Iron Coffin Mummy on PBS

Almond Dunbar Fisk

Almond Dunbar Fisk: The visionary inventor who took the principles and materials of steam age technology and created a new way of handling the dead which in turn revolutionized the nascent funeral industry.

Fisk Patent Mark photo by Daniel Wescott 2007*
1850 New York Daily Tribune

Almond Dunbar Fisk

Almond Dunbar Fisk was born in 1818 in upstate New York in the town of Chazy on the western shore of Lake Champlain. He began his early professional career as a stove merchant in lower Manhattan. He started work on his airtight metallic burial cases in the mid-1840s and received a patent in 1848; at which time he partnered with his father-in-law, Harvey Raymond to form the company Fisk & Raymond. After early success following the funeral of former first lady Dolley Madison, he suffered tragic losses from a fire at his foundry and died a year later in 1850 at age 32.

More information to come.

syracuse daily star archive william raymond ad iron coffin
Syracuse NY daily Star Aug 1850-Sept 1851 Brooklyn Daily Eagle

New York Daily Tribune 1843

American Institute Annual Report 1849

1842 Little Falls Mohawk Courier

1849 Daily Union
Almond Fisk’s Monument, Chazy NY
Almond Fisk Family Home – Chazy NY (Lake Champlain)

1852 Foundry Map
1852 Frank Leslie’s Weekly

*A Fisk patent metallic burial case from Western Missouri: an interdisciplinary and comprehensive effort to reconstruct the history of an early settler of Lexington, Missouri. Daniel J. Wescott et al. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences; December 2010, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 283–305

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Fisk’s iron coffins are fascinating artifacts of a time when the clash between new technology and religious tradition was creating a spiritual crisis in the young country. They’re also a great example of how the unintended effects of one invention can beget new and seemingly unrelated inventions and even new industries. Iron coffins were created […]

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