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Personalization Throughout History

Personalization Throughout History

  • Sep 25, 2018
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“To all those who lead monotonous lives, in the hope that they may experience at second hand the delights and dangers of adventure”

- Agatha Christie, The Secret Adversary.

A simple dedication, but a big idea. Throughout literary history, title pages, dedications, and personal inscriptions have set the tone for the story about to be told. They give credit to the volume’s inspiration, they dedicate the tome to the reader, they inscribe their wishes, hopes, or dreams. Above all, they add one last piece of themselves to mark their work as their own.

This is me. This is mine. 

Never judge a book by its cover. This ages old proverb encourages us to look beyond the surface of something, to dive in before making our final assessment. While this may hold true in many situations, when it comes to the world of monogramming, inscriptions and the material on which they are preserved upon, that is exactly what we are doing – judging them by their cover to establish what they stand for.

Carvings etched in stone, symbolic jewelry, intricate woven fabric patterns, vivid colors, and even music identifies territories, possessions, ethnic groups, and specific families. Traveling back through the ages, we find that ancient civilizations used art forms as a means of communication. Before literacy was commonplace; family crests, heraldic symbols and the unique woven fabrics and European tartan plaids were the forefathers of the monograms that we know today.

For centuries we see the human need to identify power, establish leadership, and to illustrate skills, ownership, and belonging. We like to document our lineage and signal who we are. It is simply human nature, the desire (or, is it really a need?) to not only transform our feelings and thoughts into something tangible, but to name it as our own.

Whether our thoughts are meant only as a private introspection, or we put pen to paper to be recognized and remembered - writing in a custom journal edifies the soul. Journaling tells your story. Perhaps, when we commit dreams and aspirations to paper and sign our name to it, we manifest our destiny.

Adding flair to your flourish


Putting the technicalities of the terminology aside, (call them monograms, initials or ciphers) they are all motivated by self-promotion. Instinctively, we all have a need to protect what we create. In 1852, the wife of Napoleon hired an entrepreneur named Louis Vuitton to provide her with custom-made cases for her extensive and expensive wardrobe. This propelled the family business into the renowned vendor of luxury products and leather goods. Highly sought after by gentry and royalty alike, the Vuitton style bag was often imitated. Louis Vuitton's son Georges developed the famous "LV" monogram in 1896 in an effort to thwart counterfeiters.

Monograms allow the origin of products and artistic creations to be instantly recognized. Rembrandt's early works were marked with a single "R", then progressed to "RH", and finally we have the highly identifiable  "RHL", as the signature for works by the famous Dutch artist.

Monograms have become a symbol of elegance. Some say that the inspiration for the interlocking "C's" that are associated with designer Coco Chanel's jewelry and fashions came from a stained glass window in the monastery she lived in as a young orphan. Others claim they are a tribute to her renowned paramour, Arthur Edward "Boy" Capel.  We may never know the story behind this iconic symbol of wealth and style, but we recognize the flair, and we know it is significant.

Flair is the reason why "John Hancock" has become synonymous with the word "signature. He signed the Declaration of Independence in a script that had such style and flourishes that it became legendary.

But, it is more than just visual style that defines monogramming - there is actually an establish protocol and etiquette. The font, the placement and the number of letters used, each detail has importance and it all matters when creating the visual representation of your lineage.

Stating your Intention

“You know how it is. You pick up a book, flip to the dedication, and find that, once again, the author has dedicated a book to someone else and not you.

Not this time.

Because we haven’t yet met/have only a glancing acquaintance/are just crazy about each other/haven’t seen each other in much too long/are in some way related/will never meet, but will, I trust, despite that, always think fondly of each other…

This one’s for you.

With you know what, and you probably know why.”

- Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

Words are powerful. The success or failure of any piece of literature can often hinge on the first few lines written. So, just what is it that makes these few words stand apart? They touch your senses. They scream for attention, they entice, and they tease.

Author Truman Capote once said, "The greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make.' A truly great novel grabs you by the jugular with its first sentence, those words – it’s music – and never lets you go."

Perhaps Capote hit the nail on the head – that first interaction between reader and author – a touching dedication to the inspiration behind the book or the first few sentences of the story itself all work to establish a connection to the reader, to spark something inside drawing them in to read more. It is the inner music woven into the words, the rhythm, the cadence, the thing that makes you makes you want to dive in deeper.

The best opening lines, inscriptions, and dedications are unusual, compelling or emotional, and some, are deeply personal.

“Ania, I love you, will you marry me?”  

- Peter Leeson, The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates


Putting Pen to Paper

“For all the storytellers and tale spinners who entertained the public and kept themselves alive, for Alexandre Dumas and Charles Dickens, for Mark Twain and Baroness Orczy and the rest, and most of all, for Scheherazade, who was the storyteller and the story told.”

Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio, Stories

Now, dedications and personalization aren’t just for published works. When starting a new journal or gifting one to a friend, inscribing your own wishes and desires for the thoughts yet to be recorded can set the tone for what those pages will be filled with. Dedications can serve as a reminder to the writer be bold, live life to the fullest, commit to recording it all honestly & with candor. Even just inscribing the author’s monogram on the front of the journal will remind them that their journal is their own living history & something to be treasured.

When thinking of encasing your story, whatever it may be, it is important to think about the pages you write upon and the quality of the material that encases it. Home journaling can lead you beyond your wildest expectations, so let the journal itself do the same. At Epica, all of our leather journals and albums are handcrafted in Florence, Italy with unparalleled attention to detail, and with the same attention to the details, we personalize them according to your preferences. We encourage you to stamp your monogram on leather that won’t diminish the mark of the author and to house your inscription on archival quality paper.  

This is Lynne’s second contribution to Epica. Her passion is writing and we love how she creates her stories. Read her other article -  From Papyrus to Parchment and our fondness for perfect writing papers. If you would like to contribute to our collection of informative blog posts, please contact us at


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