You may have noticed the incredible wicker coffin in our recent photoshoot- and yes, it is a real coffin!
This particular one dates to about the 1890s and is in phenomenal shape! Clearly I really need one in baby pink for my apartment.
Wicker coffins or transfer baskets were used to store bodies before being moved for burial or while waiting for a doctor to come pronounce the individual dead. These light weight coffins were especially common during the Civil War as they were easily moved and a lower cost to produce than wooden coffins.
Made of woven willow or other sturdy plant materials, bent and shaped usually around a wooden frame. This coffin had a wooden interior back and strong hinges. Some had leather straps for keeping the coffin closed during transport.
In the Victorian era and post Civil War these coffins were primarily used for viewings, where guests would come pay their final respects to the deceased while their body was placed in the coffin “on view” for the attendees. These wicker coffins were still used up until the 1930s for removing bodies from crime scenes, before bodybags became ubiquitous with that task.
There’s a current movement in funerals back towards “natural” burial options including wicker coffins. Individuals don’t want their bodies preserved unnaturally but to decay and contribute to the circle of life. Below is a modern one: