Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vintage Monograms for the Table

Yes, we're talking about monograms - again! Reese Witherspoon is famous for her love of monograms. This quote sums up her philosophy on them:

"My sheets are monogrammed, so is my silverware and pretty much everything else I own. My rule is, if it's not moving, monogram it."

We'll assume that was a tongue-in-cheek comment . . . but, it brings us to our topic of monograms for the table. While it is possible to buy new monogrammed china, flatware, acrylic serving pieces, linens, etc., vintage monogrammed items often have much more charm. Most new monograms are simply three letters side by side whereas in a true monogram the letters intertwine. For obvious reasons, it is rare to find someone who can create these intricate designs today - and the cost would be prohibitive. Enter vintage monograms!

Take a look at this beautiful salad plate. It's around 100 years old and has a hand-painted monogram. The letters are SAS, presumably with 'A' being the initial of the owner's surname. This is part of a set of 6 that I purchased at a local shop for less than $25 - all are in perfect condition. What a deal - of course, these are not my initials, not even one letter! But, that's the great thing about vintage monograms, they work regardless of the initials. And if these were a family heirloom there's a strong chance the initials would not match mine anyway. Here's a closer look at the initials - see how the letters loop around each other?

How about the monogram on the sterling salt spoon below?

I enlarged it a great deal so you can see the intricacy - it's impossible to decipher. There are four letters, maybe even three Ms and an N - perhaps the original owner's name was something like Mary Margaret Newcombe Mason? Keep in mind that the whole salt spoon is around four inches so these letters are very small. The point is, it's a lovely item with a hand-engraved monogram. New silver usually has machine monograms and they just don't have the warmth and creativity of the old hand-engraved pieces. And, monogrammed items like these plates and silver are much less expensive than their unmonogrammed counterparts. The same goes for table linens.

Often monograms on linen were created by the owner. This damask cloth is a perfect example; you can tell the embroiderer was an amateur, but it's still lovely. Monogram patterns were available for the home stitcher and a large number of monogrammed items were created by young brides and matrons alike. The result for us is a ready supply of antique monogrammed linens - with a little patience you can even find your own monogram on eBay. If we didn't have electronic diversions today, perhaps we'd all be monogramming napkins or sheets right now? Oh well . . . no need to unplug, you can create a beautiful table with vintage monograms and you don't need a thimble or needle.


  1. Some monograms are not very exciting, but these certainly are! I would be very happy using these plates with SAS on the. In fact I think I would prefer them to my own initials. I also sort of prefer the ones that can't be deciphered...makes it seem more like a pattern than a monogram. Thanks for posting these.

  2. I also like monograms that can't be deciphered . . . it's kind of a mystery that's also beautiful.

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