The Marsellus Masterpiece

Time for another Casket Spotlight, and boy is this one a beauty.  The Masterpiece by Marsellus Caskets Co is my all-time favorite casket.  The reason I like it is not because it is expensive (around $16,000 retail), or has a really soft velvet interior (oooh, it is nice).  I like this casket because even the underside of the casket looks good.  Nothing is forgotton or hidden in the construction.  The skill and craftsmanship it takes to make the unit is like no other that I know of.  This casket personifies excellence and elegance.  If I have my way, this will be the one that I am buried in.

A little history on the Marsellus Casket Company.  Marsellus was a small manufacturer, but they put out an awesome casket.  They have been regarded as the Rolls Royce of caskets in the funeral industry.  However, their distribution was small and so one thing led to another (its a long story, believe me), and their intangible assets were acquired by Batesville Casket Co (the big guys) in 2003.  I read that it would have cost more to overhaul the factory than to just move the operation because a lot of their machines were from the 1930’s.  So now Batesville manufactures the caskets at their plant in Mississippi.

The Masterpiece casket has some impressive specs.  It is contructed of with solid Mahogany planks that are 2 inches thick (known as 8/4 or “eight quarter” in the woodworking world).  When completed, it weighs 400 pounds.  The casket takes 6 months to build and is done completely by hand.  The finish on the wood is hand rubbed to a brilliant shine and takes 16 hours to complete.  The casket is quite impressive to see in person.

Marsellus Caskets have also been known as the caskets of the presidents.  It makes sense since John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan were all buried in caskets by Marsellus.

Underside of Marsellus MasterpieceMarsellus Masterpiece


47 Responses to “The Marsellus Masterpiece”

  1. October 25, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    I think that the Marsellus Casket is beautiful, but who is willing to pay $16,000 for a casket?

  2. 3 Steph K
    March 17, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    I am not sure how I stumbled on to these pics,but having been a funeral apprentice many years ago I am glad I did.Yes, that Reagan casket is a beaut and there are those of us who recognize that caskets can be works of art.Do you have a photo of the Marcellus that was used for the Kennedys and Nixon? I believe I had read that they had all been buried in a similiar if not same model? Thanks.

    • 4 Thom Norris
      April 25, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      JFK, Nixon, Ford and their First Ladies are in the Marsellus 710 – President. JFK is in a hinge-cap, only the front-half of the carapace opens, rather than the full cut of the entire lid. You can Google for an image of the model 710. I’m a funeral director as well and I’ve sold many 710’s. They are simple elegance. Buried my grandmother in one, with a full-top and bronze inner liner with an oval glass top on it, all upholstered in french blue Vel Allure velvet. It was WOW.

      • 5 Signor Roberto
        June 8, 2015 at 3:44 am

        The description of the Marcellus 710 said it weighs 400 pounds, but I think it must weigh much more. It took 8 pall bearers to carry the casket at his funeral, and they were young men with experience.

  3. 6 Morty Mike
    April 5, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    I just love Marsellus. Been a multi-state Lic director/Embalmer i also collect Old Marsellus Items. If you havent seen the “Masterpiece carved top” Oh, your missing a gorgious casket.Its a carving of flowers twisted on a vine from head to toe on top the the casket…. all by hand what craftsmenship went into it. The carved top adds about 200+Lbs to the casket(and about $20K for the unit).I dont think you can get the “Masterpiece carved top” anymore, the “President carved top” replaced it.

    • 7 Kim Kotila
      December 12, 2009 at 7:59 pm

      Dear Morty Mike, I would love a picture of the carved flowers on top the the Masterpiece. Do you have one? I have been working for some time on a new line of caskets. Please check out my website, Apollocasket.com What does the “President carved top” look like? Thanks a lot.
      You could reach me via Apollo Casket, or kkotila@comcast.net

      Also, Steph K, I would love to see your photos of “The President”

      Kim Kotila

    • 8 Thom Norris
      April 25, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      I’d luv a picture of the Masterpiece carved-top…..with the carved carapace also mounted inside the full-open top as the center design….then add the carved-top inner foot panel. Way over the top. Every piece of the velvet interior was also completely hand biscuit tufted. Tag line in the photo read “A simple casket is always appropriate”. Love it!

      • 9 m
        April 26, 2013 at 2:50 am

        Stewart Enterprise is selling the master piece in tampa for $28,500.00 when you can buy it for under $16,000.00. I love this casket, but do you think they are overcharging?

    • 10 Robert Adcock
      December 18, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      Sure you can I made one about 8 to 10 months ago. Master Craftsmans

  4. 11 Morty Mike
    April 5, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Hey Steph K,
    Kennedy, Nixon and Ford were in Marsellus’ Model# 710 “The President” mahogany casket. I have photos if you give me an email address ill send them, Tried to post here and wouldnt work.Let me know.

  5. 13 Jason
    March 5, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    What’s the point of paying all that money for something that will be buried and left to rot?

  6. 15 bert
    April 30, 2010 at 12:35 am

    This is a master piece, My boss lady in Nassau, Bahamas was buried in one recently.

  7. 16 Seamus
    September 29, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Unfortunately, I’m looking at the old Marsellus Casket Company right now, as it’s on fire. The fire started early this morning and it finally appears to be under control.

  8. 17 Christina
    September 29, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    I live a block from the former Marsellus Casket Co. It saddens me that yet another piece of our history is going down, most likely because of some idiot who could care less about such important things. Officials believe the fire will burn into tomorrow, and the building will have to be demolished. The roof has collapsed through two floors already and I guess the building could collapse any time. I just hope someone saves the clock, if nothing else.

  9. 18 John
    September 30, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    I am very saddened about the old Marsellus Casket Company building burning down. It is a sad day for mahogany everywhere.

  10. 19 Seamus
    October 15, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    They tore it down a few days later, and to my knowledge, the clock was not saved. The view out my office window now consists of Arby’s and railroad tracks. Yay. :p

  11. June 13, 2011 at 4:44 am

    The Marsellus wich is the Mercedes Benz 560 SEL of caskets is what I will be buried in in my copper lined lawn crypt I have 2 life insurance policies to assure and yea will be buried in my black pinstriped suit with black shirt red ties and gold clips and with jewelry and will have a traditional requiem with Slavonic not the Vatican 2 feel good special you do this once and so Das Bests oder Nichts(the best or nothing) !!!

  12. 21 B E Epps
    January 16, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Yes it is true that president JFK was put away in an Marsellus 710 Casket, and it’s also true the price tag was ONLY $3,189, now there is a $13,000 increse in price. Why?

    • 22 John
      January 18, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      I can’t speak for Marsellus (or Batesville now) as to reasons for price increase. But if I had to venture a guess, I would say there are two reasons. First, its built out of Mahogany. Its a pricey wood that is become more and more scarce by the year. Secondly, and probably the biggest factor, is inflation! Nothing costs the same as it did in 1963. I did a quick search for inflation calculator on google and input the numbers to see what something that was $3198 in 1963 would cost today. The answer was $23,576.71. So maybe people are actually getting a better deal today?

      • 23 David
        January 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm

        I was recently looking at this casket and it had a $60,000.00 price tag. And the top was almost 5″ thick mahogany. The softest velvet interior that I ever felt.

  13. 24 Bigcat101
    June 3, 2012 at 3:02 am

    I was told many years ago that Abe Lincoln was buried in a Marcellus Casket. Can any of you casket cadets confirm this ? Central New York lost a major empolyer when the York Group /Hillibrand Industries ambushed Marcellus. Their stated reasons for not staying in Syracuse NY is bullshit. They just wanted the best and most well respected Hardwood casket manufacturer company name ” Marcellus Caskets”. You can slap a caviar sticker on a pail of shit and not know for sure what it is until you taste it. Once you take a close look Then you know it is truely shit not caviar. Plus you can get folks in the south to work for much lower wages. Once again the guys in the suits win out. The people who worked for Marcellus Caskets in Syracuse NY are not only wood craftsman but artists as well.

    • 25 Tim
      October 31, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      I may know a tail or two as my father worked there for many years.

      Loren M. Johnson, 80, of Baldwinsville, died Wednesday, March 22, 2006 at his home. He was born in Polk County, WI, and was a graduate of Cato-Meridian High School. Loren worked on a Dairy Crop Farm for 31 years in Ira, NY and then worked for G.E. for 13 years. He retired as a Superintendant at Marsellus Casket Co. after 16 years and continued as a Consultant there for an additional 10 years.

  14. 26 Craig Loew
    July 1, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Any comments on the quality of a York Parliament Mahogany casket? Where does this mahogany casket rank on workmanship and materials? It’s a beautiful piece, just wondered if those that see them all had any comments on it.

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  25. 37 gerard
    November 10, 2014 at 12:24 am

    Anyone know what kind of casket Brooke Astor was buried in? I love the color of the wood, atlhough I would probably go a touch more darker in color. But I loved the natural, polished wood look. The casket looks quite modern, but with traditional characteristics that keep it well within dignity and simplicity. Thanks for anyone who knows!

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  27. 39 Benjamin Poole
    November 18, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    The Marsellus 710 is beyond beautiful

  28. March 13, 2016 at 1:50 am

    Nancy Reagan was buried in a Marsellus.

  29. 41 Steve Aubin
    March 14, 2016 at 4:01 am

    Actually SCI purchased the Marsellus Casket Co. and after 5 years they sold the name and designs to Batesville.

    • 42 crump
      March 14, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      Batesville does not make the Marsellus Masterpiece nearly as well as the original company Marsellus has for over a century. I would never purchase any casket from Batesville, even the Marsellus. It’s just not the true Marsellus anymore, and never can be. I continue to prefer smaller boutique casket companies that focus on quality and craftsmanship like Marcellus did instead of companies like Batesville who mass-produce from an assembly line. New England Casket Co is a much better choice or similar smaller companies like them. The Reagans (Ronald & Nancy) prepurchased their Marsellus caskets long before Marsellus went out of business…..a very smart, timely move on their part. If you saw Nancy Reagan funeral on TV or on youtube, you can clearly see the true and original beauty and design of the Marsellus Masterpiece in all its glory. Her casket is a Marsellus, no Batesville associations attached which is much preferred. I say this with no disrespect to the Batesville company. But I’d never purchase anything from Batesville for myself or family.

  30. April 4, 2016 at 9:58 am

    Thats why I looked up this company. President Kennedy buried in a Marsellus. As was President’s Nixon and Reagan. My understanding is that these caskets are the top of the line. I remember that JFK was returned to DC in a Bronze casket that was damaged enroute. The family purchased a new one in Washington. What is interesting to me is that these caskets carry a rich historical importance with them.

  31. 44 Jordin
    November 22, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    Great blog… This all American hand made casket will no longer be a all American masterpiece. The spring of 2017 Batesville Casket Co. Is moving the Batesville Mississippi location to Mexico. Now I don’t know for sure if Batesville will move the Marsellus production line to Mexico or just move it to another American Batesville location, such as the original location iin Batesville Indiana.

    • 45 Robert Adcock
      December 19, 2016 at 2:06 pm

      My understanding is that the Marsellus line will be moved to East Boston,Mass.

      • 46 kevin
        December 19, 2016 at 2:30 pm

        That may be correct. I honestly do not know. But it really doesnt matter where they go, the fact that Batesville will take over the Marsellus line is enougj of a reason to bail and choose a different small, reputable company for beautiful wood caskets. I would opt for New England Casket Co. The Marsellus will never be what it once was unfortunately.

  32. 47 Lou
    January 20, 2017 at 2:13 am

    Lady Astor was buried in the CONCORD by New England Casket. It had the brown mahogany color which is a little on the lighter side.

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