Tag: Zinc

  • Mary J. Owens Monument, Allegheny Cemetery

    Zinc monuments like this were cheap substitutes for stone; they were sold as “white bronze” by the monument dealers. High-class cemeteries considered them vulgar and often prohibited them outright, as apparently the Allegheny Cemetery did; but somehow some families managed to sneak them in anyway. As it turns out, they last better than the expensive marble from which many of the best monuments were made. They were constructed from interchangeable parts, so that one could choose from a huge variety of symbols, epitaphs, canned rhymes, and Bible verses to be included in the monument, and the manufacturer would oblige simply by screwing in the proper plates. Custom inscriptions were also much cheaper to make by stamping letters in standard plates than by cutting them in stone.

    Here is a particularly spledid zinc monument, nine feet tall, festooned with as many slogans and symbols as the bereaved husband could afford. In spite of a clumsy restoration attempt—never, never restore a zinc monument with concrete, the Smithsonan warns—it is overall in excellent condition after 134 years or so.

    In front are two little zinc headstones for “Mother” and “Father.”

  • Butzler Monument, Union Dale Cemetery

    Another zinc monument, imitating the forms of stone in what the monument marketers called “white bronze.” It was a cheap alternative to a stone monument of the same size, but it has actually lasted better than many stone monuments of the same age, looking almost as fresh now as it did when it was installed, probably in 1890 or shortly after.

  • Cargo Monument, Union Dale Cemetery

    This is one of the metal monuments in the Union Dale Cemetery, and Father Pitt would like to know more about them. They imitate the forms of stone in metal; are they cast replacements for original stone monuments? —An update: According to a Smithsonian article, these are made of zinc, or “white bronze” as the marketers called it, which was popular as a cheap alternative to stone or bronze for a while at the end of the nineteenth century.

    Thomas H. Cargo, a Civil War veteran, has a stanza from a favorite hymn—“Christ Will Gather In His Own,” by Nikolaus L. von Zinzendorf, translated by Catherine Winkworth—as his epitaph. The words may have been written from memory, since they differ slightly from the published version:

    Had He asked us, well we know
    We should cry, “O spare this blow!”
    Yes, with streaming tears should pray,
    “Lord, we love him, let him stay.”

    The last two lines are not from the hymn, but are a couplet that, in various versions, often appears on tombstones.

    The three young sons remembered on this side have as their epitaph a poem that appears on many children’s tombstones; it was probably once composed by some known poet, but Father Pitt has been unable to find it anywhere except as an epitaph. The exact words often vary slightly.