Monogram Etiquette

This question was asked of me several years ago…


Petunia is in a quandary about her monogrammed china. She thinks the initials should be pTb (hers) and Thomas is suggesting it could be pTt (theirs). She said she doesn’t want people over to her house and saying “Oh No! They monogrammed their china wrong”,  and to please ask Mrs. Gould.  So I’m asking you – what do you think?

My reply, and this is just my opinion…

I just looked monograms up in my etiquette books and Amy (Vanderbilt) and Emily (Post) seem to somewhat disagree. Amy said that on table linens, both the husband’s and wife’s initials are used. Emily, which is a newer book, said that the wife’s initials are used with the husband’s initials in the center. This makes sense and could be interpreted from both of the books.

I have heard of the different ways used as OLD vs NEW, and SOUTHERN vs NORTHERN. The OLD or SOUTHERN way is to use the wife’s initials with the husband’s last name in the middle (pTb). The NEW or NORTHERN way is to have the husband’s last name in the middle and the couple’s first names on the sides (pTt). I have always heard that all the household items belong to the wife and have her monogram, except for bar items, which would have his monogram. If they have separate bathrooms, he would have his own monogram there, too.

I’ll try to give you some examples of things I have around the house, which are OLD and SOUTHERN, (my family came here from Charleston). I have Silver and Linens with “aP”, for my Great Grandfather, and “ePl”, for my Great Grandmother, but none with their combined initials. I have also heard that you should never let go of your maiden name (I think this came from my grandmother, who didn’t like anyone that her children married!). My mother’s silver goblets are monogrammed using her nickname, maiden name, married namebWh”. Her name was Camilla Webber Horner, and she was nicknamed “Billie”. It should have been “cHw”, but there is nothing in my house monogrammed that way!

Bottom line, anything goes, which I’m sure you don’t want to hear. I’m OLD and SOUTHERN, and that’s the way I do things, but having said all that, I have a great monogram that I’m going to use on some sheets for Camilla and Walker, and it’s cMw, combining their names!

Hope this helps,