Card is always in style. Featuring a beautifully rendered monogram in your choice of 10 raised-ink colors and a bold border in your choice of 6 colors, this card offers a multitude of options from which to create your signature look for your wedding thank you note. Try navy ink on white paper for a classic feel. If you like your stationery to match your morning latte, try the mocha ink on ivory paper. As with all our notes and cards, 50 matching envelopes are included. Optional lined envelopes make this stationery set even more yummy.

               

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