It was a little red billfold my Grandmama Norton gave me when I was eight that made me realize how special a gift personalized with a monogram can be. Each time I pulled my money out or, less frequently, put some money in, I noticed my shiny initials lined up in gold letters across the inside of my wallet: PFN — the initials that meant my name. They announced “This is mine.” And I was proud.
When I was in high school, my mother gave me a monogrammed purse. Carrying it, I was always careful to turn my initials outward so everyone could see them. That was the year monogrammed shirts and sweaters were in fashion, too. I was especially glad my initials didn’t come together as a word. You would have to pity Penelope Inez Gunther! A middle initial beginning with a vowel can either work for or against you. Kitten-like Catherine Ann Tuggle had it made.
Though these were my introductions to the charm of having one’s own initials placed on a personal possession, I have since learned that monogramming is not new. Also called service marks, monograms were originally placed on linens as a means of identification, and many household linens of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were numbered as well as marked with initials. Woven by hand, linen was a symbol of family wealth, more valued than furniture, silver, or jewelry. Linens were something to be cherished, used with care, and protected.
Have you monogrammed any favorite possessions? I’d love to hear about it!