Although used primarily as decoration here in the U.S. (or some might argue unpaid advertisement for clothing designers!) French initiales actually have a purpose beyond their beauty.
Starting in the early 19th century, the French would hand-stitch initiales as a "statement" or proof of ownership. They were artfully rendered but functional nonetheless. It was not uncommon to monogram sheets, pillowcases, napkins, handkerchiefs, shirts, dresses, nightgowns, or almost anything on which you wanted to put your stamp of ownership. Even though the initiales were artfully and beautifully stitched, the addition of beauty was not the purpose of the action. The initiales simply yet boldly said "this belongs to me!"
Not stopping with soft goods, initiales began appearing stitched onto grain sacks, painted on metal grape hods and baskets for picking grapes and olives, painted on ladders used for picking fruit, engraved on silverware, carved into bread boards and wood furniture and forged onto wrought-iron gates and cast-iron fire backs.
Hand-stitched initiales on French napkins and tablecloths
Beautifully hand-stitched initiales on vintage French gain sacks
Hand painted initiales on French Market Basket
(Courtesy of the beautiful blog French Garden House )
Initiales painted on vintage French Champagne Baskets
(Photo from the loevely website Vintageweave Interiors)
Initiales painted on vintage French Metal Grape Hods
(Photo courtesy of beautiful blog Trouvais)
Monogrammed French Silver Flatware
(Courtesy of Tongue In Cheek blog)
Initiales on Antique French Fire Back
(courtesy of Authentic Provence)
and, how can I talk about French Initiales without mentioning perhaps the most recognized .............................LV
(Courtesy of Pretty Little Green Things)
I don't have anything with these initiales, do you?
Au revoir, Mitty