An Abbreviated History of the Monogram

By Greg Moniz

The name: an indelible and personal representation of one's self. It's constant and necessary. 
Stretching back to ancient Greece and Rome, the physical manifestation of one's name has been the monogram. It was first used on currency, with the monogram of a civilization's ruler acting as an issued coin's time stamp.

As time went on, the monogram trickled down to artisans and craftsmen who left their mark on their work with their monogram. By Victorian era, it had hit the masses. It was on items both sartorial (shirts, pants) and residential (sheets, curtains).

Ancient Roman coins with the monogram of Emperor Theodosius sit next to 19th century French monograms

Over its history, the monogram has taken on different forms. Historically, the letters in a monogram have been interwoven, with each one hugging the other in wriggling form. Embellishments have wavered from the minimal to the extreme. But no matter its design, the monogram has always marked a form of ownership of something outside the self. 

Yet the 20th century rise of the instantly recognizable logo, often meant to evoke luxury and prominence, put the monogram in a supporting role. It was no longer the vehicle to say "this is who I am!" to the world. Something else less personal and more ephemeral had usurped it. The replacement representation brought disparate people together on the shaky pretense that they shared a taste for something similar. But it was a hollow familiarity, a false idea that a logo separate from the self could come to be that person. 

A gradual rejection of the overly branded and vulgar has brought the personal touch of a monogram back in fashion. Its a personal touch that we love. When we refer to a monogram on a Lotuff bag, we're being a bit deceptive. The letters are not intertwined, nor does the surname take a larger, more prominent role in the middle.

Ours is a minimal, modern take on the classic monogram. The letters are the same font and the same size. Discretion conquers gaudiness, while still being a mode of self expression. 

 

It is our recognition that the most prominent branding on a great leather good should be its owners initials. As this generation gradually gives way to the next, a third-party logo or brand will most likely have little importance. But something with the monogram or its original owner is, like a name itself, something that transcends time more than an impersonal, third-person representation.