When Edward Windsor married Wallis Warfield Simpson in 1936, a monogram of three gracefully interlocking WWWs was created for her, and because Edward was once the king of England and a man of great power, the royal monogram adorned her linens, towels, stationery, handbags and many other items.
Monograms have always suggested that their owner is a person of taste and influence, and they have appeared on sheets, towels and linen napkins for centuries. But recently, monograms have begun to pop up in other spheres of the home, adding their note of customized luxury.
Williams-Sonoma Home, an upscale catalog of home furnishings and accessories that is part of the Williams-Sonoma empire, will monogram its quilted cashmere sofa pillows, soaps, barware and silver candle "sleeves" shaped like little ice buckets, as well as all the classic bed and bath items. Hickory Chair, a national furniture maker with signature lines by designers Mariette Himes Gomez, Alexa Hampton, Thomas O'Brien and others, this year began offering dining chairs with monogrammed backs.
Other home-interiors catalogs such as Charles Keith and Ballard Designs show monogrammed bath rugs, shower curtains, wastebaskets and ottomans. Frontgate and West Elm, two other catalogs of objects for the home, show a monogrammed mailbox, monogrammed disposable hand towels, mirrored boxes and frames and even a monogrammed mosaic seal - 4 feet in diameter - for customizing the bottom of your swimming pool.
Longtime market watcher Gale Steves agrees that monograms seem to have exploded in popularity. "I think it reflects the fact that we live in a very impersonal world and we like personalization," she says. "The consumer is looking for ways to say, 'This is mine.'"
Steves, a New York-based writer, editor and industry consultant, says that although monograms have been around for a long time - most traditionally on textiles such as sheets and towels - the monogram is not an old-fashioned idea.
"It's a very creative idea. ... You're only limited by your ability to see this as a design element," she says. "In a world of Wal-Marts and Kmarts and Sears, people want to be ever so slightly different."
Anne Farrow writes for the Hartford Courant.