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Funeral History #6

Coffins, Burial Cases, Caskets, Vaults & Outside Boxes

True or False: Early coffins were "made to order" True. The coffin maker would measure the decedent and make a coffin of an appropriate size.
What shape were early colonial coffins? In Europe and then in the early colonies, they were of octagonal shape.
What product was used to build coffins in early colonial times? Wood was used. Hardwood - stained and polished for people who could afford it, and pine (usually painted black) for people with lesser income.
When was Coffin Furniture made in America? Beginning in 1800, we began to produce our own furnishings, such as iron handles and decorations.
When was the "Westward Expansion" and what impact did it have on funeral service? This period was after the War of 1812. People had to travel greater distances to attend funerals. Bodies sometimes needed to be transported long distances, or held until family arrived.
What happened to coffins after the "Westward Expansion?" The coffins needed to be ready made to store the bodies. Coffins were given more attention to detail, style and design. Thus began the Coffin Shops, and then the Coffin Warehouses. Coffins became focal point during funerals.
What was one of the first Coffin Shops called? The John L. Dillion Coffin and Shroud Warehouse was in New York City.
When did coffin making start to become it's own profession? After the War of 1812. The coffin was being transformed into the modern-day casket.
What were the 5 goals of coffin makers? Utility, status, artistic, protection, preservation.
What was the Utility goal of coffin makers? The coffin should be more useful. The design could allow for viewing as well as burial, for instance.
What was the Status goal of coffin makers? The new burial cases were not just burial boxes, they should reflect the social position of the deceased.
What was the Artistic goal of coffin makers? The coffin should be a beautiful product, something pleasing to the eye.
What was the Protection goal of coffin makers? The coffin should protect the body from grave robbers and the environmental elements. This became increasingly important during the Civil War.
Was was the Preservation goal of coffin makers? The coffin needed to hold the body for traveling long distances.
True or False: bodies were buried and then disinterred at a later date for burial at home. True. This became possible with the invention of the metal coffins, during the Civil War.
Who was James A. Gray? In 1836, in Virginia. He took out the first American patent for a metallic coffin.
Who was John White? In 1835, in New York, he took out a patent for a coffin made of stone, marble and/or cement.
When were wrought iron coffins introduced? These were introduced in 1820.
What were coffins like in the 1860s? Coffins were made of lead or had lead lining, in an attempt to prevent grave robbing and to contain the odors.
What were Life Signals? These coffins were designed due to the fear of being buried alive. They were rigged with wires, pins, spring lids or bells, in order to react to movement inside the coffin.
What other materials were experimented with in the 1860s? Many patents were taken out for coffins made of iron, marble, clay, cement & wood combinations, glass, aluminum, pottery, wickers. One was even a Cruciform shape.
What was the Fisk Metallic Coffin? This coffin was patented in 1848. It was made of cast iron or raised steel & was air tight, for preservation. It had a glass plate over face for viewing. It was form fitting, reducing weight.
True or False: the Fisk Metallic Coffin was mass produced and readily available. True. This coffin was produced in large numbers. It was more expensive than wood coffins, so it was usually only used by the wealthy.
Who was Almond D. Fisk? He invented and patented the Fisk Metallic Burial Case.
True or False: The Fisk Metallic Coffin was also known as the Fisk Mummy Case. This is true. There were a few different names for this coffin, and this was one of them.
Were metal coffins of traditional shapes very popular? Yes they were. The manufacturers claimed they protected the body from vermin, water & seepage; allowed the body to be held for longer periods of time; serviced sanitary purposes, sealing in the germs, allowed bodies to be disinterred for reburial.
Why was reburial important during the Civil War? This allowed soldiers to be buried where they died and later be brought back home for final burial.
What improvements were made in coffins in the 1850s? The Bronzed Line was introduced. The cloth covered coffin was introduced and the Ogee design was introduced.
Who created the Ogee casket, and when did he create it? A.C. Barstow designed this coffin in 1859. It was an 'S' shaped cur e on the top of the casket. It was more decorative and cut down on the amount of material needed for each coffin.
Where does the word "Casket" come from? This comes from the French word "casse" which means 'jewel box.'
When was the word "Casket" first known to be used, in print at least? In 1862 a Crane, Breed & Co catalog displayed a picture of a burial case with the caption "the beauty in burial cases... The Casket."
True or False: There were sheet metal caskets? True, these caskets were introduced in the 1870's. They were much lighter than cast iron.
What term was used for new patents in the 1890s? Casket was the dominant word used in patents for new burial cases.
True or False: The products most commonly used today are called "Coffins." False. The correct term for the product we use today is "casket," even though the word "coffin" is often used in newspapers and on TV.
Where are coffins still available? They are still available and widely used in Europe and South America.
True or False: When first invented, Cloth Covered Cases were a more affordable choice, compared to wood or metal. False. They were made of heavy and expensive cloth, often velvet, velour, and imported cloth. They also had silk fringes and decorations.
Who was Samuel Stein, and what did he do? He owned the Stein Manufacturing Company, which mass produced cloth covered caskets. In 1890 it merged with the National Casket Company, which was still in business in the 1970s.
Who made the casket for President U.S. Grant? Samuel Stein, in 1885.
What was the casket for President Grant called? It was called the "Style E' State Casket" and it was covered in black broadcloth. It was octagonal and had a flat top with a full plate of French glass. It had an inner metal case and had hand rails.
What were the 3 main types of burial cases in the 19th Century? The three main burial cases were the Traditional Wooden Coffin, the Metallic Mummy Case, and the Cloth Covered Case.
What are burial vaults for today? Today we use burial vaults as an outer enclosure for a casket in a grave. They protect the casket and and keep graves from sinking.
What was the original use for burial vaults? These vaults were originally used to prevent grave robbing.
What were the originals grave robbers after? They were doctors, or working for doctors. They needed bodies for learning and practicing medicine and anatomy.
Truth or False: The first burial vault was called the Burial Safe and was made in 1878. True. It was essentially a large locked cage with a coffin inside. It's purpose was to prevent grave robbers.
What was the George W. Boyd Burial Case? In 1879, this was the first metal burial vault. It had ring catches to secure it closed. It was considered 'burglar proof.' Once it was sealed, it could not be broken into.
Besides metal, what materials were used to make burial vaults? Materials used were rock, stone, brick, concrete and wood.
What are the most common vaults today? Today, the most common vaults are made of concrete. They were not common until shortly after 1900.
What happened to burial vaults in 1915? Around this time, the use for burial vaults shifted from protection again grave robbers to protection from the elements.
True or False: Wood Boxes were also used to protect the casket in the grave. True. They were popular because they were easier to make, the wood was more plentiful than metal. They were also cheaper to make (and purchase) than metal.
What is the significance of the John L. Dillion Coffin and Shroud Warehouse? This was one of the first Coffin Shops. It was in New York City.
True or False: grave robbers were initially interested in the belongings that were buried with the body, such as jewels. False. Their motive was to obtain the body itself, for medical purposes.
When were burial vaults used to protect against environmental elements? In 1915, the emphasis was less on protection against graver robbers.
What was the first metal burial vault called? The George W. Boyd Burial Case; it was produced in 1879 and was considered "burglar proof."
Who was the "Style 'E' State Casket" designed for? President U.S. Grant.
Who made the Fisk Metallic Burial Case? Almond D. Fisk.
True or False: coffin making became it's own profession after the War of 1812. True. The need to have coffins readily available spurred the profession. With coffins (soon to be called caskets) being pre-made, more emphasis was being placed on design and ornamentation.
What was the Bronzed Line coffin? The Bronzed Line was introduced in the 1850's. This was a cast iron coffin with a bronze finish. It was decorated with ornaments, flowers and emblems.
Created by: kellyrb