(January 2009) The coming years may show an increase in trade for tombstones in Poland as is pointed out by the professional journal Nowy Kamieniarz. The cause can be found in the communists’ economy of scarcity. A general shortage of natural stone lead to the use of terrazzo or concrete in the production of tombstones.
These tombstones are showing considerable damage, or in some cases even decay and require repair or replacement. Presumably, surviving loved-ones will replace the faulty ones for natural stone grave markers. Whereas the value of terrazzo was merely one fifth that of natural stone, there is no real price advantage anymore due to low-cost products from India and China according to the journal.
Nowy Kamieniarz examined materials used in the production of gravestones in three different towns. The findings show that of tombstones produced between 1961 and 1970 fully „one quarter require immediate repair“ as can be read in issue 36 (7/2008). With this the authors mean restoration of deep cracks, disintegration or similar serious damage.
Regarding the decade 1971 to 1980 the damage was less serious as could be expected. Nevertheless, the authors expect fully two thirds of the tombstones to require attention or repair „immediately or in the near future“”. Even the gravestones and tombs dating from 1981 to 1990 showed „visible damage in overall appearance“.
The gravestones and tombs dating back to the 60’s and earlier were in the worst condition. Often the surface of the grave had collapsed as can be observed when a wooden coffin disintegrates some time after interment.
The authors challenge local masons to actively use this opening in the market instead of passively waiting for the heirs and loved-ones to seek assistance. The suggestion is to provide models of successful restoration. Masons could also arrange for special offers to draw attention to the need and solution.
By the way, the few natural stone tombs stemming from communist times were „undamaged“ according to the findings. The stone tables are usually 5 or 6 cm strong.
Photos: Nowy Kamieniarz