Rock-Faced Monuments


rock-faced_monuments_by_harry_a_bliss_1919_p9In 1919, publisher Harry A. Bliss produced Rock-Faced Monuments: Illustrations and Descriptions of Some of the Best Examples of Rock-Faced Memorials. The book was published in Buffalo, New York. The book’s focus and purpose was to extoll the beauty of rock-faced memorials and gravestones—examples fill the book. Rock-faced refers to “rough-cut” gravestones and memorials that do not have a polished finish.

In the introduction to the book Bliss writes, “Because of the natural beauty of the unfinished rock, there are many people who prefer it. It expresses certain commendable qualities such as, naturalness, love of the out-of-doors, and ruggedness of character.”

One of the many examples found in the book is a photograph of an angel standing in front of a rock-faced Latin cross. The text at the bottom of page 9 reads, “An angel figure, symbolic of Peace, as used on a monument is always appropriate, but when rock face is used as a background, the smooth lines of the figure are shown to double advantage and it stands out in a manner unattainable on a smooth monument. The rustic lettering fits well with the general scheme of the memorial.”

Many variations and examples of memorials of this kind can be found in cemeteries throughout the United States.  In the example below, a lily of the valley replaces the palm leave from the example displayed in the book about rock-faced memorials.  The lily of the valley was a symbol of purity, innocence, and virginity–which makes this flower a perfect choice for wedding bouquets.  Princess Grace of Monaco and Princess Catherine (Kate Middleton) both chose lily of the valley to carry down the aisle at their weddings.

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The entire booklet can be found at the Quarries and Beyond Website:

The Quarries and Beyond Website was created by Peggy B. and Patrick Perazzo. It focuses on historic stone quarries, stone workers and companies, and related subjects such as geology. Whenever possible links of finished products are provided on the Website. There is a “Quarry Articles” section that presents articles, booklets, and links from the late 1800s to early 1900s, including the 1856 “The Marble-Workers’ Manual.” The “Cemetery Stones and Monuments” section provides references and resources, including many old monument magazines, catalogs, price lists, and a photographic tour “From Quarry to Cemetery Monuments.”

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