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

In the News

Scott Warnasch asnj bulletin

Archaeological Society of New Jersey’s Bulletin

I’m excited to announce that my article on the early iron coffin industry has been published in the Archaeological Society of New Jersey’s Bulletin. Please contact me if you would like a copy, or go to to get a copy of the entire journal.  ABSTRACT Fisk’s airtight, metallic burial cases were created in response […]

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Death, Burial and Egypt

image from Fisk developed his coffins at a unique period in early modern history when many traditions were being challenged, fading or replaced. By the early 1800s, American attitudes about death and burial had begun to move away from the puritanical views of the colonial period and the traditional concepts of the body, soul, […]

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New York Times: This Empty Lot Is Worth Millions. It’s Also an African-American Burial Ground.

Article by Kaya Laterman The flier advertising a near-one-acre plot of land for sale in Elmhurst, Queens, looks like a typical real estate listing. The oddly-shaped parcel that abuts the Long Island Rail Road tracks is available for $13.8 million. According to the flier, the lot is a great opportunity to capitalize on the growing demand for residential space […]

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