Monument Catalogues

By the late nineteenth century, cemetery monuments were an industry rather than a craft. Catalogs of standard designs were printed by the makers, and you could order a monument from Sears the same way you ordered a washing machine. Here are a few of those catalogs that have been preserved on line; you may find exactly the design of one of your ancestors’ monuments.

American Bronze Company (no date, but an endorsement inside is dated 1888). Purveyors of “white bronze”; you will notice that the word “zinc” is never mentioned. “It is cast from a refined, non-corrosive metal,” the catalog tells us in “Some Interesting Facts About White Bronze,” but the name of that metal is apparently not appealing enough to mention. This catalogue includes an engraving of an entire zinc mausoleum (or “burial vault,” as the catalogue calls it), which Father Pitt would love to see in person; he has not found any pictures of extant zinc mausoleums on line.

Monumental Bronze Company (dated by the librarian to 1882). Another purveyor of “white bronze,” though this company quite clearly states that “white bronze” is zinc and goes on to explain that zinc is a “pure metal,” like gold, silver, or copper. This catalogue is a treasury of cemetery symbolism, with pages of standard “Bas Relief Emblems” (the term always appears in quotation marks) that can be screwed into the appropriate spaces on your monument.

Catalogue of Monuments from John H. Burroughs, Rogersville, Pa. —This is probably a manufacturer’s catalogue, with the title page and front matter missing. Dated 1888 by the librarian.

Out-of-Door Memorials, Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company, 1898. Celtic crosses were very fashionable this year.

The Craig & Richards Granite Co., Quincy, Mass.: Memorials in Quincy Granite. Dated 1900 by the librarian. “The examples shown have been closely studied and embody correct principles.”

East Waverly Steam Granite Works: Modern Monuments and Where to Buy Them. Dated 1900 by the librarian. Obviously concentrates on granite, though marble is also handled.

Columbus Marble Works: Quality Monuments. c. 1900.

Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Co., New Orleans. c. 1900. Magnificent mausoleums, etc.

Sears Roebuck & Co. Tombstones and Monuments, 1903. Monuments in various grades of stone. Many styles, from small obelisks to rustic stumps.

Presbry-Leland Memorials, 1932. Some of the mausoleums and memorials pictured here can be found in Pittsburgh cemeteries.