A varsity letter (or monogram) is an award earned in the United States for excellence in school activities. A varsity letter signifies that its winner was a qualified varsity team member, awarded after a certain standard was met.
1 Description 2 History 3 Variations and application 4 See also 5 References
The award letter is usually made in the colors and initials
representing the school that the recipient attends. The letter patch
is primarily constructed of chenille and felt materials. Standard
sizes range from 4 inches (102 mm) to 8 inches (203 mm).
While 4 inches (102 mm) and 5 inches (127 mm) usually denote
Junior Varsity achievements, 6 inches (152 mm) to 8 inches
(203 mm) would denote full (Senior) Varsity. The stitching style
used for creating the chenille look is called a moss stitch, while the
outlining sew down is called a chain stitch.
With the advent of organized sports, there was a need for uniforms.
There was an additional need for identifications which was satisfied
by the use of emblems or letters.
In 1865, the Harvard baseball team added an Old English 'H'. The 'H'
was embroidered on the gray flannel shirt. The football team started
to use the 'H' in 1875. For 25 years following the introduction in
1865 of the letter, it was the practice for the team captain to allow
certain players who played in the most important games (Yale or
Princeton) to keep the 'H' jerseys as an award. If a player did not
play in an important game, the player had to return the jersey at the
end of the season. Awarding the 'H' jersey may have been the birth of
the varsity letter as an award. The letterman sweater was first
regularly used by the 1891 "Nine" (baseball) and was black with a
small Crimson 'H' on the left breast.
It is not known when the letter sweater came to high schools. The
earliest known example of a letter sweater in a high school is found
in the 1911 yearbook of Phoenix Union High School, Arizona
Territory. A student in a group photo is pictured,
not in football uniform, wearing a
Two-letter monogram with embroidered academic insert
Chenille bordered letter with embroidered mascot and sport inserts
Letter with 3D shading
Traditional block letter with embroidered mascot
The chenille letter is traditionally placed on the left chest of the varsity jacket, which is also at times adorned with championship chenille patches showcasing the team or individual accomplishments. School mascot patches are also commonly used. During the 1980s, and again in the 2010s, varsity jackets have been adopted into hip-hop fashion, with companies such as Avirex, Phat Farm and Rocawear making their own variations. See also
Letterman (sports) Sporting colours
^ "History of the Letter Award Tradition". Archived from the original on October 17, 2009. ^ Varsity jackets