Metal caskets are popular for their durability and strength. And bronze epitomizes those sought-after qualities. Compared to hardwood caskets, steel caskets, and other options, bronze outlasts them all. So if you want a casket that can last forever and resist the elements, bronze might be the choice.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What’s a Bronze Casket?
- How Much Do Bronze Caskets Usually Cost?
- Are There Different Types of Bronze Caskets?
But bronze caskets aren’t right for everyone. Many people prefer materials that decompose more naturally (or those that don’t break the bank). Below, we’ll explore the world of bronze caskets and help you understand the different types and costs.
What’s a Bronze Casket?
A bronze casket is a casket made entirely (or almost entirely) out of the metal alloy known as bronze.
Other caskets, like those made of hardwood of steel, might feature bronze elements and details. But this doesn’t make them “bronze caskets.”
Likewise, a casket might be “bronze-finished,” but in truth, be made of steel. These caskets might even be advertised as “bronze caskets.” But it’s essential to understand the difference between solid bronze and bronze-finished.
History of bronze caskets
Throughout most of history, caskets have been constructed out of wood and cloth. The first steel casket appeared in the 1840s with a US patent for an iron casket. The bronze-finished iron casket included a glass lid so that mourners could look in on the deceased.
Manufacturers didn’t start building metal caskets on a larger scale until 1918. And in the 1950s and 1960s, metal caskets made of easy-to-manufacture steel became the norm.
Today, stainless steel caskets are still the most popular in developed nations like the United States. But bronze and copper offer families a more durable option.
What makes bronze caskets unique?
Bronze is the strongest and longest-lasting casket material. It’s an alloy consisting of copper and tin, making it highly resistant to corrosion. Like copper, bronze is naturally rust-resistant. And because it often includes other metals, like aluminum, nickel, arsenic, and zinc, bronze is even stronger than copper alone.
In addition to its durability, bronze is a popular casket material because it’s available in a wide range of styles, colors, and designs. As an alloy, it’s highly machinable and customizable. So a bronze casket can feature complex designs and elaborate details that other materials might not accommodate.
But all of that durability and detail come with a price tag. Bronze caskets are often some of the most expensive casket options in the showroom.
How Much Do Bronze Caskets Usually Cost?
Bronze caskets cost an average of about $3,000. But there’s a lot of wiggle room when it comes to bronze caskets. More elaborate options can cost $10,000 or more, while simpler models can cost around $1,500.
In addition to its level of detail and craftsmanship, a casket’s weight affects its price. And that’s especially true in the case of bronze caskets, which are measured by weight rather than gauge.
Bronze casket weights
While most metal caskets are measured and priced based on gauge (the thickness of the metal), bronze and copper caskets are assessed by weight per square foot And as a general rule, the heavier the metal, the higher the price.
For example, a 48-ounce (per square foot) bronze casket will cost more than a 32-ounce bronze casket of the exact same size.
And of course, the weight-per-square-foot affects the overall weight of the casket, which is important to keep in mind. A 48-ounce bronze casket that’s 84 inches long and 29 inches wide will weigh 310 pounds. And a 32-ounce bronze casket of the same size weighs 260 pounds.
Other pricing factors
The other factors that can raise or lower the price of a bronze casket are the same as with any other casket material. Those include:
- Additional materials. For example, the quality of the casket liner can make a great difference in the casket’s price. And metal details like the casket’s handles or rails might be made of bronze or less expensive metal, like steel.
- Details and crafting. As mentioned, the number of added details, decorative features, added colors, and the quality of craftsmanship affects a casket’s price.
- Markups. The more middle-people a casket goes through, the higher its price might be marked up. That means buying a bronze casket from a funeral home may be more expensive than buying one directly from the manufacturer or online.
Are There Different Types of Bronze Caskets?
Within the category of bronze caskets, you have even more decisions to make. There are several different types of bronze caskets, which we’ll describe below.
1. Half-couch bronze caskets
When you think of a casket at a funeral, you most likely think of a half-couch casket. This is the kind of casket with a lid that opens in two halves: the top half and the bottom half.
Half-couch bronze caskets are more popular than their full-couch counterparts because they create a comfortable appearance for open-casket viewings. But many families also use half-couch caskets even if they don’t hold a viewing at all.
2. Full-couch bronze caskets
In the US, full-couch bronze caskets are less popular than the half-couch option. But in the UK, full-couch caskets still feature at many funerals.
Whether you choose a full-couch or half-couch bronze casket depends on what you want for the viewing (if you’re holding on) and on which appearance you prefer.
3. Glass-windowed bronze caskets
A windowed bronze casket isn’t a casket with a view. Instead, it’s a half- or full-couch casket with glass overlaid the opening. Some families choose this option so that the deceased is enclosed in the casket, but still visible for viewing.
The glass window might cover the entire opening of the casket or the entirety to protect the body.
4. Bronze and steel caskets
A solid-bronze casket might include features made of other metals. For example, the hand-rails on the casket could be made out of steel or stainless steel. This adds interest to the appearance of the casket, and it costs less than creating those features out of bronze.
And since those added details aren’t integral to the structure of the casket, you can still rest assured that your bronze casket will last through the ages.
5. Bronze and gold caskets
Instead of standard steel or stainless steel, you could up the style of a bronze casket by adding gold detailing. Some bronze caskets are even gold-plated.
If price is no issue, a unique, bronze casket with elegant gold handrails and design elements might be a viable option.
6. Brushed bronze and polished bronze
A factor that makes a big impact on the appearance of a bronze casket is whether it’s brushed or polished bronze. A brushed bronze casket has a softer, more natural appearance, while polished bronze can have a mirror-like finish.
Brushed bronze caskets are also often darker in color (what you might traditional picture as “bronze,”), while polished bronze caskets can look like shimmering gold.
7. Heavyweight and lightweight bronze
As outlined above, the weight of the bronze you choose makes a difference when it comes to price. The weight also affects how durable your bronze casket really is.
Heavier bronze contains denser metal elements that weigh more and last longer. Lighter-weight bronze contains less dense elements, like aluminum and silicon, that don’t add to the alloy’s durability.
Is Bronze Right for You?
Bronze is an extremely durable and customizable casket material, but it’s not right for everyone. If you choose bronze for your own or your loved one’s casket, it’s important to understand just how long your casket will remain in the earth. While it does oxidize and begin to break down after long periods of time, bronze doesn’t rust, and it’s extremely slow to decompose. As an example, archeologists have discovered bronze artifacts dating all the way back to 4500 BC.
So if you enjoy knowing that someone might discover your casket in thousands of years, bronze might be the perfect choice for you. If not, you might want to consider faster-decomposing options like wood and wicker. And of course, you always have burial alternatives like cremation.
- Weber, Austin. “The History of Caskets.” Assembly. 2 October 2009. www.assemblymag.com/articles/87043-the-history-of-caskets
- “Detailed Batesville casket weights and dimensions..” Batesville International. www.batesville.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Batesville-Australia-Casket-weights-and-dimensions-2017.pdf