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 made by Sargent and Co. in New Haven, Connecticut sometime in the 1880s. It was most likely ordered from a catalog as Sargent and Co. offered a number of casket plates in its hardware catalogs. This plate is machine made in a beveled edge shield design and silver plated with a lovely antique patina, which we chose to keep and not polish.
It is stamped with the inscription "Our Darling," and decorated with delicate morning glory vines, a symbol of tender love, affection and mortality.
This plate has been used and is stamped on the back with the maker's mark.
Date: 1880s Materials: Silver plated metal Measurements: 3" wide by 3 3/8" tall Markings: Sargent and Co. USA, New Haven, Conn. Condition: Very Good This piece is in very good condition given the age and its use. Metal has an allover patina that we chose not to clean. The text and artwork are very clear. It does have a few dents and some of the beveled edges are rolled over or flattened. These issues most likely happened when the plate was attached and then removed from the coffin. We do not see these blemishes as flaws but as a part of the history of this piece.