The Lamb and the Sea Shell




FEB. 1, 1900

FEB. 27, 1932

Gone but not


This small square-top soft white marble tablet in the Elmwood Cemetery at Charlotte, North Carolina, shows a lamb, nestled into a sea shell.  The shell is a symbol of baptism because of its obvious association to water.  In fact, a shell is often used to scoop up and sprinkle water during the baptismal ceremony. The lamb is the symbol of the Lord, the Good Shepherd. It also represents innocence; usually this motif adorns the tombstones of infants and young children. In this case that narrative does not fit because this symbol is found on the gravestone for a 32-year old.


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2 Responses to The Lamb and the Sea Shell


    Do you think that sometimes the family just selects a tomb stone that looks pretty with no idea or consideration for the symbolism of the carvings on it? As in this case? Just how do people these days pick grave stones? Are there books of samples? Do they speak with a stone cutter? And about how much do grave stones cost these days? Have you investigated this yet?

    • I think families picked out gravestones in much the same ways they do today. Monument companies sold gravestones through dealers and salespeople. Many families went to their local dealer, looked at a catalog and picked out a gravestone they liked. In some cases they ordered from the Sears catalog or other mail order catalogs. In some cases they went into a local carver and picked a “floor model”. I think in many cases the people picking out the gravestones knew the symbolism on the gravestones and in some cases might not have. But, the art, the sculpture appealed to them even if they didn’t understand the symbolic meaning. Peggy Perazzo has a site where she posts old gravestones catalogs that is really great:

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