Coffin furniture pattern book, circa 1823?
- Coffin furniture pattern book.
- England, circa 1823?
- Physical Description:
- 1 v. (41 folding plates) : ill. ; 25 cm.
- Rare Books and ManuscriptsNK3665 .C64 1823+ OversizeYale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon FundAccessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
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- Copyright Status:
- Copyright Information
- Archives & Manuscripts
- By the early 19th century, Birmingham had supplanted London as the center of British coffin furniture production. Coffin embellishments could include central depositum plates (or breast plates), grips, upholstery pins (or nails), and escutcheons for side decoration. Elements were commonly stamped in tinned iron by a large screw press, and could be finished in gilt copper, bronze, brass, silver, white, black, or colors. See: Litten, Julian. The English way of death. London: Robert Hale, 1991 (pp. 106-112). See also: Aitken, W.C. The early history of brass and the brass manufactures of Birmingham. Birmingham: M. Billing an Co., 1866 (pp. 193-197).
Engraved pattern book of coffin furniture designs by an unidentified manufacturer, together with 16 coffin "lace" samples. The first engraved leaf contains the only lettering sample and reads: "LD 1823 aged years", which may hint to the identity of the artist (LD) and an approximate date. All patterns are printed on thin wove paper, with no watermark. No design is signed or dated. All have a catalog number, and pricing information written in manuscript. Designs range in size from about 18 x 15 cm to 65 x 40 cm; all leaves are folded to fit the smaller dimensions of the volume.
Most leaves bear a single full-page design of an ornate depositum plate. These are frequently shield-shaped or oval-shaped, and are almost always surrounded by classical embellishments of drapery and vines, or other foliage. Many incorporate winged cherubs' heads or angels with trumpets and include a crown at top bearing the words "Gloria Deo" or "Glory to God". A smaller number include urns or skulls. Plates at the end illustrate separate design elements, in various sizes, including Christ on the cross, angels, flower pots, cherubs' heads, "rings & loops", and stars.
Each design is annotated, in pen and brown ink, with information on the cost of the design in white, brass, or colors. "White" refers to tin-dipped stamped iron; "colors" (most frequently selected for children's coffins) to tin-dipped stamped iron, painted matte white and highlighted with water-gilding (cf. Litten). Some of the annotations also include information on matching coffin handles (or grips) and their prices.
Insides of the upper and lower boards are affixed with 16 samples of coffin "lace", bands of tin-dipped stamped iron in assorted decorative patterns, for outlining the lid, sides, and ends of a coffin (cf. Litten). The lace samples are shown in silver, black, and brass (or gilt). Catalog numbers and prices are noted in ms next to each sample.
Bound in contemporary quarter roan and marbled boards.
- Subject Terms:
- Coffin industry -- England.Coffins -- England.Commercial catalogs -- England.Death care industry.Decoration and ornament -- Catalogs -- England.Funeral rites and ceremonies -- England.Metal-work -- England -- Catalogs.Pattern books -- England.
- Trade catalogs.
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