Gravestone Rubbings

This is a practice that is being banned in some states and in many cemeteries. Connecticut has particular problems because of the many gravestones that are sandstone. These stones will erode internally leaving the surface (that has hardened over the years due to environmental exposure) seemingly very stable for rubbing when in fact the stone is hollow beneath. The pressure of wax rubbing or cleaning can cause the stone to fracture or implodecausing irrevocable damage to an historic artifact. Many cemeteries now ask for permits before you are allowed to do rubbings – check this information out in advance.

Before proceeding…

  1. Be sure the stone you choose is COMPLETELY stable.
  2. Be sure that your medium will in no way leave any residue on the stone.
  3. Be sure that you completely cover the entire stone before beginning your rubbing, making sure that it is securely taped down. If only doing lunettes, please be sure that a large enough area is covered to protect the stone. Doing a rubbing with waxes is not the only medium used these days for copying that image you are so fond of. Check other resources and learn more about other techniques like dabbing and foiling.

Teachers – Please seek advice before taking a group of school children out in an old graveyard to do rubbings. There are many ways to work with children of all ages using an old graveyard for your resource. Many of them are virtually “no cost” activities.

For more information, contact CGN.