are we dead yet?

ever since I saw the original version of The Vanishing I have had a fear of waking up in a coffin, buried under several feet of earth, because some gung ho medico signed my death certificate too early. it seems I’m not alone in this fear. at the very least I’d want to be buried with a phalanx of tools to get myself out though cremation is my preferred option.

in 1843 Christian Eisenbrandt of Baltimore, patented a spring loaded coffin lid. “—-Whereas there have been instances of human beings having been buried alive, the inventor of this coffin has contrived an arrangement whereby anyone who may not really have departed this life may by the slightest motion of either the head or hand acting upon a system of springs and levers cause the instantaneous opening of the coffin lid.”

25 years later, Franz Vester of Newark patented this bell system. The nature of this invention consists in placing on the lid of the coffin, and directly over the face of the body laid therein, a square tube which extends from the coffin up through and over the surface of the grave, said tube containing a ladder and a cord, one end of the cord being placed in the hand of the person laid in the coffin and the other end of said cord being attached to a bell on the top of the square tube, so that, should a person be interred ere life is extinct, he can, on recovery to consciousness, ascend from the grave by the ladder, or if not able to ascend by said ladder, ring the bell, thereby giving an alarm and thus saving himself.”

M.C.H. Nicolle, of France, patented a somewhat bizarre coffin signal in 1899, in which a hammer is released by movement of the corpse, swinging down and breaking a glass window directly over the head, allowing air to enter the previously sealed coffin. The alarm is simply the sound of the breaking glass, since the device is used only before burial. If anyone ever did wake from a trance in one of these coffins and lift their heads, the result would appear to be a face full of broken glass followed by a blow from the falling hammer

since most of the illustrations for today’s post feature skeletons I might as well run with it

this guy also likes skulls. he posted images of a new one every day for a year and now invites reader’s submissions. a great russian site I found has some really beautiful images, hard to pick a favourite but perhaps this one which includes whorled shell shapes

and Tontenkopf make the coolest toaster ever


Published in: on July 23, 2008 at 7:42 am  Comments (27)  

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  1. Hmmm. At risk of being boringly practical somebody who was so ill that they were mistaken for dead would hardly be able to get out of a narrow coffin into a aperture over their head and climb a ladder up a long tube. Perhaps he thought one could be pronounced dedad after swooning in Woolworths due to unseaonably warm weather.

    A more practical idea would be to assume one would not last much longer anyway and just equip the coffin with a bottle of vodka and a TV screen showing a good porn film so you one go out in comfort.

  2. Dedad is deader version of dead.

  3. This is a grave subject. I don’t think I can take it all in tonight.

  4. Did you know you can make a skeleton laugh if you tickle his funny bone?

  5. This is why you need a family mausoleum. We can’t afford a proper one, so we use the attic.

  6. When I was young this was also one of my worst nightmares. Wouldn’t it be more effective these days to just bury people with a fully-charged mobile phone?

    Newest nightmare. Just watched a tv programme in which a woman went all paralysed during surgery but COULD FEEL EVERYTHING. Gotta stop watching these medical shows.

  7. the glass/hammer rig is hysterical! why not just have a big rock drop and smash the not-quite-dead-yet dude on the head and finish the job?

  8. I want that toaster!! and you’ve also reminded me that Mum’s ashes are in the airing cupboard. Must remember to take her when we move – are ashes good for tomatoes as we’ll have a garden soon?

  9. I would like to be cremated but have this fear of waking as I enter the furnace! Perhaps burial with a mobile phone – except it would be very difficult to bring it up to the eyes to see the number – and to see the “No signal” – aaaaggghhhhhhhhhhh

  10. I totally want that toaster.

  11. This was my late husband’s fear as well.

  12. I hope that my enemies each have that tube thing fitted to their coffins, so’s after they’re dead i can go and piss down the tube right into their dead, rotting face.

    That’ll teach ’em.

  13. I had a great comment in mind, a real cracker and then I read gully’s comment. So gully we’re mates right?

  14. I want to have smart bomb technology attached to my body, and I want them to drop me from an air plane at 30,000 feet into my open grave. They can attach smoke bombs to my feet, so that people can follow my progress. I like to entertain, as well as be interred.

    My actual preference is to be buried without the coffin, but that is illegal most places.

  15. Mmm. I’m rather fond of that toaster. I now understand the phrase “You’re toast!”

  16. I was buried alive by my 2 brothers and a male cousin, in a metal lined hole in the sandhill part of our garden as a young kid….. yes I share that fear… I can tell you it was not pleasant…. *shudder*

  17. 70s, that’s horrible. I would have been petrified. why did your garden have a metal lined hole? was it an old bomb shelter?

  18. Looks like the good nurse gave us some head today. And a nice toaster too. Can someone make a corset toaster that burns a nice lace-up pattern on the bread?

  19. i’ve given it some thought.
    i’m not dying.
    with the money i save by not buying a coffin,
    i can fly to hawaii and live on the beach.
    if you see me floating by,
    with my head in the water,
    pretend i’m snorkeling.

  20. Ooh! I love this post! I too am obsessed with skulls and skeletons. To me they’re kind of a universal symbol of human kind
    Whatever we’ve got on the outside, we’re all the same underneath, more or less. And what magnificent design! Good reminder of our collective mortality too. As for coffins, I aint getting in any little box dead or alive. Flames for me please. I’m a fire sign astrologically and I like the idea of purification in fire. A Salamander is a fire spirit!

  21. hey Salamander, didn’t we compare our skull obsession at rozelle market one day?

  22. Yeah I think you were wearing pink skull earrings. One me our first chats 🙂

  23. NM ~ were we grew up the garden was formerly part of the sand dunes so the top of the garden was the top of a sandhill… so the biggest, bestest sandpit to play in you could imagine. The lads dug out the hole and lined it with what ever they could lay their hands on… and enticed me in it saying it would be fun… boys hey !! lol

  24. oh my lord! and you went inside?

    I need a drink

  25. hey I was about 8 years old what could I do ???

    pour one for me 😉

  26. […] to resuscitate a sleeping beauty a few months back nursemyra wrote about coffins for those who were afraid of being buried alive. While reading A […]

  27. […] alive before at the Gimcrack. If you want to refresh your memory you can read about it here and here. Or you could just read this post […]

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