Gateway Object: Casket Handle Assembly Shop

Casket Assembly Shop pre-restoration


An unusual feature of the Newman Brothers’ factory it featured a whole workshop devoted to making casket handles. ‘Caskets’ are the American equivalent of coffins.

A coffin has a classic six-sided shape, widest at the shoulder and tapering to the head and feet. The lids are generally flat and are screwed down with decorative screws as well as functional screws with different kind of heads, such as ‘castle’ and ‘plume.’

A casket, on the other hand, is a four-sided rectangular box, often with a fancy raised lid, which is hinged. The handles on a casket are two long bars, running along the length of the casket, and attached with decorative brackets.

Caskets generally more expensive than coffins. We have no evidence that Newman Brothers exported to the United States, so assume the casket handles were made for the domestic market, particularly for those of Afro-Caribbean origin. Perhaps also people wanted to have a ‘Hollywood funeral’.

Read more about the evolution of the coffin in America here

View the entire collection