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Monograms first appeared not simply to be decorative or even to denote ownership, but rather to identify craftsmanship or location of creation. The first known monograms appeared on coins in ancient Greece and identified the coins by location of minting. Monograms have a long history with artists and craftsmen. Craftsmen participating in guilds marked their work with monograms to enforce measures against unauthorized participation in the trade. Today, some craftsmen who build furniture by hand still mark their work in this way to denote authenticity.

Artists often sign their works or mark them with monograms or ciphers to indicate to others that they produced them and to ensure authenticity, thus discouraging forgeries or cheap replicas. Collectors will seek out these marks of identity and will prize pieces that have them over those that do not. Monograms were once common among royalty and the aristocracy as well as craftsmen and artists, but it took a while for monograms to become common with the middle class. Monograms are now seen in jewelry, linens and towels, stationery and clothing.

I love seeing monograms in less expected places. It's so much more fun than simply writing your name or initials on something to indicate ownership. Since monograms became a hot trend, I have seen rings, earrings, key chains, custom stamps for wedding invitations, carved hand soaps and candles, and even decorative floor tile mosaics.

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