Ivy and Oak Leaf


1843 – 1917


1853 – 1932

The Cope family gray marble gravestone in the St. Francis Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona, looks half-finished.  On one side is a column that looks like it is freshly and finely carved from a monolith of stone while the other side is and rough   It is almost as if the stone carver was half way through the job and stopped but as it happens that is not the case.  The technique used on this stone is called rock-face and is meant to be rough and have an unfinished look to it.

Ivy leaves are wrapped around the column on the right hand side of the marker with oak leaves and acorns carved at the base.  Both motifs are very common in American cemeteries.  According to an article, “Monumental Design: The Language of The Flowers,” written by Dan Haslam in the gravestone manufacturing magazine, Design Hints For Memorial Craftsman Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 2, August 1927, page 24, both symbols were popular.

“Reasons,” Haslam writes, “for such long popularity are of course gauged according to the ideas and fancies of the individual designer.  Of the numerous varied opinions or reasons which may be advanced regarding the value of the oak and ivy as memorial decorative motifs, two are outstanding; both plant forms are adaptable to many pleasing arrangements in design and are symbolic of two of the best things in life, strength and friendship.”

He goes on to add, “The Oak is representative of Firmness and Strength while the Ivy symbolizes Memory and Friendship.  From this the reader will understand why the oak and ivy are so often arranged in a single memorial design.  The sturdy oak for Father and the clinging ivy for Mother, representing impregnable friendship, devotion and lasting memory.”

The oak and ivy leaf design page was from an industry publication, The Monumental News, and provided by Peggy Perazzo who shares her vast collection of gravestone catalogs and resources at:

*  “Stone Quarries and Beyond Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StoneQuarriesAndBeyond/

*  Stone Quarries and Beyond Continues” (new web site – continuation of “Stone Quarries and Beyond”)


The Quarries and Beyond Website and Facebook page were created by Peggy B. and Patrick Perazzo. The collection 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 on the Website 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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