07 November 2007

Undertakers, Coffins, & Furniture

The casket industry originated in the United States in the 1800s. The city funeral director, known as the undertaker, usually operated a furniture store in addition to selling caskets. Here are a few examples of advertisements and articles from the Atlanta Constitution newspaper of Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1873, Charles Bohnefeld is advertising that he sells "all classes and grades of coffins and metallic burial cases," is in the business of funeral undertaker, and has a furniture repair shop connected to his coffin storeroom.

In addition to "the best assortment of coffins, burial cases, and caskets," C. Bohnefeld will make and repair furniture to order in 1877.

Also in 1877, Frank X. Bliley, an Atlanta city funeral undertaker, explained his services:
HAVING resumed the business of Undertaking I thought it proper to let you know where to find me, in case of need... I have a full stock of Oriental and American styles of Metallic Burial Cases and Caskets, Emblems and Insignias for Orders and Societies decorating purposes, and in fact everything belonging to a first class Undertaking Establishment, and in greater variety than heretofore kept in any house in the south. I have also imported that Magnificent Oriental Balm, called the Egyptian Balm, which, as the Paris University says, is the best and Absolute Deodorizing, Disinfecting, Discoloring, Beautifying Embalming preperation in the World... Hearses and Mourners Carriages always ready on call at the most reasonable rates... Pianos re-polished and all kinds of Musical Instruments Repaired and guaranteed... Fine Gilt-Edge Furniture, made to order.
(For a complete transcription of the article, click here.)

In 1882, Charles Bohnefeld re-enters the undertaking business in Atlanta and has this to offer:
Mr. Bohnefeld will keep on hand one of the very best assortment of coffins, burial cases and caskets, and will supply the demand at the very lowest rates. All orders will receive prompt and personal supervision. Hearses of any style desired, and carriages in any number will be furnished at satisfactory rates. In the cabinet department every description of furniture will be made or repaired. Fine furniture will be repaired in an especially excellent manner.
(For a complete transcription of the article, click here.)


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