Saturday, January 23, 2010

Death Memorabilia, Part 2: A Memorial Card Catalog

As I mentioned in Death Memorabilia, Part 1: Memorial Cabinet Cards, a number of companies marketed memorial cabinet cards, including the National Memorial Company of Northfield, Vermont, which was established in 1876. A few years ago I was fortunate to find a copy of the company’s “Catalog and Price-List of Fine Memorial Cards”, which was published about 1897. The cover instructs “Do not Destroy or Return this Catalog – If you are not interested, give to a bereaved friend.”

The catalog depicts five designs of memorial cards and features 22 “Selections of Memorial Poetry” that can be selected for any of the cards. (I’ll be covering memorial card poetry in a future post, and will include the poems from this catalog.) The dates of death on the samples shown are all from 1896, which is why I believe this catalog was published about 1897.

“The Memorial Cards used by us differ much from those furnished by any other company, are designed by our own artists, and while elaborate in detail are strikingly neat, tasteful and appropriate. They are printed in a combination of the richest bronzes, and a mere reproduction in black gives almost no idea of the beauty of the designs.

“A heavy velvet-faced black card is used for all orders, unless a white card is desired, but all designs may be had, when specially ordered, worked on a white instead of a black ground. The white cards are of the finest finish, and we advise their use for a child’s card. Many prefer them, also, for a young lady. The price is the same as for black cards. They are very neat, and will please those of the most refined tastes.”


The catalog also includes prices and general instructions, such as information regarding references, payment in advance, and how to send money through the mail. The cost of memorial cards was: 1 card – 15 cents, 4 cards – 50 cents, 8 cards – 75 cents, 12 cards – $1.00, 25 cards – $1.75, 50 cards – $3.00, and 100 cards – $5.00.

The page titled “Special Announcements” advertises the company’s additional offerings of Catholic Prayer Cards, German and French Cards, Mourning Visiting Cards, and Memorials for Framing. The Mourning Visiting Cards were “printed in the best manner on finest quality of Bristol board with black border, and of the very latest fashionable size, sent postage paid at the following prices: 25 for 50 cents; 50 for 75 cents; 100 for $1.00”. The Memorials for Framing are described as “A very handsome Memorial for framing, size 13 X 16 inches, mailed for $1.00. Send name, date of death and age of deceased.”

Shown below is an example from my collection of National Memorial Company’s Design No. One, which memorializes William J. Thiel, who died in February 1897.

© 2010, copyright Stephen Mills

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