“Taken as a whole, the history of the monogram embraces universal history.” 

What is its origin? Noted that Demengeot considers the origin of monogram a delicate subject because of its indeterminacy, he says that it evidently dates back to the moment when humanity possessed enough letters to start expressing their thoughts.

Demengeot presents four types of compositions: the brand, the figure, the monogram, and the anagram.

The Brand

is a composition that represents attributes of a corporation, a scientific person, artistic or industrial with an inscription or an illustration but with monogrammed letters.

example: “GASPARD, a library and printer in Paris.”



The Figure

is an interlace of the person’s initials of high/important social status.

example: “Lucas Cranch, a famous portrait painter and copper and wood engraver.”

example: Henri Goltzius, a historical painter and excellent engraver.”









The Monogram

is a reunion of multiple letters in one single character and can extend to the grouping of all the letters of someone’s name.

example: “Charles Schaller, intaglio engraver for seals, tokens and medals.”


The Anagram

is the rearrangement of letters of someone’s name or of a phrase to produce another name or phrase.

In addition, Demengeot introduces 5 main styles used for monograms: the Greco-Roman, Uncial, Gothic, Renaissance and English.


Characterized by the heavy influence of Christianity during ConstantineThe Great’s era.


With the rise of a new royale race after the revolution that put Hugues Capet in power, a new reform was put in place in terms of architectural monuments, currencies and graphics.


Characterized by lowecase alphabet and writing.




Quick review: This book is rich in a lot of historical knowledge that lead to the creation of monograms and how they were stylized back in the era. I found it very interesting to read everything and try and relate it to modern-day graphic design. Going through this book I feel more encouraged to research the origin of more graphic design elements and its evolution even before the creation of technology.


Demengeot, C. (1881). Dictionnaire du chiffre monogramme dans les styles moyen âge et renaissance, et couronnes nobiliaires universelles. Gallica.