Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Old Linen - Monograms from A to Z - Part 1



The use of monograms has a very long history. 
Human beings were using monograms 
as a means of identification before they used written language. 
In ancient times, monograms were used to sign art works or coins. 
In the middle ages their use spread widely as a signature.

It's important to remember that most kings and emperors 
were not able to write or even to sign their own name! 
Neither Charlemagne (Karl der Grosse) nor Théodoric, king of the Wisigoths,
were able to write and instead used monograms. 

In order to signify power, monograms had to be formal and beautiful 
thus elaborate models were conceived by calligraphers (1)




 As far back as the 18th Century, 
it became common to mark linens with the initials of their owner, 
largely in order to identify them as laundering was a collective, communal task. 
 It was not uncommon for whole villages to participate all at once in the laundering of their linens.

These initials were more often than not embroidered in red 
as madder was the most common, most durable and the least expensive dye available. 

Initially the style of letters used was Gothic or Roman. (1) 


French mid-19th large hemp sheets from the Auvergne region


However embroideresses found these styles too limited for the expression of their talent, 
so they began to invent new and more sophisticated styles 
 that added ornament and flourishes to their whitework embroidery.




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Learning to Stitch Monograms

 
Starting in the mid-19th century in certain continental countries 
most girls were taught at school to sew and embroider. 

A distinction was made in marking linens between utilitarian work made with "point de marque" 
and white embroidery, the latter was a means of not only embellishing the piece 
but also a manner of proving the talent, refinement and social stature of the woman.

Young girls generally began their apprenticeship in sewing and embroidery 
at the tender age of five or six years old, 
and at 14 years of age they would begin the preparation of their "trousseau." 
(in German "die Aussteuer - Mitgift")

The trousseau comprised not only the marriage sheet, 
but all the linens they would need for married life. 
 Sometimes they started by embroidering only one letter, 
the one of their own name as the identity of their future husband was still unknown. (1)





(2)

When I was 6 years old, I've learned at school all kind of  "Handarbeit",
needlework, knitting, crocheting, 
and - very important - monogram embroidery for the trousseau.

It was a MUST for every girl to learn this as early as possible.
 Everybody of us had a "Sticktuch"- a sampler,

 
 (3)
unfortunately I've lost mine......over the years ... :-(


But now let's start with the ABC....with the first part of it
  showing some monograms from
 A  to  J
on old linen and hemp from
mid-19th century (1850's) to early 20th century (1920-30's),
 all selected from my own stock and collection



A



*

French guest or hand towel


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AA - French linen damask napkin

A simple embroidered crown symbolized nobility in Europe. 
It can be accompanied by letters or more sophisticated adornments
 such as a coat of arms or the family's motto (see also monogram CC)

The continental aristocracy (except in Germany) rarely used three letter monograms 
as they preferred to use either a crown with their initials below or their coat of arms. (1)


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AB - French chemise in hemp




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AJ - German kitchen towel

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AR - French hemp 'Nappe de vendange'

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French linen damask napkin

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French linen damask napkins

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B


Detail of a French linen Drap
 living now happily in Trish's house TROUVAIS  
here

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BB - French linen damask napkins

 *

 
BG - German man's shirt in hemp

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French hemp sheet



*

 

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 MB - French Drap in fil de lin - fine linen over sheet







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C
 CC - French Aristocrat silk-damask serviette de visage




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 CCB - French Drap and 2 pillow cases, made of the finest linen

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CB - German hemp chemise

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CB - French linen over sheet
but....with a bit of fantasy... it could be also read  GB...

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D


*


 DX - French hemp sheet

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DF - French linen damask napkins



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CD - French lady's chemise - night shirt, in fine linen

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CD - French linen damask napkin



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CD - French Drap in fil de lin - over sheet in fine linen


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French guest towel



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French bath towels from the Bearn region

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RD - French linen damask napkin

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French linen damask napkins

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DR - French DRAP in very fine linen




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E



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EB - German linen damask napkins



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French linen sheet



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EB - French linen damask napkin

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F


FE - German hand towel

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 FA- French large hemp towel from a manor house

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AF - French 'serviette de vendange in fine linen

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*



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FG - German handwoven kitchen towels

*
G


GV - French chemise in hemp

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GM - French large linen damask table cloth

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GB - French fine linen over sheet

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GB - French linen Drap - see detail under B,
now at TROUVAIS   here

*



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AG - French linen damask napkin

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GD - French guest towel

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BG - French linen damask napkin

*



*
H



HL - Set of 16 napkins and a table cloth of banquet size
silk-linen damask of superb quality



*


*


HG or HC - French linen/cotton country napkin

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I



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Pair of vintage hemp sacks

*

J



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French linen sheet - Drap

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JG - French linen damask napkins


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French linen damask napkin

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Pair of French linen/hemp sheets

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Pair of French hemp sheets

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JR - French linen sheet


....will be continued with  monograms from K to Z...
...part 2 - next post
*
see also my post about monogrammed French linen Draps (over sheets)
here
For any further info or inquiry please contact me

*
*
* Oh - by the way....

HAPPY BIRTHDAY  !

 
to 
Fats Domino    
born February 26, 1928, in New Orleans



All the best for his
 85th
...and... more happy returns!




English text sources:
(1)   here
images (2) and (3):
"Sticktuecher" found at ebay 
Fats Domino    here

13 comments:

  1. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Karin

    I join you in wishing the great Fats Domino a very Happy Birthday. We could serve him cake and high tea on one of your beautiful embroidered tablecloths. Like you, I learned to sew, knit and embroider at a very young age. To this day I still love hand-sewing, particularly on pure linen, pure silk and cotton.

    A beautiful post

    Have a glorious week

    Helen xx

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just a beautiful post Karin! I have been collecting vintage linen for years and sold it through my store. My favourites were embroidered monogram pieces, and I have managed to keep several !! Imagine that ! When we are selling these beauties, I always felt compelled to sell, of course....but I always felt such remorse as they left the shop! Looking forward to part two, N.xo

    ReplyDelete
  4. Je viens de me régaler en ouvrant votre blog... Une publication très intéressante.
    Ma grand-mère était brodeuse et brodait de très beaux monogrammes...
    gros bisous

    ReplyDelete
  5. A lovely post! Thanks for showing us these things so interesting. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. How very lovely one picture after the other! It looks like that very colorful piece a jacquard that has been 'rebrodé' - over-embroidered in red and ochre? Is that right?
    That was also a nice surprise at the end with the Fats' song. I'm originally from New Orleans!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dear Karin, I'm impressed with your stack of linens and I have seen them personally. Wonderful photographs and very interesting history lesson. ox, Gina

    ReplyDelete
  8. Quel bonheur Karin, un très beau post : plein de matières, de rouge brodé avec patience et talent, je ne lasse pas de ces merveilles.Merci d'avoir entrouvert vos armoires et de nous en faire profiter.
    M.Claude

    ReplyDelete
  9. Monogrammed linens are so beautiful. What lovely examples you have shown. I especially love those intertwined A's with the crown.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Interesting post and lovely pics to accompany it. Look forward to seeing more ...
    M x

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  11. Beautiful photos. I am always amazed at the work that went into these linens.

    Thank you for sharing them with us.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I’m usually to running a blog and i actually respect your content about Linen Shirts.The article has really peaks my interest. I’m going to bookmark your site and preserve checking for new information.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'd love to learn this thing! I remember, my mom used to teach me that when I was still young but unfortunately, I never learn. I think now is the time.

    SavannahFineLinens.com

    ReplyDelete