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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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In Transit: 1927

In Transit: 1927

Washington, D.C., circa 1927. "W.W. Chambers Co., 1400 Chapin Street." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
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Speaking of coffins...

Shortly after moving to Denver years ago, a friend took me to an old brick manufacturing plant right off one of the highways. He told me to pay close attention to the front face then drove me around the building. The back wall was considerably shorter than the front, and as we drove back it appeared to me that the sides were oddly angled. My buddy told me it had once been a coffin manufacturer; the building was actually shaped like one of those old fashioned "Dracula" style coffins.

I never saw an aerial view of the place. I guess it could've been an Urban Legend and my imagination fell for it on account of the back being so much shorter than the front. But even though I was in my 30s at the time I got the willies just THINKING about being locked in the place overnight.

Any old time Denverites know the building I'm talking about?


The wooden boxes do appear to be the ones used to ship caskets or at least they look like the ones we had at American Casket Company back in 1948. In the days before concrete vaults came on the scene, the crates were frequently used as grave liners. The casket on the cart is what was called an Octagon, as opposed to the squared-off "State" models.

The caskets we made were almost invariably covered with wool broadcloth for the higher grades, cheaper ones were covered with plush, which hid any little defects (knots etc) in the pine lumber, but when broadcloth was to be used, we had to fill any defects and sand everything smooth.

I never worried that I might have been making my very own "box," but I was a lot younger then. The cheapest casket, the Pauper, sold for $29 at the factory.

Still in business

The "Largest Undertakers" sign was removed from the Riverdale, Maryland, location about 10 years ago.

I'm an Idiot!

I read the caption fast and got it in my head they were storing glass plate
negatives and wondered what the devil a casket doing there.

Did I really write that?

Now that's what I'd call a dead end.

. . . Largest Undertakers in the World

In the 1970s W.W. Chambers was located on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, Maryland. They had a large neon sign across the front of their building. In small type it said "One of the" and then in large type it said "Largest Undertakers in the World."

Remember This!

Funerals Complete

...including fine-made casket of quality,
hearse, cars and embalming, use of our funeral parlors.

$75, $100, $125, $150 up

We guarantee our charge to be one-half the old-time undertaker's price.
Ambulances, $4.00 - local removals.
Rember This!
Our name is on back of the phone book

W.W. Chambers Co.

The Brown Stone Funeral Home

Cor. Chapin and 14th N.W.


The inside was outside

This mortuary storeroom appears to have been added by infilling a narrow outdoor passage space between two brick buildings, the one on the left much more neatly built than the one on the right. The casket on its nickel-plated truck adds a sense of scale to the standing crates, but what are they? Are these shipping crates from casket manufacturers, crates used to transport occupied caskets to other cities for interment, or older versions of "Don't make a big show when I die. Just stick me in a pine box?"

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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