This curious collection of items have a common thread…the Funerary Business. While this may seem morbid to some, there are many who are fascinated with the art & skill that goes into areas like embalming or tomb decoration.
Here we have a cast aluminum, “Tomb Frame” – used to frame a name plate or similar item onto a family tomb (this one was removed when an newer – likely larger – frame replaced it). It may also have been used for a wall sconce; when someone’s remains (usually cremated) are “ensconced” in the wall of a Church or a crematory wall.
Also in the collection are a pair of “Funeral Fans” from the early 1900’s. These heavy paper fans served a dual purpose – the obvious one, keeping mourners cool during warmer days…less obvious, to cover a mourner’s face; hiding grief & tears from others. They were often a memento of sorts, sometimes inscribed with a picture and date of the deceased (similar to a more modern tradition of “bookmark memorials”). One fan was printed specifically for the Marley Funeral Home in New York and has a rather sombre picture of a chapel on the front. The other boasts a charming drawing of a Woman in the height of “modern” fashion – with her automobile goggles and wide brimmed hat held on with a scarf! The reverse features an advertisement for the T. Eaton Co. Ltd. (Toronto & Winnipeg) – and coincidentally is marked © 1907, the year that Timothy Eaton, founder of the Department Store, died. Perhaps this was printed specifically for Mr. Eaton’s funeral?
Finally we have two odd little boxes…each containing 2 Dozen, child sized, “Eye Caps”. One set are Morgan Brand (Patent Pending) form Eureka Fluid Works (San Francisco, California). The other are Perfection brand made for H.S. Eckels & Co. (San Francisco, Philadelphia, Toronto). What exactly are “Eye Caps”, you ask? Thin, convex, plastic discs – the shape of an eye – with a textured outer surface…placed directly on the eye (like a contact lens) to keep the eyelids of the deceased closed.