As odd as it may seem, there are indeed antique coffins available today. Now you’re probably thinking, but how can that be since these are supposed to be used for burying dead people? Although antique coffins are quite rare—which accounts for their commanding price tags—these are usually the ones that were unsold and then kept in storage and ultimately forgotten by the funeral homes that carried them.
Antique Coffins versus Wicker Coffins
A lot of collectors also confuse antique coffins with the wicker carrying baskets that were used in the 1800s to transport the dead from their homes to the funeral home. Such an elaborate piece made from solid wood would certainly not have been a practical choice to carry someone around in because the weight would have made it too much of an arduous task. The handles and nameplates attached to antique coffins were all sold separately as well so that the family would be able to customize it.
Where to Find Antique Coffins
If you thought the very existence of antique coffins was strange enough, wait until you hear the best place to find them. Surprisingly (or perhaps not all that surprising), these items can be easily found through Ebay. Yes, Ebay—the international auction site. Because the people who discovered these valuable artifacts know that they will be able to reach a wider market by offering their items on sale through Ebay, this makes sense. The downside for buyers is that shipping costs can be deadly; and if you’re shipping internationally, be aware that some countries will not allow entry to these types of packages so be sure to check the customs rules first before putting in a bid for that super rare Victorian piece. If you want to go the local route, be sure to be on the lookout for estate sales as well as clearance sales from funeral homes. You might be able to score a genuine antique coffin with pure silver handles and embellishments (yes, they were quite extravagant in the old days) if you’re lucky.
Making Your Own Antique Coffins
If you can’t afford to buy a real antique coffin (prices can go up to as much as $10,000) but love the look, you can try making one for yourself. You don’t have to be super handy with tools since you don’t really have to build the coffin from scratch. You can purchase an inexpensive one from a funeral parlor near you and you can “age” it using paints and varnishes as alternating overlays. Putting distress marks with the use of some tools (subtle dents and scratches) will also give it a more authentic look. You can get the metal trimmings to look antique by using two types of metal paint (one light and one dark). The lighter tone is the one that will be used to cover the entire surface while the darker tone will be used as an accent to create the illusion of discoloration and give it an aged look.