Posts Tagged ‘zinker’

On a trip to south central Pennsylvania to visit my family, I noticed that there were zinkers in the Silver Spring Presbyterian churchyard. As fascinated as I am with this type of monument, I had never noticed this well-preserved pair of monuments before.

Parker Sarah and Williams (1)//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Parker Sarah and Williams (1)//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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Those of you who have been reading for a while are aware of my affection for zinc monuments, or zinkers. While they were being sold, they were marketed as “white brass,” but, really, they’re zinc. Weather and age give them a unique patina that ranges from gray to a pale blue, depending on how the light is hitting it. They aren’t terribly common, but most cemeteries that date from the later 19th or early 20th centuries have at least one. Once you locate one, you will never mistake that look for anything else.

Gallup (2)

Gallup (3)

Gallup (4)

Gallup (5)

Gallup (7)

I found this one at Strongsville Cemetery. I like the way that the monuments ape the symbolism and style of the more expensive cemetery monuments of the day but have the interchangeable base panels to be able to add the names and information for more family members as time passes.

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I think that the epitaph on the Eckert monument in Woodland Cemetery can pretty accurately be referred to as a memento mori. “Memento mori” means remember death, but it is also the name conferred upon items that are meant to remind you of the fact that you are mortal and will die. The purpose of a memento mori is to keep that knowledge close so that you will live your life with that in mind. The Eckert epitaph cautions us that death is inevitable and can swoop down at any moment, without warning.


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Time for one of my favorite features – the zinkers I discovered at a new cemetery. The Philbins erected this monument to their son Michael, who lived until just past his first birthday. The zinker has lots of room for symbolism, as there is only the panel for the little boy. It includes a chain with a broken link to symbolize death as well as a dove and anchor for hope.

Philbin (3)

Philbin (2)


The Wood monument remembers William, Jennie and Mary. Based on the ages and death dates, I would guess that William is Jennie and Mary’s father. There is also a little zinker lamb for a Minnie that doesn’t seem to appear on the main monument.

Wood (2)

Wood (5)

Wood (8)

Wood (6)

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Fountain Cemetery in Fostoria had at least seven zinkers that I spotted while I was on my visit there – that puts it in the lead in the tally. The day was unbearably hot and the cemetery has limited shade in the old sections, so I only got photos of three, and there could have been some that I missed.

The Snaveleys have a small obelisk-style monument.

Snaveley (3)

Snaveley (2)

Grace and Mary Nelson (who I am guessing might have been half-sisters, based on the fact that they have the same father and two different mothers listed) have a monument with a book on pedestal.

Nelson (2)

The Helfer monument is in another shape that I’m not quite sure of the correct word for.


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I was in Gettysburg to go to the Boyd’s Bears store before it completely closes.  On the way back, we needed to stop for a bite to eat, so I drove through the town of Gettysburg rather than around it on the highway.  As we were passing the old visitor center, I spotted a marker with a distinctive blue-gray dull finish.

“That’s a zinker!”  We pulled into a parking lot to do another swing by the monument and confirm that it wasn’t a trick of the light.

I have lost count of the number of times I have gone to Gettysburg.  I have driven in and out of the old visitor’s center parking lot dozens of times, and yet, right by the one entrance, I had never noticed a rather short little zinker, even after I started seriously reading about monuments.  I pulled into the empty parking lot for General Pickett’s Buffet, which is the way I would recommend locating this marker if you want to – it is on the corner at the entrance to the old visitor’s center directly across from General Pickett’s Buffet on Steinwehr Avenue.


I had read on some of the websites about the Monumental Bronze Company that, in addition to grave markers, they also had created some cities’ Civil War monuments, but I had never seen one.  And here in front of me was a zinker, about 8 feet high from my own current home state of Ohio.  Instead of names and birth and death years for the deceased, the rectangular plaques at the base of the obelisk displayed details of the unit’s participation in the battle.  War imagery like the  symbol of the Second Corps and a cartridge box replaced funerary symbols.  The flank markers, approximating the right and left terminals of the unit’s position, were also zinkers.


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It’s been a while since I’ve posted photos of any new zinkers. As you may remember, zinkers are memorials made of zinc, or “white bronze,” in the marketing lingo of the Monumental Bronze Company. They were in full operation from 1874 to 1914, and continued to produce panels for existing monuments until the 1930s.



The monuments were sold by local salesmen through a catalogue and then shipped from Connecticut, so most cemeteries that have one zinker have two or three. Chester Township, as you can see, is no exception.



This last one seems to be surrounded by now-buried individual markers for family members. I found the corner of one showing through the dirt.


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My friend Nico send me this article today. Customs officials at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport discovered 52 pounds of marijuana packed inside a concrete shell when they x-rayed a tombstone being shipped by DHL.

The customs officials were surprised, but I found it an interesting coincidence. Zinkers, which I have shown before, are hollow markers. You can see that this one at Woodland Cemetery has been damaged and is bulging slightly.


A lot of people will tell you that the hollow zinkers were used during Prohibition by bootleggers to conceal alcohol.

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I’m not quite sure what this monument is. The shape, size, and design resemble other zinkers I have seen, but the coloring doesn’t match them. It has the decorative screwheads that confirm the sides have removable panels but it lacks that bluish gray patina that makes zinkers so easy to spot from a distance and instead has a shiny, reflective metal finish. I’ll update you if I figure this one out.



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What I find so interesting about these zinc monuments is their distribution. According to the research I have done on the company, they had salesmen all across the country who attempted to persuade people to order the monuments from the options in the catalog. Then they submitted the order and the monument was made in Connecticut and shipped. But I haven’t seen enough zinkers in one geographic area to think that a salesman could make a living. Did they have very large sales areas, or was it not really a full time job? Or was the Cleveland area salesman just not very good?

The Adams Street Cemetery in Berea has two zinkers still standing:
Hulet Monument

At Rest

I can only guess that this one not ordered immediately, as Lewis’ and his mother’s death dates do not match, but their information is cast right into the monument, not on a removeable panel.

Brown Monument

I didn’t recongize this for what it was at the time I took the photograph, but I did take a shot that shows the screws on the panel, so I am able to confirm it is another zinker.
Brown Monument detail

Brown Monument

Brown Monument

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