Back in the 1800s, medical care was such an inexact science that there was a real fear that you could be buried alive.
Newspapers in Europe and the United States published stories of people who had been wrongly buried after doctors couldn’t tell the difference between death and comas or trances. It was so common that Antoine Wiertz depicted supposedly dead cholera patients who had been buried in his painting “The Premature Burial,” pictured below.
As fear spread, Count Michel de Karnice-Karnicki patented a special “safety coffin” with a variety of extra features intended to free people from six feet under.
The coffin was called Le Karnice, and it was set up to provide assistance to anyone who was buried alive, even if they were still in a trance. Full of literal bells and whistles to attract attention, along with spring-loaded release mechanisms triggered by movement, the Count’s coffin was the ultimate precaution against premature burial.