Monograms date as far back as Ancient Greece, where coins were monogrammed with the initials of the coins' local city and the city's rulers. During the Middle Ages, painters, craftsmen, merchants and artisans used monograms as a signature to brand their work. An article published in 1871 referred to monogramming as an epidemic.
Ancient Roman and Greek rulers monogrammed coins to distinguish the ruler of a particular area and determine where the coins had originated. Family crests, heraldic symbols and tartans were also used as monograms by European aristocracy. Monograms used as the symbol for kingdoms were imprinted on badges, armor, flags and official documents.
During the Victorian era, monograms began to be used for personal property. Monograms were sewn to personal effects so that they would not be lost while being laundered. They were also used for decorative purposes and put on objects such as mirrors, silverware and lockets. Monograms denoted status and family ties.
Louis Vuitton began using monograms in 1876, around the time that the standard look of the monogram was established. Most monograms are formed with the first initial to the left, the last initial in the middle and the middle initial to the right of the monogram. The middle initial of the monogram, which represents the last name, is generally the largest of the three letters.