Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Stonecutters Part One

What does this image symbolize? A friend suggested ... a loving couple who liked fountain pens? Writers? But the carvings don't look exactly like pens. A loving partnership is certainly implied. It's impossible to know just what a symbol meant to the person paying for it to be carved on the stone, as it might be different from the meaning the stonecutter attached to it, or the original designer's meaning. Some of the symbols stonecutter Charles Baldwin recalled in his 1860's journal were Scotch thistles, wreaths, various medallions, including one with the word  Memory in the center, garlands of flowers. It took him almost a week to complete one large ornate wreath . But this stonecutter's journal is mostly full of descriptions of all the young ladies he'd like to get to know better, and he describes a carved marble box he presented to Sarah after they'd seen each other for a season

Did stonecutters sign their work? Many carved their initials or full names in a lower corner, and many signatures sunk out of sight as time passed. Christian Funk, a Pennsylvania stonecutter etched his full name into each stone.

The Long names of clients also posed a problem for stonecutters and the families paying for the work to be done. In one Pennsylvania cemetery, the Truckenmiller name was often shortened to T`Miller. Another gravestone in Norfolk Virginia reads Sacred to the memory of Margaret... Erratum, for Margaret, read Martha. The old stonecutters may have made errors, left spaces and chips, crowded letters too close together, or got the wording wrong, but they still made many artistic masterpieces.

No comments: