Reese Witherspoon has famously said, “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!” From their ancient beginnings to modern times, monograms have played an integral role throughout history.
As early as 350BC, many of the early Greek and Roman coins were marked with the ruler’s monogram as a form of authentication. Royalty and military leaders symbolized their position and influence by using monograms to mark government buildings, identify objects belonging to the ruler in power, authenticate official documents, etc. In the Victorian era, aristocratic families began using custom monograms to mark their table linens, cutlery, and other household goods as a sign of prestige. Soon every household boasted their own form of monogram styles from embroidered monogram letters for noblemen to simple personalized stamps for the lower class.
Today, technology has made monogramming affordable and accessible to almost everyone. While aspiration may still play a role, monogramming is now considered a personal creative expression having very little to do with social position or wealth. Thanks to mass production, they have become ubiquitous. You no longer need to be an artisan to monogram, just plug your initials into the computer and go. This left me wanting something more unique… Something personal I could use that no one else would have. So when I met Nancy Sharon Collins, I immediately knew I simply had to have her create my very own bespoke monogram.
Nancy Sharon Collins
Nancy Sharon Collins is the country’s leading expert on engraved social stationery and founder of the eponymous Nancy Sharon Collins, Stationer LLC. She fell in love with etching while taking a printmaking class as an undergraduate and went on to receive a BFA and MFA in graphic design.
The unfolding field of digital graphic design in the 1990s broke her heart, she says. “Imagine: there I was in my Soho, NYC studio when the methods and procedures, materials and supplies, the business relationships I’d assiduously studied, garnered, and learned developing my career became suddenly obsolete. Whole industries such as typesetting, film photography, film and print retouching, color separating, plate-making, and engraving were literally put out of business by desktop publishing. Sad but true.”
Realizing she had to adapt or perish, Nancy began offering digital graphic design catering to clients such as MOMA, Bergdorf Goodman, Williams-Sonoma, and Clinique. But to save her creative soul, by night she turned to Nancy Sharon Collins, Stationer, specializing in bespoke hand engraved social stationery.
Not only does Nancy create beautiful custom stationery, but she also creates the absolute most exquisite monograms and ciphers handmade from scratch… Literally scratching with a graphite pencil on tracing paper. You can learn more about her highly interactive process here.
Over the years, many fashion labels have created their own monogram of their company initials, such as LV of Louis Vuitton, YSL of Yves Saint Laurent, the mirrored “C”s of Chanel, and Gucci’s double “G”s. These easily recognizable custom monograms are an easy way for fashion houses to brand themselves and differentiate their products from competitors. And custom monograms can now be used to create your own unique brand. Monograms are an increasingly popular branding design trend in 2022. Of course, Nancy offers corporate branding expertise, but in today’s digital, social media-driven world, creating a personal brand is more important than ever. Distinguishing yourself with a bespoke one-of-a-kind monogram is a cutting-edge, yet nostalgic, way to stand out from the pack.
“The idea is that the Bespoke Monogram (from me) is an investment. In time and cost. It should be used for everything,” said Nancy. “Back in the day, it was the one single mark to identify one’s possessions. Artists have one mark that is called an artist’s monogram. Kings and queens and monarchs had and have theirs on everything from saddles to linens to carriage stones! Think napkins and tablecloths and hankies and fine china and silverware and even Hermes handbags… One’s monogram should be the forever mark on everything!”
Here is one example from Richmond, VA sent to Nancy yesterday…
Click here to learn more about commissioning a bespoke monogram from Nancy. And in closing, I am thrilled to share the stunning monogram she made for me, which I simply could not love more! First, here are some mood boards Nancy created after I completed her “13 Questions” exercise.
And my gorgeous monogram!! It is truly a work of art, and this just the initial sketch… Next it will be turned into a Vector design graphic, and then engraved upon a copper plate. 🙂 The design was inspired by an Austrian design from the 1920s. I’m obsessed with the “hearts”!
Here are a few other examples of Nancy’s sketches…
Thank you, Nancy, for creating this treasure for me that I will use on everything for the rest of my life! Having something so beautiful, made just for me, makes me feel like a Queen.
For more from Nancy, you can read her guest post on the history of calling cards, and we cannot get enough of her book, The Complete Engraver, available via her website and Amazon. You can also follow @nancy_sharon_collins on Instagram for ongoing inspiration.
This concludes our six-week letter writing series.
THE GLAM PAD’S LETTER WRITING SERIES
Below is an outline of The Glam Pad’s six-week series on the art of letter writing, and all that is related to the subject…
- APRIL 8: Why hand-written letters and fine stationery (and calling cards!) are making a comeback, particularly among the Millennial generation. CLICK HERE TO READ
- APRIL 15: The fascinating history of calling cards, and how they are relevant today. – A guest post by Nancy Sharon Collins. CLICK HERE TO READ
- APRIL 22: An overview of resources for fine stationery. What pieces do today’s letter writing enthusiasts need in their wardrobe and why? CLICK HERE TO READ
- April 29: A fabulously fun trend… Vintage stamps! How to begin a collection and use them to personalize your correspondence. CLICK HERE TO READ
- MAY 6: Why cursive handwriting is making a comeback, and what you can do to learn or improve. CLICK HERE TO READ
- MAY 13: The ultimate in customization – A bespoke monogram and stationery created by Nancy Sharon Collins.