Came across an interesting article. After reading about yet another expensive underworld funeral where a gangster was planted in a coffin costing between $15,000 and $20,000 a reporter did some investigating. Do caskets really cost that much? The answer he found was, no. Most coffins went for $400-$600 in rare cases up to $3000.
According to those in the funeral biz, there was no such thing as a solid silver casket, apparently the material of choice, for the simple reason that silver, being silver, is valuable and A)no one is gonna tie up that kind of dough in the hopes that someone walks in off the street looking to buy a solid silver box. and B) The amount of silver needed to make a coffin would be worth more than $10-$20K.
According to grim retailers the most expensive overcoat was a cast bronze that went for twelve thou and these went to moguls and tycoons of the legitimate sort not gunslinging alky pushers who liked their cans nice and shiny.
The fact that silver caskets didn't exist didn't stop the big boys from buying them however. Here's how the racket worked.
Tommy Salami Huntero gets drilled. His boys are determined to send him off in style. They enter Zacherly Funeral home and say "See that Tommy gets the best." The staff says "Of course" they take a silver metal casing, which they either own or rent from another undertaker, and place it over a cast iron coffin. Tommy Salami is laid out in a big flashy box, all his boys get to see their reflections while paying their respects, one sees a reporter he knows from a speak and says, "See that, solid silver. $20,000 that cost." and it did. But later when everybody is gone. The silver case is lifted off and Tommy goes six feet deep in a potato crate that is actual worth 400 clams. Zacherly & Co. laugh all the way to the bank and wait for the next gang war.
A quick look to see who the crooked undertakers may have undertook:
Giuseppi Piraino said to have been buried in $7000 German Silver casket. Depending on what German silver is/was he may be a victim
Danny Iamascia $10,000 casket make unknown
Frankie Uale $10,000 casket make unknown
Frankie Yale ditto
Frankie Iole ibid
Is the casket racket true? Let's get some shovels and find out.