Allegheny Parade Hat

Description
Beginning in the late 18th century, some volunteer fire fighters began to wear hats painted with their company’s name to identify themselves at chaotic fire scenes. During the 19th century, these fire hats became more ornate, as portraits of historical figures, patriotic scenes, allegorical images, or company icons were painted alongside the company’s name, motto, or founding date. Made of pressed felt, these “stove-pipe” hats were primarily used in Philadelphia, but other nearby cities such as Baltimore and Washington adopted them as well. Fire hats were personal items with the owner’s initials often painted on the top of the hat. While these hats were worn at fires, they are more colloquially known as “parade hats.” Fire companies commonly marched in the many parades of the period and these ornate hats contributed to the visual culture of their day. These distinguishing features in a company’s regalia often proclaimed the members’ cultural and political identity as well as their position on contested topics such as work, religion and immigration.
This hat dates to the first half of the 19th century from Allegheny, Pennsylvania. The hat has been painted red, and bears the text “ALLEGHENY” in gold above a United States shield. The date “1802” is painted in gold on the back of the hat, and the crown of the hat has a star shaped designed with the letter “A” in the center. The Allegheny Fire Company of Allegheny, Pennsylvania was founded in 1802 and operated until 1870, when it was absorbed by the municipal fire department.
Location
Currently not on view
in use
1802-1870
company which the hat's owner belonged to
Allegheny Engine Co.
owner
Neel, Harry
maker
unknown
place made
United States
location of fire company
United States: Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh
Physical Description
fabric, pressed felt (overall material)
star (top motif)
red (overall color)
black (underbrim color)
paint (overall material)
gold (lettering and decoration color)
painted (overall production method/technique)
Measurements
overall: 5 3/4 in x 13 1/8 in x 14 1/4 in; 14.605 cm x 33.3375 cm x 36.195 cm
ID Number
2005.0233.0026
catalog number
2005.0233.0026
accession number
2005.0233
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
subject
Fire Fighting
Fraternal Associations
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Cultures & Communities
Work
Clothing & Accessories
Art
Fire Hats
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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