Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Corpse Preserver



In the Victorian era, a deceased family member was displayed in the home while the family received visitors.  This corpse preserver would be filled with ice to preserve the body until burial.  Hinged lids permitted viewers to see the departed's face and body.

Elizabeth Abbe is showing us how the corpse preserver works.  She is the Connecticut Historical Society's director of public outreach.  When Elizabeth saw me wandering through the CHS halls with my camera, she invited me to see the treasures kept in the Society's storage area.

If you have an interest in cemeteries and other similar ghoulish topics, check in at Taphophile Tragics.

25 comments:

Cezar and Léia said...

So different tradition, thanks for this great article and very interesting information!
Léia

Dave-CostaRicaDailyPhoto.com said...

I learn interesting tidbits from reading your blog, and today is no exception.

My wife's grandfather was a skilled woodworker, from pioneering stock. He built his own elaborate coffin. He did not have a place to store it, however, so it was on display in his living room for years. The newspaper even did an article about this novel home decor.

LOLfromPasa said...

How about that, Jack. Nice article.

Sharon said...

That is an interesting bit of history for sure.

PerthDailyPhoto said...

It was kind of a weird tradition, I wonder if it still happens here and there..you sure do find out some diverse facts for us Jack.

EG CameraGirl said...

Another reason I'm glad I don't live in Victorian times. :)

Tanya Breese said...

oh i've never heard of that...i knew they laid them out but i thought it was just on a couch or something. interesting and super contribution for tt!

Lowell said...

Very interesting. I didn't know that, either. That's twice this week I learned something. Very unusual.

Don't say anything.

I'd have to be careful here, though, 'cause if I walked in there someone would take one look at me and put me in the corpse preserver.

And it's really hard to get out of one of those things alive!

Kate said...

"Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more."

Sylvia K said...

Such an interesting capture -- my first thought was that it was some kind of small boat!! But my interest in cemeteries and such is somewhat lacking -- think my old age has something to do with that???? But you make a great post out of everything and I love it!!

RamblingRound said...

So glad we don't bring the deceased's loved one's body home anymore! But glad you got to photograph all this.

SRQ said...

Aha! Just as I suspected, Jack. Who with public outreach wouldn't usher the HDP Chief Photographer to the special back room to show off a corpse preserver?! Elizabeth is savvy. Well, all I can say is...that corpse preserver is rather creepy, particularly the peek-a-boo lid. No, thank you. Very interesting, though. By the way, forgot to mention, I'll be taking in a BoSox night game next month in FM should you be in the vicinity.

RedPat said...

Creepy!

Lois Evensen said...

Fascinating. I'd never seen anything like this.

We do like to visit cemeteries as we travel, especially those from the Civil War.

We also have the country's second largest (second to Arlington National) cemetery, Spring Grove Cemetery here in Cincy. It is quite an experience to visit, see the artwork, and read the stories of the people who are buried there.

Malyss said...

I've never seen such a thing before! very interesting indeed!

cieldequimper said...

Some things change, probably for the better...

VP said...

I didn't know that, quite weird indeed!

Leslie D. said...

sort of a chilling game of peek a boo

Michelle said...

Interesting! Why must we always see the face? I don't really feel compelled to see it myself.

Randy said...

I agree with Leslie.

Nicola Carpenter said...

Wow, that is truly fascinating!

Beneath Thy Feet

Jo said...

I've heard of this custom, but never seen something like this --- how cool! Thanks for sharing on Taphophile Tragics. :)

Stefan Jansson said...

Didn't know about that.

Halcyon said...

A strange looking contraption, but I guess it was necessary back in the day. I am enjoying your behind-the-scenes look!

William Kendall said...

A peculiar looking device!