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Stationery Etiquette: How to Choose Stationery

Monterrey Note from Giftsin24.com“A WOMAN is known by the stationery she uses. Paper talks. We read between the lines, along the margin, and across the envelope, the story of good or bad taste which speaks in tone, texture and design.” So opens A Desk Book on the Etiquette of Social Stationery published in 1910 and written by Jean Wilde Clark. What was true then, with a slight tweak, is still true today. Our stationery can speak worlds about us. What’s changed? “The Rules,” or stationery etiquette, are more relaxed: we no longer must use black-bordered mourning stationery after a loved one’s death, for example. In addition, we can all agree that men have just as much of a need for stationery, and that their stationery choices speak for them too.

What’s more, in this age of fast fashion, speed-of-light communication across the globe, what’s “In Style” changes on a dime. And that makes us lucky: there’s no need to cram our taste into rigid expectations of what’s proper or even what’s in style. Sure, white or ivory paper will always be correct. But if you want to use red pepper, who will care? Citrus paper? Be my guest. The fabulous Jackie O used robin’s egg blue paper. If she could do that in the 1960s, the sky is the limit for us in the late 2010s.

On the one hand, the lack of stylistic expectations is liberating, because it means we have the freedom to choose whatever stationery suits us. On the other hand, it can be slightly intimidating, because we’ve got almost unlimited choices.

Damask Card from Giftsin24.comLet it be your style.

There’s one rule to follow in 2017/2018: You be you. Don’t worry about what a friend is doing, or what you saw in a magazine.

Not sure what you like? Look at the furnishings in your home and the clothes you wear.

Do you tend toward traditional (try a 3-letter monogram), primitive country (try a quirky or hand-lettered font), or contemporary (try your name in block letters)?

Like neat, clean surfaces (look for simple lettering) or do you like to cram every nook and cranny with beloved objects (look for curvy, embellished designs)?

Do you like to follow the rules (center the personalization at the top) or do you like to push them (personalization goes in a corner or at the bottom)?

What colors do you like to surround yourself with? Pastels? Metallics? Jewel Tones? Neutrals?

Take advantage of the preview function when considering lettering styles for your name. Scrutinize the way your initials look – perhaps you like one font’s S better than another?

These are great clues to help you pull together your stationery style. In the end, whatever you choose will be perfect, because you chose it.

Anthony Card with border from giftsin24.comBusiness or personal?

When you’re writing a note to your pastor, the school principal, or your favorite author, you might want to consider a more formal letter sheet or correspondence card that tends toward business-like. Perhaps it’s embossed. Perhaps it’s on white paper with gray ink. Or ivory paper with coffee ink. This stationery might include your middle initial and the formal version of your first name.

It will work equally well for when you’re sending a gift to your best friend, writing to your brother, or thanking your neighbor for her homemade scones. Or, for those more personal uses, you could purchase a second set that reveals your more relaxed side. Any form — letter sheet, flat card or folded note — will do. Perhaps there is a small illustration, or your nickname, rather than your given name. You might use colored paper with black or metallic ink or a more brightly colored ink on ivory paper.

Caprice Note is a raised ink folded note from giftsin24.com

Raised ink vs. embossing?

It’s really a matter of choice. Raised-ink printing, or thermography, is a more affordable version of engraving. Engraving, a centuries-old printing method, requires the creation of dies, which are expensive to produce and reside at the stationery company until you require more stationery. Raised-ink printing conveys a pleasing texture and a shimmery quality to the ink.

Embossing lends an even more delicious texture because the paper is pressed from below. In that sense embossing resembles traditional engraving, as well. Especially on white or ivory paper, embossing tends to be more formal. It also tends to be more earth-friendly, because the paper recycles easily.

So to recap, choosing stationery can be an enjoyable and fulfilling exercise. Taking time to think about your style and consider your options will reward you each time you sit down to write. See all of our personalized  correspondence cards and folded notes. Happy choosing!

Introducing…Personal Style Tool

Giftsin24 offers dozens of exclusive monogramsGiftsin24.com offers dozens of lettering styles and monograms. We pride ourselves on offering you lots of choices to find that perfect typeface that matches your personality. We offer different lettering style choices on different products. When you’ve found a favorite lettering style, you can now more easily and quickly find products that offer it with our new Personal Style Tool.

Within just a few seconds, you can see at least 50 personalized items, choose one, and order it. It’s never been easier to create a personalized gift on our website.

Using Our Personal Style Tool

From the home page, simply enter your name or monogram, and we’ll show your moniker in 10 of our most popular lettering styles.

The Personal Style Tool looks like this:

Personal Style Tool at Giftsin24.com

 

Like a lettering style? Click on it and we’ll show you products that offer this particular lettering style. These items range from notes and cards to napkins and notepads, to coasters and glassware, to picture frames and cutting boards and so much more!

Giftsin24 offers dozens of exclusive lettering styles and monograms

Your personalization will look fabulous on any of these products. Click on one you like to learn more about it. Just click the “Order Now” button on the bottom left side to see your personalization in your chosen lettering style on this product. In some cases, we can’t show you the entire product, but you can get a good idea.

If, you’re not sure this product is for you, you can go back to product results page. Or, try a new lettering style.

If you’d like to move forward with this particular product, just make a few quick choices, such as ink color, if applicable. We’ll create this item just for you in one business day. Remember, ground shipping is always free. 😊

It’s super easy, so try it right now at https://www.giftsin24.com/

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

Monogram Magic: Monogramania Hits Fever Pitch in the Victorian Age

In our previous blog, we explored the ancient history of the monogram. We saw that for centuries, people used monograms widely – on everything from coins to letters to homes and pottery. But people really went crazy for the monogram during the Victorian Era (1837-1901). In fact, one writer of the day called the art of collecting monograms an “epidemic” and named the monogram’s most ardent fans “monogramaniacs.”

Whitlock Monogram from Giftsin24.com

Our Whitlock Monogram is based on a popular Victorian motif.

What was going on? The Industrial Revolution ushered in a new middle class of factory owners, bankers, railroad managers, insurance agents, merchants and all the salaried professionals who helped run these businesses, as well as new ranks of civil servants, teachers, doctors and lawyers, according to Donna Loftus, author of “The Rise of the Victorian Middle Class.” Millions of people now had disposable income, and they desired some of the comforts of the upper classes. They began purchasing household goods as well as clothing, watches and jewelry, which the new economy had made more plentiful and affordable than ever before.

Celebrity and the Monogram

At the same time, the idea of celebrity took on power in popular culture. People began collecting crests and monograms of the rich and famous, according to Nancy Sharon Collins, author of The Complete Engraver. 

Monogram for Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria’s Monogram went through many iterations. Here is a simple one.

Enthusiasts created albums of their most prized monograms, marks and seals. In this age of avid letter writing, “coats of arms or monograms from famous families, politicians, opera stars, or members of the theater were particularly coveted and displayed,” writes Collins.

Whole books explored and documented monogram design, such as An Encyclopedia of Monograms, published in 1884. The book included 5,000 decorative monograms to inspire artists and craftspeople.

Popular women’s magazines of the time, such as Godeys Lady’s Book and Peterson’s Magazine, regularly included alphabets, initials, names and monograms. Middle class readers copied them to embroider nearly every scrap of cloth – tablecloths, sheets, towels, pillowcases and clothing. “Hardly an item in her home escaped from being monogrammed,” writes Rita Weiss, editor of Victorian Alphabets, Monograms and Names. “Young girls learned how to embroider simple alphabets on the linens for her trousseau,” Weiss continues. “By the time she got married, her skills improved and she was ready for more expert work.”

Louis Vuitton monogram

Louis Vuitton company developed its monogram in 1896.

Monogrammed Needlework Attains Art Status

The expert needlework skills attained by women – at all levels of society – and the invention of the Jacquard loom, which spurred faster and cheaper textile manufacturing, coincided to create the perfect circumstances for a boom in monogrammed linens like we’ve never seen before or since, according to Robin Molbert in Monograms and Antique Linens. “Bold and artful monogramming burst into vogue, serving as a kind of democratizing factor in the personalization of one’s linens,” writes Molbert. In England, France and the U.S., women formed sewing and embroidery circles to enjoy and support one another in their endeavors. They shared ideas and perfected their art, incorporating many other aspects including lacework, cut-outs, florals, animal figures and much more.

To this day, many people still cherish, value and collect antique linens from the Victorian Age. A rather funny example: In December 2016, a pair of Queen Victoria’s monogrammed bloomers went on auction, expected to be sold for £6,000. Some famous monograms developed by the Victorians continue to be in vogue. The world of consumer goods offers a perfect example: The interlocking L and V on Louis Vuitton’s bags and luggage. His son Georges designed the iconic image in 1896 to increase sales.

And the practice of monogramming continues to be popular. Whether it’s stationery or wine glasses, ornaments or napkins, personalizing one’s possessions conveys tradition and a sense of pride.

Our story about the monogram isn’t over. Next we ask: what exactly is a monogram?

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

 

Sources:

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

Donna Loftus. “The Rise of the Victorian Middle Class.”   BBC History. Website.

Robin Molbert. “The Royal Lineage of Table Linens.” Monograms and Antique Linens. HM Books, 2016.

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

Rita Weiss, editor.Victorian Alphabets, Monograms and Names. Dover Publishing, 1974.

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.