Undertaker Businesscards from 18th Century

Zwei olle „Visitenkarten“ von den ersten Bestattern aus dem 18. Jahrhundert, als man anfing, den Beruf offiziell zu benennen und zu organisieren. Die Teile stammen von Daniel Butler aus einer der ersten Bestatter-Familien in England.

The trade of funeral undertaker developed in London towards the end of the 17th century. An undertaker initially seems to have one or other of the tradesmen who supplied services or furnishings for a funeral, and more especially for a middle-class or aristocratic funeral. The tradesman would operate as a contractor, undertaking to arrange the various components of a funeral around his own trade. Thus the first known undertaker, William Russell, was a coffin maker and painter who came to an arrangement with the College of Arms in 1689. The college agreed to attend funerals organized by Russell for a fee.

So rapid was the development of this industry that the aristocratic and heraldic origins were rapidly usurped by the undertaker and his employees. By the middle of the 18th century undertaking was an established profession in the capital, encompassing not only the immediate needs of the bereaved in organizing a funeral, but appraising and selling the contents of houses, arranging the service with the church, and advising on the type of funeral which was seen to be appropriate for the social circumstances of the deceased.

Undertaker’s Trade Card, 1745