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A heartbreaking, yet beautiful memento of a life cut short, coffin plates of dearly departed loved ones were often kept and displayed on parlor fireplace mantles and tables during the Victorian era.
The practice of using coffin plates began in the 17th century and was primarily reserved for those of extreme wealth. By the 19th century, the use of coffin plates began to gain popularity in North America.
Early plates were made by hand by a blacksmith or metalworker and varied in size, metal and ornateness depending on the financial resources a family had. They were traditionally made of a soft metal like lead, pewter, silver, brass, copper or tin.
In the late 1840s, the first machine stamped plates appeared, which allowed the plaques to be cut into elaborate shapes and stamped with intricate designs and details, like the one you see here. By the 1860s, mass produced coffin plates could be ordered from a number of catalogs at a price point every family could afford.
The practice of using coffin plates peaked between 1880 and 1899 before falling out of favor. It was also during this time that the practice of removing casket plates prior to interment became popular.
This striking casket plaque was created in the 1890s. It is machine made in a heavier material -- most likely pewter or lead -- and has a domed top and a beautiful repoussé floral border. It is silver plated with a lovely antique patina, which we chose to keep and not polish.
What makes this plate a little special is that it has a raised inscription, rather than the more common stamped or engraved inscription. It adds just the right amount of somber texture.
This plate has been used.
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