The latest additions to the coffin screw collection
I obsessively stalk ebay for coffin screws. Well, funerary items in general. There are a few Holy Grail items, several of them coffin plaques (such as the Sad Hour) that I am incomplete without. But there’s something about coffin screws that makes the dark crevices of my brain tingle.
In the Victorian era, coffin screws represented the last act before committing the dearly departed to the dirt. Short of the actual burial, there is nothing more final than manually screwing down the lid and sealing the deceased inside a wooden box.
This is not a practice used in modern funerals, of course, except in at least one culture – the Maori of New Zealand.
“We used similar screws to secure the lid on my fathers coffin in 2014,” one commenter wrote in response to my post about the history of coffin screws. “On the day of the funeral we placed the lid on the coffin and we all helped screw down the lid. This is very common practice in the New Zealand Maori culture which my brother in law is and we accepted it as quite normal.”
Interestingly, that comment and post were referenced in an ebay listing for coffin screws. So that makes me something of an authority on funerary hardware, right? An authority on an obscure niche that no one is interested in…but it’s better than nothing. I’ll take it. Even if I’m really just an obsessed collector with little actual knowledge on the subject.
I stumbled onto that listing recently while on the usual hunt for coffin screws, which resulted in the new additions pictured above. Here’s some of the other coffin hardware in the collection:
Cast iron coffin screws from Australia
Victorian era silver plated coffin screws and escutcheons
Coffin screws from Stolts, Russel & Co. c.1880
I’ve got my eye on a few more right now. Stay tuned.