The Rival

Much has been written and documented about the zinc markers produced by the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut.  Though the company billed their markers as “white bronze” they were actually cast zinc.  The markers are distinguishable by their bluish-gray tint and easily identifiable. The company set up their first subsidiary in Detroit, Michigan. Others followed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, St. Thomas, Ontario, Des Moines, and Chicago. Enterprising salesmen carried a catalog door-to-door with them to show customers the many styles and price ranges of the product line. In many cemeteries you can find evidence of highly successful salesmen who sold large numbers of the markers. These grave markers came in a wide assortment of sizes and shapes and were somewhat like grave marker erector sets. The more elaborate markers had a shell of sorts and then various panels could be bolted on according to the tastes of the family ordering the grave marker. In this way, each marker could be “customized” to the tastes of the individual.  The company began manufacturing in the 1870s until the company closed shop in 1912.

There was another company producing zinc markers, as well.  The White Monument Company of Warsaw, Missouri.  According to The History of Benton County, Missouri: Volume 3—The People, written and complied by Kathleen Kelly White and Kathleen White Miles, 1971, page 459, “Behind his furniture store was the Monument Works operated…by Mr. Mahlon White. The plant manufactured monuments or tombstones from zinc and finished [them] in a dull satin finish by sandblasting the smooth metal.”  The company held two patents issued to Thomas Benton White.  The first patent, issued on December 2, 1901 (No. 688,043) described how the markers were to be constructed, “The structure embodies an outer metallic casing combined with an inner metallic casing or core with an interposed filling and means for permitting a circulation of air for the purpose of equalizing the temperature and for allowing for expansion or contraction of the metallic parts without danger or fracture.”  The space between the outer core of zinc and the inner core of zinc had a composite filling to give the structure stability.

The second patent, also issued to Thomas Benton White (patent no. 695,774 March 18, 1902) was for an unique and inventive way to display a image and/or obituary of the deceased, “An inscription-frame for monuments and the like, comprising a continuous internal bead, a door enclosed by the frame at one side of the bead, an inscription-holder enclosed by the frame at the opposite side of the bead consisting of transparent parallel plates, a weatherproof binder-strip uniting all of the edges of said plates, a cushion of metal fiber surrounding the edges of the holder, a layer of flexible cement arranged next to the cushion and serving to enclose the same, and a seal of weatherproof cement covering the flexible cement.

The name plates were affixed to the markers with a cement.  These zinc markers manufactured by the White Monument Company produced several different models, several of which can be seen in the Warsaw City Cemetery and other cemeteries in central Missouri.  Four have been spotted in the country West Haven Cemetery outside Washington, Iowa, and some as far away as Colorado.  These zinc markers, often referred to as “zincies” by cemetery aficionados, mimicked designs that were commonly found carved from stone.

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4 Responses to The Rival

  1. gsb03632 says:

    Thanks for this … I’ve never seen one of these. In your first figure, in the figure showing the little door held open, is that by a twig or by a little leg built into the monument?

  2. Mary R Gilbert says:

    Thanks for all of your research!!!
    What cemetery is this particular marker located?

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