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Editor's Introduction

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Photo courtesy of Sylvia Gould

A monogram is often thought of as a decorative motif made up of a person's initials, commonly embroidered on a man's shirt cuff or handkerchief, or sometimes engraved onto cuff links. Technically, a monogram is two or more letters intertwined to form one motif or logo that could represent a person, place or company. The letters must be intertwined to be a true monogram, letters placed side by side but not intertwined are officially known as a cipher. Today, both forms are generally referred to as monograms by those less concerned with the official distinctions.

At one time, monograms were common for boys and men of all ages but were only used by a woman upon her marriage. A woman's initials were likely to change fairly early in her lifetime, so a monogram featuring her maiden initials would become out of date in many cases. As a result, monogrammed items became common gifts for women when they married; it was only then that they displayed their new (and presumably, lifelong) initials.

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