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Metal Caskets

From The Sidelines to a Full Fledge Industry

Metal Caskets, as an industry, did not develop in the United States until the 1800’s. Prior to this time, local funeral directors, then known as undertakers, typically operated the town furniture store and, in addition, built metal caskets on an as-needed basis. By the late 1800’s, metal casket manufacturing developed as a distinct business and the manufacturers devoted their efforts to the production and sale of metal caskets. Generally, metal casket manufacturers operated in local and regional markets until well into the 20th century.

Metal caskets have long been the preferred choice for many familiesProducts provided by the early industry included cloth covered caskets, hardwood caskets and metal caskets (some with inner liners and “glass sealing” mechanisms). By the early 1950’s, it is estimated that there were more than 700 manufacturers of metal caskets with more than 20,000 employees in the United States. The 1950s saw changes in the industry. After the Korean War, sheet steel became available to industry manufacturers and metal casket production grew. By the mid 1950s, metal caskets comprised more than one-third of industry production and, by 1960, just under one-half of the market. By the mid to late 1970s, nearly two-thirds of all caskets produced were metal caskets.

Metal caskets come in a wide variety of materials, designs and costs. The type of metal casket s selected will determine their value and cost. Generally, metal casket prices range from least to most expensive according in these types:

Non-gasketed Steel Metal Caskets are normally made of 20-gauge steel (some companies are experimenting with 22-gauge steel). Twenty-gauge steel is the same thickness used in many automobile body panels. These caskets may be spot-welded. They are usually the least expensive metal caskets available and are usually square-cornered designs. Some non-gasketed steel caskets include interior coatings.

Stainless steel metal caskets are most often square-cornered or square cornered urn designs. New products designs developed in the 1990’s include round-cornered and round cornered urn stainless Metal caskets often provide families with great peace of mindsteel casket designs. Stainless steel metal caskets often are comparable in price to midrange hardwood caskets and bridge the price brackets between cold-rolled steel caskets and semiprecious metal products such as copper or bronze. Stainless steel metal caskets have become increasingly popular in the 1990’s and now are purchased more frequently than copper or bronze caskets.

Copper or Bronze Metal Caskets may be found in square-cornered, round-cornered or urn shaped designs. Rather than gauge, copper and bronze metal caskets are measured by weight. A 32-oz. copper or bronze metal casket means that the copper or bronze used weighed 32-oz. per square foot. There are also 48-oz. copper or bronze metal caskets.

Many manufacturers offer a warranty on the structural integrity of the metal casket. Consumers should keep in mind, however, that no metal caskets will preserve the body regardless of whether the metal caskets are sealed, or if the deceased was embalmed beforehand. In some cases, a sealed coffin may actually speed up rather than slow down the process of decomposition.

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