Wednesday, December 21, 2016

These Coffin Technologies from the 1800s That Protect You from Being Buried Alive

It's called taphophobia — the fear of being buried alive. If you have it, you might want to invest in one of these coffins.

In the eighteenth century, rumors swirled about people accidentally buried alive when they lapsed into a deathlike state from cholera. Hundreds of people were listed as having been buried alive in the 1800s. That's what makes these so-called "safety coffins" so strange and yet, somehow, oddly compelling. Here are 6 coffin technologies from the 1800s that protect you from being buried alive.

1. Just climb out, if you can


This 1868 patent is one of the earliest American coffin patents. The idea is that you'd only be buried up to the air holes. Then, should you pull on a lever, you could either ring a bell or simply lift the lid and use a ladder to climb out of your own accord. If you didn't for a week or so, then they'd finish burying you.

Basically, this one proposes that the best solution for being buried alive is to not really be buried at all.


2. Ring a bell, ring a bell for your sweet life


The 1885 device seen here claimed to provide new "life-guard signals for people buried in a trance." It seeks not only to notify the living, but to preserve the buried. A pulled string starts the flow of air into the coffin, so the buried person can breathe. Then, via a lamp lowered into a tube, people aboveground can peer into the coffin to see if somebody is alive or not. The person can also send out a signal they're alive, by animating some feathers or ringing a bell.


3. Signal with your mouth


This 1894 invention gives buried people a pipe to the world above so that if they turn out to be alive, they can hit a signal device with their head and a bright signal, like a red flag, will be revealed. While they wait to be rescued, they get to enjoy sucking on a nearby air tube.


4. Break some glass with your head


The vision behind this 1899 invention was twofold: The living could observe a corpse through a window to make sure it was dead and, if so, close the window. If the person wasn't dead, the body would jerk up, break a glass panel that admitted air, and hopefully make enough noise to be rescued.


5. Air if you're alive (and less-smelly air if you're dead)


According to the 1899 patent, this coffin had two purposes: If you were alive, it would supply you with air from the outside. If you were dead, it would use a small lamp to burn disinfectant, so that fresh air flowed inside the coffin and any air that exited was "purified." It satisfied those who were equally afraid of being buried alive and of smelling bad.


6. Perform Morse code


Invented in 1900, this coffin includes an elaborate system based on closed circuits. Once the buried person closes a circuit, an oxygen reservoir opens, a signal is sent through a wire system, and, hopefully, a life is saved.

Technically you wouldn't have to perform Morse code to survive, but the signal device couldn't have hurt to send a long message, like, "Please help me, I have been buried alive and am being forced to remember Morse code."

(via Vox)

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