Gateway Object: Catholic Backplate

Silver coloured backplate featuring small sacred red heart at top centre
Catalogue page showing four catholic handle plates and cast grips


This backplate is ‘tin-dipped’, this means nickel-plated tin. Tin was one of the cheaper materials used at Newman Brothers. This backplate would have been paired with a matching RIP handle. The backplate first appears in the Newman Brothers’ 1960s’ catalogue.


Coffin furniture featuring the Sacred Heart symbol first came into production at Newman Brothers around the 1920s. Coinciding with the canonisation of French nun, Sister Mary Margaret Alacoque in May 1920, who promoted devotion to the sacred heart. Sister Mary was especially popular among Irish Catholics, and it would appear that Newman Brothers were responding to the market, so to speak, in an effort to manufacture products that people wanted. Birmingham had one of the largest populations of Irish Catholics, and the Catholic funeral made up a significant market for any funeral director. Newman Brothers capitalised on this by offering a wide range of Catholic furniture, and selling it in both England and Ireland.

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