Monday, November 1, 2010

Gravestone of the Day: Lydia Kingsbery

Sorry I don't have a better picture of this one:
Lydia Kingsbery, 1732, Wrentham, MA

Decd October
ye [10 d] 1732
IN 10 Year of
her Age

This is a crappy picture, but I wanted to post it anyway because the shape of the stone is intriguing. Although the stone has an irregular shape, the placement of the words shows that the stone was that shape before it was carved. Little or no effort was made to shape the stone into a regular rectangle , though the edges may have been smoothed. I have no idea why the carver decided to put the smaller edge on the bottom, rather than putting the widest side at the base. It seems reasonable to assume that the carver was not a professional working in a shop, but, at the same time, the lettering isn't all that bad. Could this have been carved by someone who was used to lettering/carving in another medium?

This gravestone is a relatively early survival for the Wrentham graveyard. The graveyard is very old, but most of the stones are post-1770. Many of the pre-1750 stones are from Boston or Providence, while this one looks local. Yet, the text follows the conventions of gravestones fairly closely, even while the form does not. The carver, whoever he was, was probably familiar with professionally cut gravestones, owing to his use of conventions such as Decd" and the order of the text. His style is old-fashioned — note the cross on the capital I — but not exactly rough. Is it possible that he may have carved wooden grave markers? That might explain the good letters and the wonky shape here.

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