Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Monogram categories

I recently purchased this little booklet written for young women c.1906 by Lucia Petrali Castaldi who would later (1925) become the editor of the Mani di Fata embroidery magazine and an accomplished author of many other texts.

There are 18 pages in total: four complete alphabets, four pages of examples of how to arrange monograms and ciphers, some images of other embroidery types which might compliment work with a monogram and a few words of wisdom.

I have translated a few lines below to give you an idea of the mood of the day for the young embroiderer in early 20th century Italy:

"Women and girls of good sense find it necessary to mark their linens, both personal and household, with their own initials or with their whole name.
On this point they are all in agreement: the differences begin with all the different ways to mark your linens. There are those who prefer something quick and adopt only one cursive initial - that of their last name - embroidered in Stem or Chain Stitch, when not resorting to the rapid, horrible stamping of indelible ink. They are practical women with little patience, always attracted by other treatments which do not require the measure of movements and tranquility of person. 
Some women prefer the traditional markings - on each piece - made with the no-less traditional Backstitch in red cotton: they are precise women, a bit limited, devoted to the past: they are never in a hurry and do everything the way one should.
Finally, there are women - real ladies - even if their purse is more than modest, meager, with brilliant views of educated taste.
They known to adopt, when appropriate, one or another of the various techniques and use them with finesse: although breathless from their daily tasks, they know how to find the time for so many beautiful works: beautiful not in material wealth, but in the good taste of choice and execution. 
Well prepared monograms executed with skill, with the right effects of chiaroscuro, immediately give the idea of the completely personal and innate taste of the woman who chose them."

A design for around a buttonhole on a man's shirt.

Here is the listing on the last page of other booklets by Lucia Petrali Castaldi at the time: 

You can read more about Lucia Petrali Castaldi on the Tuttoricamo website: click on the British flag for the English version then "Prominent Characters".

1 comment:

  1. I love reading these little gems. I aspire to be a 'lady of good taste' [even with limited means]. I admire those,like yourself, who keep the finer things of life alive -not just for ourselves, but for those to come. Thankyou, Maureen,Hampshire [Jane Austen Country] England.