monograms for you!

Triple Letter strategies!

One friend collects and uses monograms that are acronyms of words or phrases. It’s surprising how often monograms form a word or an abbreviation. An MS monogram can stand for the state of Mississippi or for a liberated Miss. (as in Ms. Marple!) I have a linen sheet that bears the monogram “MLB” and all I can think of when I see it is Major League Baseball!

I have some items with the letters “ESP.” I predict that they will prove to be popular! VD can stand in for the romantic idea of Valentines Day. Though HPP for me just continually reads hippo, though that’s not bad if you are a fan of hippopotami!

Regarding TWO Letters…

Although I am a monogram collector and I adore any well-embroidered letters, I acknowledge the special feeling I get when I stumble across an item that has my very own monogram, or a combination of mine and my husband’s, or even just his. Frontward, backward or even mixed up, I do adore any of those letter combinations.

Mixing names opens up more possibilities, especially if you and your spouse have many different letters in your names. It’s more limiting for a couple named Mike and Mary! Even worse for Mike and Mary Miller. That will leave them searching only for “M”s.

Not everyone shares our monogram excitement. At one antique show, I witnessed a woman who remarked to a friend that the stack of unused linen kitchen towels on a table were embroidered with her exact triple letter monogram. And, she left them there. (I, on the other hand, would have interpreted the stack as a sign from the universe and would have scraped together any amount of money to buy the whole pile! Or even one, at the very least!)

I am also attracted to monograms that may have letters that look like my initials, even though they may not actually be them. For instance, Gs can look like Cs and so can Es and Ts in certain typefaces. Ms and Ws and Vs can sometimes resemble each other, as can Ps and Bs; Ks and Rs, Is and Ls. You get the idea!


Someone who is not entirely comfortable using old linens with someone else’s monogram may hit on the idea of choosing just those things that have been adorned with a single letter. This works well, but items with single letter monograms are the hardest to find and are most in demand.

The Disadvantages of Antique Monograms

The problem with the monogram dilemma is that you can never choose which item you would like to have at the time that you would like to have it, and usually not with the letters that you would prefer in the order in which you’d prefer them. With antiques, it truly is the thrill of the hunt! Perhaps you find a sheet with your perfect monogram; that sheet may be the wrong size for the bed you had in mind. Or, you find a tablecloth when you were really searching for napkins.

We have all had the brilliant thought to send the perfect wedding gift, and think, wouldn’t it be even more special to find a set of napkins with the couple’s monogram? Some of my practical customers buy things for tiny children or grandchildren, tucking them away to use for gifts that won’t be given until far in the future… because they have found the right monogram now and they know from experience that it will be impossible to find later.

You could widen the search to include what I call “cipher” monograms, those in which the letters are so abstracted or entwined that the actual letters can’t be distinguished. The results are often stunning. The monogram is more like a logo! But, you still can’t choose the size of the tablecloth or the bedspread or the sheet.

To anyone to whom these seem like compromises, my customers and I, who are obsessed with the quality of the fabrics and the workmanship on goods that have come from old, aristocratic families, can only smile and think, “Oh, goody! That leaves more for us!”


2 Responses to “monograms for you!”

  1. Nini Says:

    Thank you for your information! I am fairly new to antique linens and still have some trouble distinguishing between sheets that are pure linen and linen/cotton blend – metis I believe. Any tips? Thank you!

  2. linenmaven Says:

    keep at it… but there are no exact ways to know the content of anything unless it is printed or tagged. (And, those would be the more modern ones or unused ones… more rare.) Some old French sheets are stamped with the content: this is very helpful. But, most are not.
    Even metis can vary… I have seen kitchen towels with as much as 80% cotton and 20% linen or 90/10… and even these would qualify to be called metis.

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