Caskets for Burials
The casket industry traces its roots back to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, where wood, cloth and paper were used to make sarcophagus-style burial boxes. In the United States, the specialization of casket manufacturing developed in the late 19th century. Today, it is a $1.2 billion industry and Batesville Casket Co. is the leading manufacturer.
In the United States, the early coffin making evolved from local furniture and cabinet makers who doubled as undertakers. They built wood coffins on an as-needed basis. However, during the Civil War, thousands of coffins were needed to transport dead soldiers, marking the start of the mass-produced casket era. The sheer number of deaths led to a phenomenon known as "the beautification of death." People sought to distance themselves from the pain of death by changing the name and shape of coffins. This led to the evolution of the casket, which was more massive and had a different shape than traditional coffins (four sides instead of six). They adapted the word "casket" meaning a small ornamental box or chest for holding jewels, letters, or other valuable objects.