Monograms & Ciphers

What is the difference between a monogram and a cipher? Or, is the later “cypher”?

To the initial question, ciphers are a design comprising a person’s initials. The initials are arranged in a decorative yet illegible tangle. They are sometimes spaced out neatly for maximum readability.

On the other hand, a monogram is a design in which the initials depend upon one another for structure. Meaning, the supporting upright strokes are common to more than one initial. So, if they are pulled apart the design would fall apart. No letter would be complete

The above differences are from Monograms & Ciphers by A. A. Turbayne. It was written a long, long time ago.

There are variances and exceptions. For instance—as with so many old customs—these days, the words “monogram” and “cipher” are used interchangeably.

The examples shown are hand-drawn by Mrs. Collins. Perhaps you might like one of your own? Curious about the process? Contact Mrs. Collins directly for details.

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