Gateway Object: Gothic Handle

Backside of a Brown coffin handle
Frontside of brown coffin handle


This handle is sand cast and its design was in production at Newman Brothers between the 1890s and 1960s. Its reference in the Newman Brothers’ trade catalogue is Gothic N121. After Neman Brothers’ sand casting facilities had been removed from the manufactory in the early 1960s, they commissioned outside die-casting companies and hot stamping specialists to produce a range of their products for them. One such company was John Buckley Ltd, Dudley, specialists in hot stamping.

Newman Brothers were known for their variety of finishes, including their bronze lacquers. The Brown Bronze finish that we see here was achieved by mixing rouge with a small amount of chloride of platinum and water. This formed a chocolate brown solution to which water was added to make a paste. Bronze finishes were applied to the metal with a soft brush and allowed to dry. A harder brush was then applied to the object to give it a brighter finish.


The Gothic N121 handle was a favourite of royal undertakers J.H. Kenyon who used the handle on royal coffins, often in the highly burnished brass finish. This was one of the more expensive handles handle Newman Brothers offered. By the 1950s the company had reduced their stock of Gothic N121 from over 200 to around 80, by this point the handle had become the most expensive handle Newman Brothers sold.

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