I have never done a gravestone rubbing and generally consider myself to be opposed to the practice. Perhaps this is because I got my start in gravestone studies in Northeastern Connecticut, where many of the gravestones are made of delicate red sandstone and rubbing is absolutely forbidden due to their fragility.
Yet, I must concede that a good gravestone rubbing is a thing of tremendous beauty. I once saw a rubbing of the Charles Bardin stone that nearly took my breath away — the technique made the image of God seem to be bathed in light rather than surrounded by monotone slate.
I was poking through the Farber Gravestone Collection yesterday and came across some stunning rubbings. Just look how a well-done rubbing illuminates the details on the Jonathan Wyatt stone (1775) in Newport:
I can appreciate these beautiful reproductions, but I'm not sure that the good outweighs the possibility for harm. For now, I'll stick to photographs.