October 20, 2006

Dead Signal

Filed under: ephemera, science — ted @ 1:16 pm

Via the The Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society: wonderful images of security coffins, devices designed to allow victims of accidental burial to signal from the grave.

The ultimate technological development in this quest to prevent premature interment was the Security Coffin, an invention that allowed the mistakenly buried to communicate with the world above ground. Variations on the invention proliferated in the 19th century, especially in Germany, where the fear of being buried alive was apparently especially severe. In the United States, at least 22 patents for security coffins were filed between 1868 and 1925. Most models included an air tube and a device that allowed the undead (and presumably terrified) individual enclosed in the coffin to alert the living by either ringing a bell, blowing a horn, or raising a flag. One model included a mechanical brass hammer that smashed open a glass plane in the coffin lid. Another allowed the prematurely buried individual to launch a firecracker through the coffin’s air tube. Some, impractically, also came equipped with a shovel.

Or, alternatively, if you’re Black Mamba, you can simply punch your way out.


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