Coffins – The Story





Quinns of Glasthule – Funeral Home Coffins Viewing LoungeQuinns of Glasthule – Funeral Home Coffins Viewing Area


Quinn’s of Glasthule Funeral Home offers a 24 hour operated phone line, all year round.

Here at Quinn’s of Glasthule Funeral Directors we pride ourselves on providing a personal, discreet and sympathetic service to the bereaved. We offer, 24 hours a day, private viewings to family and friends of the deceased. Quinn’s of Glasthule Funeral Home do not require any deposit payments up front. We will prepare any obituaries for publication in newspapers, on radio stations and internet sites. Quinn’s of Glasthule Funeral Home Directors also offer multi denominational services with no hidden costs.


The funeral home is available, free of charge, to the bereaved family of the deceased. If required by the family, Quinn’s of Glasthule can arrange the use of the funeral home to accommodate a prayer service or funeral ceremony/reception for friends and relatives who may be unable to be present for the Funeral Service. When speaking with our funeral director at the time of making the arrangements, please advise us of any special requirements you may need.


Coffins – The Story Behind A Legendary Term


The dead have been buried in a variety of ways over the centuries. In pre-Christian times, the body may have been naked and laid in a stone “cist”. Progressively, a desire to cover the body and prevent it coming into contact with the soil developed. The wealthy moved towards wood and even metal coffins, leaving the poor to shrouds. For a long period, the government decreed that wool be used in order to help the wool trade. The poor could have their bodies placed in the parish coffin, which was carried to the graveside, where the body was removed and lowered into the grave. The same coffin was re-used in this way for decades.


The Victorian period saw the general use of individual and privately purchased coffins, made in oak and elm and often heavily ornamented. As hardwoods became more expensive, cheaper materials superseded them.


Coffins, also known as a casket in North American English, is a funerary box used in the display and containment of deceased remains; either for burial or cremation. The word comes ultimately from Greek “kophinos”, a basket. In English, the word was not used in a funeral sense until the 1500s.


A coffin may be buried in the ground directly, placed in a burial vault or cremated. Alternatively it may be entombed above ground in a mausoleum, a chapel, a church, or in a loculus in catacombs. The handles and other ornaments (such as doves, stipple crosses, crucifix, Masonic symbols etc.) that go on the outside of a coffin are called fittings, and organizing the inside of the coffin with drapery of some kind is known as “trimming the coffin”. When a coffin is used to transport a deceased person, it can also be called a pall, a term that also refers to the cloth used to cover the coffin.


Coffins are traditionally made with six sides, tapered around the shoulders, or rectangular with four sides. Continental Europe has favoured the rectangular coffin or casket, although variations exist in size and shape. In the case of a BURIAL AT SEA, there have been instances where trunks have been pressed into use as a coffin.


Coffins are made of many materials, including steel, various types of wood, and other materials such as fiberglass. There is emerging interest in eco-friendly coffins made of purely natural materials such as bamboo, willow or Banana Leaf.


With the resurgence of cremation in the Western world, manufacturers have begun providing options for those who choose cremation. For DIRECT CREMATION a cardboard box can be used. Those who wish to have a funeral visitation (sometimes called a viewing) or a traditional funeral service will use a coffin of some sort.


First attested in English 1380, the word coffin derives from the Old French cofin, from Latin cophinus, which is the latinisation of the Greek “kophinos”. Any box used to bury the dead in is a coffin. Use of the word “casket” in this sense began as a euphemism introduced by the undertaker’s trade in North America; a “casket” was originally a box for jewelry. Receptacles for cremated and cremulated human ashes (sometimes called cremains in North America) are called urns.


The standard coffin currently used by funeral directors is made of chipboard with a good quality veneer, which effectively makes the coffin appear that it has been constructed from solid wood. The nameplate, handles and inner linings are all made of artificial materials, mainly plastic. These coffins are used for both burial and cremation. It is evident that many people perceive these coffins as composed of real wood, and the PLASTIC HANDLES as metal.
When used for cremation, chipboard coffins, MDF MOULDINGS and plastic fittings cause the majority of the small amount of pollutant emissions that arise. It must be also appreciated that the manufacture of chipboard uses formaldehyde, which is not considered to be environmentally friendly. Coffins of wood and other natural material such as bamboo and wicker are available.


The coffin is probably the most symbolic and central item of the funeral. It can be the final and most telling statement after a person has died. The choice allows for a range of caskets from the ostentatious through to the simple. The ostentatious could include a coffin crafted in the shape of a car for a motor enthusiast, or hand carved in natural wood by a joiner, or solid gold options. The bereaved choose from a selection of coffins ranging from American style caskets and ornate coffins to those made of wicker or cardboard.


Any type of coffin can be personalised to reflect personal interests e.g. gardener, fisherman or football fan. The artistic options are individual; require skills and time, all elements that are generally missing with the current funeral arrangements. A wider range of coffins is becoming apparent and is indicative of changing attitudes to the needs of the bereaved.


Other coffin options have been developed in recent years. In 1994, three manufacturers of biodegradable (cardboard) coffins arose and some funeral directors, crematoria (and potentially cemeteries) are offering these products. This move was in response to the environmental burial schemes, although these coffins were quickly utilised for traditional burial and cremation. Since 1994, many more suppliers of alternatives such as wicker and bamboo coffins have emerged. Little research has been done, although findings in Europe suggest that cardboard coffins offer a significant reduction in pollutant emissions arising from cremation. The cardboard coffin may reduce what people see as the waste of resources, due to cremating standard coffins. The introduction of a cardboard coffin immediately offered advantages of wider choice and bio-degradable benefits when used for burial. Some people labelled cardboard coffins cheap and lacking in dignity. This is a matter of one’s own opinion. The word dignity is defined as true worth and where a person has a belief in protecting the environment, or in having a humble or modest funeral, then the cardboard coffin has true worth to that person, and they should be given the choice. Added advantages are that cardboard coffins can be painted attractively, or personalised, by an artist or by the family themselves.


In modern times coffins are almost always mass-produced. Some manufacturers do not sell directly to the public, and only work with Funeral Homes. In that case, the funeral director usually sells the casket to a family for a deceased person as part of the Funeral Services offered, and in that case the price of the casket is included in the total bill for services rendered.


Some funeral homes will have a small showroom to present families with the available caskets that could be used for a deceased family member. In many modern funeral homes the showroom will consist of sample pieces that show the end pieces of each type of coffin that can be used. They also include samples of the lining and other materials. This allows funeral homes to showcase a larger number of coffin styles without the need for a larger showroom. Other types may be available from a catalogue, including decorative paint effects or printed photographs or patterns.


Contact a member of our team to discuss viewing our selection of coffins for burial or cremation.