Via Kuriositas, this was a must-have for personal security during the height of the Victorian corpse-snatching era:
Medical students in the United Kingdom of the nineteenth century faced a quandary. They had been accustomed to using the corpses of executed criminals to study anatomy. However, the annual demand for bodies to dissect by the growing medical profession surpassed ten times that number. A thriving and historically infamous bodysnatching trade arose. However, those mourning the loss of a loved one soon developed a weapon against this: the mortsafe.
First made around 1816, the mortsafe was ingenious: a complex of iron rods and plates descending in to the ground and rising above it.
If this seems like a great length to go to, there was good reason. Grave robbers were crafty and would go to even greater lengths to retrieve a corpse from its coffin. It wasn’t, as you might imagine, a straightforward case of sneaking in to the graveyard and digging the deceased up at the dead of night. One popular method was to dig a manhole about twenty feet away from the grave.
The age of the mortsafe [ended when] the government of the day passed the Anatomy Act of 1832. This allowed for any unclaimed bodies (or indeed those donated or willed both pre or post-mortem) to be used in the pursuit of anatomic knowledge. This effectively ended the trade in body snatching.
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