Monograms: The Etiquette of the Table

Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer/Fall 1997

In choosing a flatware monogram, you'll need to stick to something appropriate to the style you have chosen -- no Art Deco letters for a Georgian pattern, or vice versa. As Kim Harwood, manager of James Robinson, a New York City store that sells antique silver, jewelry, glass, and porcelain, points out, "Any monogram is going to change the look of your pattern. That's why we do a lot of engraving on the back." Some letters don't work with certain monogram styles, notes Wawrynek. If nothing seems exactly right, engraving departments can often come up with something new.

Choose a simple, classic pattern, and your silver flatware can take almost any kind of monogram. A pyramid of three initials (above) suits the slim handle of Tiffany and Company's "Faneuil" pattern, while three script letters (facing away from the diner) spread out across the gentle swell of Tiffany's "King William." Initials placed sideways echo the linear design of Tiffany's "Hamilton" and also the position of the knife blade. Placing a monogram discreetly on the back of each piece of silver leaves the integrity of Tiffany's "Hampton" intact. One initial may look best when space is at a premium.

Antique butter knives (below) were found engraved with the right initial and made a perfect shower gift, but any unadorned set can be embellished to your specifications.

Etched gothic initials (below) enliven simple tumblers.

There are no rules of etiquette with regard to glass stemware. Monograms range widely in shapes and sizes, from the simple B at left to the elaborate decorative cipher on the tallest glass.

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