Thursday, December 27, 2012

Season of Silence


Cloister Cemetery in the Snow (1817-19)
by Caspar David Friedrich


The Old Cemetery, Hopkington, MA

South Cemetery, Boxborough, MA
Photo credit: Muffet

Pet Cemetery; Edith Wharton Estate
Photo credit: David Dashiell

Jewish Cemetery by Karina

Cemetery Père-Lachaise under the snow
Photo credit: ~Pyb

New London Road Cemetery, Chelmsford (England)
Photo credit: Kevin Faye



"I didn't see any people there any more, but the candles were still burning. 
The feeling of timelessness was very strong."

Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY
Photo credit: Michael Webster

~ fini ~

A Tisket, A Tasket - A Coffin or a Casket?

Coffins always have hinged lids, caskets have tops that 
remove completely and are screwed on after viewing.

A subcategory of taphophilia is often an additional interest in period funerary practices and accoutrements, both from the cultural and artistic viewpoint. How a culture treats it's deceased can reveal much about it's people, and no one took funerary arts into a more thoroughly romanticized and morbid period than those clever Victorians of the 19th century. From post-mortem photos to elaborate caskets and even burials where a mother could go down and sit beside her child during storms, they reached the peak of funerary arts and crafts before the onset of embalming changed many practices forever.

Recreated Victorian funeral parlor, National Museum of Funeral History. Houston, TX

On to the examples: coffins or caskets -

Victorian iron.

Victorian glass childs coffin.
One of only three surviving glass coffins, it is on display at
the Museum of American Glass in Millville, NJ.
Thanks to for this, and the following image -great finds.

One of the other surviving glass coffins, at the
National Museum of Funeral History in Houston, TX.
(Yes, in the background, you are seeing a casket built for three people.)

Copper viewing casket. Age unknown.

Viewing casket, 19th c.

Body basket.
Research has determined that these were most often used by undertakers to transport a body from the place of death to the funeral home. Typically they have wooden bottoms and canvas handles, and were made in various sizes, from infant to adult.
There are sketchy reports that they were occasionally used for viewing, but I have been unable to substantiate this, and it seems unlikely for several reasons; not the least being rapid body decomposition in their time.

Victorian, wooden, hinged viewing window, on wheeled trolley.

Closeup of viewing window.

Elaborate Victorian drop-down viewing coffin.


Left: 19th c. iron casket with hinged viewing faceplate.
Right: 19th c. wooden casket with viewing window.
These caskets were generally custom ordered and fitted to the occupant,
and also sometimes filled with alcohol to preserve the remains
possibly this aided in transports over distance, etc; see The Lady In Red.

Mahogany, unlined child's coffin (never used), c. 1900.
Donated to the Wood County Historical Center.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"..Nor the demons down under the sea.."

"And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee."

 Milan's Monumentale Cemetery

Memorial To A Marriage by sculptor Patricia Cronin
Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY
- all images above found on Pinterest, Gardens and Cemeteries board
and are the property of their respective photographers.


An Etruscan Sarcophagus from the Late Classical or Early 
Hellenistic Period (350-300 BC) found in Vulci, Lazio Italy.

Thomas de Beauchamp and Katherine Mortimer his wife, Earl & Countess of Warwick.
St. Mary's, Warwick. Wikipedia Commons image.

The clasped hands of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset KG (+1444)
and Margaret, Duchess of Somerset (+1482) Wimborne Minster. Tomb abt.1450

Richard Fitzalan III, 13th Earl of Arundel (ca 1307-1376) and his second wife Eleanor.
In his will Richard requested that he be buried “near to the tomb of Eleanor de Lancaster, my wife; 
and I desire that my tomb be no higher than hers, that no men at arms, horses, hearse, or other pomp, 
be used at my funeral, but only five torches…as was about the corpse of my wife, be allowed.”

The wife was Catholic and the man Protestant; at that time they 
weren't allowed to be buried together."  Location unknown; Europe.


Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Rochester, NY

The Children

Nothing touches people as a child's grave can. Innocence ended; a life barely begun, the joy and promise inherent in a child suddenly gone. The Victorian/Edwardian era brought children's memorials to a level not seen before, but we sometimes still see similar in modern times.

Victorian American Children’s Culture
Scholars from many fields have studied aspects of the history of childhood. While there is little consensus on an overarching theory of childhood, those who focus on late-nineteenth-century Anglo-America agree that it was an era in which an ideal of childhood arose that stressed the natural innocence and joyfulness of children, their right to a labor-free childhood, and the responsibility of adults and the state to protect children’s dependency. The new field of pediatrics, a movement to provide infants with safe milk, compulsory education, kindergartens, societies for the prevention of cruelty to children, child labor laws, a new body of literature for children’s entertainment, and a large class of objects catering to children’s perceived needs all document the new positioning of children as the hub around which the upper- and middle-class American home revolved in the late nineteenth century. Vivianna Zelizer identifies this as an era of “profound transformation in the economic and sentimental value of children.”
The Baby-in-a-Half-Shell: A Case Study in Child Memorial Art of the Late Nineteenth Century
by Annette Stott

The above photograph is all over the internet, and I've been unable to determine the photographer or location. The following photos are hotlinked to their sources; and are the result of a stroll through Pinterest, unless otherwise noted.


Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Boston MA

 Forest Home, the German Waldheim Cemetery, Chicago


 Paris Cimetiere du Montparnasse

 J.B. Sarpy Morrison, Died 1876 andJulia Olivia Morrison, Died 1870
Calvary Cemetery, Missouri

 Detail of Julia's memorial

Chippiannock cemetery, Rock Island, IL

Francis Bentley Craw, Lakeview Cemetery, 1847

Crystal Springs Cemetery, Copiah County, Mississippi
Tapho note: The shell motif stones were mail order,
customizable to degrees dependent upon one's wallet.


"..a few of my favorite things..."

 "The little girl waiting for her mother" By Ferdinando Marchetti
Viareggio (Lucca) - Monumental Cemetery

This amazing and haunting photo is the work of Isabelle Cooper,
who graciously allowed us to share it with you. -Taph

 Baby memorial garden, London Rd., Coventry, England

Southern USA



"A daughter, a sister
A painter of rainbows"

"Natchez - 10 yr old Florence died in 1871. She was extremely frightened of storms and her grief-stricken mother had Florence's casket constructed with a glass window at the head. The grave was dug to provide an area, the same depth of the coffin, at the child’s head, but this area had steps that would allow the mother to descend to her daughter’s level so she could comfort her during storms. To shelter the mother, metal trap doors were installed over the area the mother would occupy."
After the mother's death, the glass window was cemented over to prevent vandalism, but you can still go down the steps to where the mother sat.

Iowa City

"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal."
- from a headstone in Ireland