The Kayser Collection

Without a lot of spare time to enjoy many pastimes or hobbies, collecting, restoring and showing antique cars, and collecting antique funeral equipment and memorabilia, has become a passion for the Kaysers over the years.   Old cars can be enjoyed and worked on when time is available and left parked in garage when there isn't.   While much of actual restoration work has been done by a professional restoration shop, locating a rare vehicle and tracking down elusive parts is like a modern day treasure hunt--you just never know when a phone call or email will turn up the unexpected.

1939 Henney Nu-3-Way Packard Hearse
Purchased in 1994 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin funeral home owner, Grant Schmidt with 32,000 miles showing on the odometer, it was immediately placed into service upon special request.   Over the years it has been freshened up only as needed and meticulously maintained in perfect working condition.  It was taken to Ainsworth Hot Springs, BC, Canada and used during the filming of the cemetery scene from "Snow Falling on Cedars" starring Ethan Hawke and Max Von Sydow.  Many families have requested use of this hearse to honor a family member from an older generation or those that also love old cars.   A unique feature of original interior is ability to load and unload casket from either side or rear of hearse.


1939 Sayers and Scovill Imperial Cadillac "Carved Side" Hearse 
This vehicle was found and purchased in 1994 in very tired condition.  Following a 2 1/2 year restoration it has been shown extensively across country winning just about every award possible.   It has earned Senior Grand National badges with both Antique Automobile Club of America and Cadillac LaSalle Club and has been honored by AACA with their coveted "National Award".  "Carving" on each side and rear door is cast aluminum and there are 12 seperate pieces per side.   Casket compartment is reminiscent of a cathedral with original walnut paneling and hand etched sunburst divider glass.   Front grill and hood features S & S exclusive "date marks" in their attempt to disguise identity and year of chassis.  Mounted on front bumper is a very rare "Silent Siren" that flashes on and off to warn traffic of a funeral procession.  It is only known surviving example of this model hearse on a Cadillac chassis.
Bottom photo was recently taken by Justin Alaniz of Lucid Concepts Photography here in Moses Lake.   His photographic images are shared on his website:   www.lucidconceptsphotography.com


1926 Studebaker Big Six Hearse
This 1926 Studebaker Big Six hearse was located in Crosby, North Dakota in very tired and worn out condition.   When new it served the Minot, ND community through P.C. Hamre Undertaking Temple.  An old photograph was provided by a grandson of Mr. Hamre showing him standing at rear of hearse in front of funeral home.  When we purchased car it still had Hamre nameplates mounted in front windows and registration papers back to WWII.   Vehicle was trailered to Moses Lake and restored over a 3 year period and has been shown extensively across the country since.   It has earned Senior Grand National badge with AACA and has also won AACA's coveted "National Award".  The two times it has been shown at Studebaker Nationals it has won Pre-War Division Best of Show with scores of 396 and 400 out of 400 respectfully.  It features a special embossed leather interior duplicated from original 1920's Studebaker plates and a walnut flower tray suspended in casket compartment to display floral tributes during procession.  May be only surviving example of this make and year hearse.
Justin Alaniz's work as a photographer is represented again in the recently taken bottom photo.


1900 era Sayers and Scovill Horsedrawn Hearse
Our 1900 S & S horsedrawn hearse was purchased from retired Ellensburg funeral home owner, George Evenson.  He started restoration stripping carriage of many layers of paint down to bare wood.   When we acquired carriage it was apart and in boxes.   A stunning carriage emerged after restoration.   The hearse at 7 1/2 feet tall is accented by nickel plated hardware and 38 inch silver plated kerosene coach lamps.  Original tongue and double tree would be hitched to a pair of matching horses.  Bottom two photos show original cloth backed rubber floor board mat of carriage.  Note Sayers and Scovill logo used from founding of company in 1876 through early 1900's.


1933 Packard Eight Club Sedan
A surviving vehicle from depths of Great Depression.  Packards from 1933 and 1934 are considered by many to be the most beautiful ever designed and built.   The club sedan was just one of many models Packard produced on Eight, Super Eight and Twelve chassis.  While not restored for show, vehicle is an excellent and reliable tour car and has provided many enjoyable outings.   Plans for future include national tours around country.   Bottom two photographs were recently taken by Justin Alaniz of Lucid Concepts Photography.   He does amazing work and can be found at his website:  www.lucidconceptsphotography.com


1961 Ford Econoline 5 Window Pickup

Our true family treasure is this 1961 Ford Econoline Pickup.   Pickup was purchased by my dad, James Kayser when nearly new.   It was a real workhorse hauling cattle, hay, people, delivering papers and anything else it was called upon to do.  I learned to drive in this vehicle and asked Ronda out for our first date when in it.   I later bought it from him and eventually restored back to "new"  condition with original upholstery and accessories.  There is a reason these were called "Econolines" as they are only rated 1/4 ton, body work was never finished smooth showing spot welds of seams, interior door and window handles are plastic, it is powered with a 144 cubic inch 6 cylinder engine and only has 13 inch wheels.   Our son has already spoken for it, so it will soon be in hands of third generation of Kayser family.


1948 Henney Packard Hearse

Our 1948 Henney Packard hearse, right from a North Dakota farmer's barn, has recently undergone an extensive makeover at a professional restoration shop.   Body work, fresh black paint, redone chrome and a completely new interior have turned an old worn out work horse into a visually stunning funeral coach once again.   It will join our 1939 Henney Packard hearse back in service upon special request.  


1950 Henney Packard Flower Car 

Restoration project for future is this rare 1950 Henney Packard flower car.   One of only six or seven known to have survived, it will certainly be a unusual sight on car show circuit once finished.   Seldom seen, especially on West Coast, flower cars are usually owned by large city funeral homes in the East.   Floral tributes are displayed on stainless steel decking during funeral procession.  It can also be used as a hearse as there is a casket compartment with loading at the rear of the car.   A versatile vehicle, it could fill in for numerous needs of funeral home. 


Another project for future is our son's 1969 Mustang coupe.    We found car when he was a newly licensed driver in high school showing only 42K miles.   He drove it throughout high school and college.   Wishing I still had my first car, a 1966 Mustang, we purchased back from him with plans on restoring and returning to him later on.

Three extremely rare Fiske Metallic Cast Iron Coffins from Civil War era.   Smallest, or infant sized, has been damaged or in a fire sometime in past.  Medium, or youth sized, appears to be unused and still has original lace around viewing glass and original brown exterior paint.  Largest is adult size and weighs around 200 lbs.  We have had contact from Smithsonian Institute regarding cast iron coffins to document existence and condition.  Bottom photo is a rare youth sized wooden coffin referred to as an "Ice Coffin" dating from the late 1800's.   Curved metal tray is suspended over body for ice with rubber drain tubes out bottom.   Shorter lid is removed for viewing and top can be removed to add more ice.  Body board was used so deceased child could be lifted out and placed in permanent coffin prior to burial.


Wicker removal baskets used for transporting deceased remains from place of death.  Shown are infant, youth and adult size baskets.   While fairly common to collectors, finding examples with original horse hair filled pillow are not.  These would date from early 1900's up to 1940's.   Term "basket case" is derived from use of these baskets.


Various cooling boards (original embalming tables), grips (embalming kits and instruments in cases), blood bottles, infant coffins and adult and child slumber couches.   Many date back to late 1800's and early 1900's.   These were taken to the home where embalming process took place and remains laid out prior to arrival of coffin.   Most embalming and viewing took place in homes as funeral homes as we know today did not exist. 


Late 1800's embalming fluid containers.   Top photo is 5 gallon Durfee jug, next 3 gallon Durfee jug and then 1 gallon Durfee jug, with all 3 jugs together. Bottom two photos are 3 gallon and 5 gallon wooden Higham Rocker Lid Boxes with hand blown glass jugs inside.   These are all extremely rare pieces. 


Salesman sample "Glass Coffin" dating from 1920's.   Very rare example with hand etching on lid and  original lace interior.  A full size adult glass coffin is on display at National Funeral Service Museum in Houston, Texas and has 2-4 inch thick poured glass sides and lid.   


Exceptional example of late 1800's to early 1900's cloth covered wooden coffin with all appropriate hardware and name plate.  Six wheeled "church truck" is also era correct for coffin

Very rare example of glass topped embalming table.   Probably pre-1920's era.  Glass was poured and shows rippling with brass tubing framework.   Another example of a glass embalming table is at National Funeral Service Museum in Houston, Texas, but it does not have a headrest.   Small set of embalming instruments probably date from same time period.. 

Another exceptional item from collection is this complete gravity flow embalming funnel with adjustable stand, porcelain shelves and porcelain instrument tray.  Embalming fluid was mixed in glass funnel and pressure was increased or decreased by moving funnel up or down on stand.   Item would probably date from 1920's through 1940's. 

An oddity of collection are these pallbearer "extension" bars that date from 1940s-1950s.  Curved "hook" of bar was placed under casket handle and then braced against side of casket for pallbearers to have more leverage to lift.   I've talked with a funeral director in Missouri that used these in his funeral home.   They didn't last long.    

Casket biers or stands were used extensively from late 1800's through early 1900's to display casket or coffin on during times of visitation, generally at family's home.  Of several sets of antique casket biers in collection the pair of Victorian era oak biers , shown at top, are perhaps the rarest and most beautiful.   Most of the sets are covered in black hammer cloth with nickel plated adornments.  Examples of hammer cloth covered biers can be seen in other photos.  A few of the sets have original oil cloth covers and/or wood shipping containers. 

One of the finest pieces of funeral equipment in collection is this complete, never used, pristine example of an embalmer's grip or embalming kit issued by the Dodge Chemical Company in late 1940's.  Original dated newspaper packing material and letter and documentation identifying the embalmer it was sold to are included.  Another amazing piece of funeral history we have been fortunate to acquire.  

Specialized hardware and lamp/light fixtures have always been used on funeral carriages and cars to set them apart from everyday vehicles.   The above represent a sampling of various hearse hardware and lighting from collection. 

Memorial record tubes, placed within caskets prior to interment, have been used for decades.   Parchment documents filled out with biographical information of deceased was inserted in the tubes.   On rare occasion when future identification might be required, information provided on documents can prove an invaluable resource.   Top two photos show very rare, and very large Marcellus Casket Company memorial record tubes with original presentation boxes.   Bottom photo shows Marcellus record tubes in sharp contrast with two generations of Belmont Casket Company memorial record tubes and presentation boxes.   As a comparison, today's Batesville Casket Company record tubes are less than half the size of smallest Belmont tube.   These are pristine examples from companies that no longer exist.     

While not part of collection, we felt it worth noting the truly amazing re-creation of Abraham Lincoln's coffin that the funeral home has brought in for display during past open house events held over the Memorial Day and Spring Fest weekend.   This exact replica of Lincoln's coffin was on loan to us from Batesville Casket Company of Batesville, Indiana.   Many attendees were moved to tears as Civil War era music played in the background for this very somber and emotional display.   Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865.   His funeral procession lasted more than two weeks traveling by train 1654 miles through many towns before arriving May 3, 1865 for his burial in Springfield, Illinois.   Early methods of embalming began during Civil War period were used on President Lincoln, facilitating lengthy time period from death until interment.   

Collection also contains many examples of vintage trade publications, supply catalogs and books dating back to late 1800's.   One of our most prized pieces is this March 31, 1864 first printing of Soldier's National Cemetery Gettysburg book.   A select committee report of Gettysburg Cemetery, detailing each soldier buried within the sacred grounds and much information printed for the first time, including a complete report of Lincoln's visit and famed "Gettysburg Address" given on November 19, 1863.   We feel this is a priceless piece of American history.