Presentation Trumpet "James McQuire"

Description (Brief)
As more American volunteer fire fighting companies began to form during the late 18th century, a need emerged for better organized efforts in combating conflagrations. Engineers and officers would use “speaking trumpets” to amplify their voices over the noise and commotion of a fire scene to direct the company in effectively fighting the blaze. Two trumpet variants are reflected in the collection: plain and functional “working” trumpets that were actively used at fires, and highly decorated “presentation” trumpets. Presentation trumpets were awarded to firefighters in honor of their service, or between fire companies during visits, competitions, and musters.
This silver plated speaking trumpet was presented to James McQuire, Jr. around 1872. There are two crossed ladders engraved at the top of the shaft, and below this is an oval cartouche formed by a fire hose with an image of a fireman with a speaking trumpet at the center. The inscription reads “Presented to James McQuire, Jr. by the Members of Blackstone Hose Company No. 1, October 5, 1872” and is flanked by two small classical figures in short tunics with trumpets. At each side is a ladder rising from the bell to the shaft, and at the back are two rings for attaching a cord, each in the shape of a fire helmet. The trumpet’s bell is engraved with an image of a hose carriage, which is surrounded by a floral motif. The Blackstone Hose Company was founded in Norwich, Connecticut in 1868 and named for a prominent local businessman and politician, Lorenzo Blackstone.
Currently not on view
Object Name
trumpet, speaking
date made
ca 1872
McQuire, Jr., James
Physical Description
silver plate (overall material)
overall: 19 1/2 in x 8 1/8 in; 49.53 cm x 20.6375 cm
place made
United States
associated place
United States: Connecticut, Norwich
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Fraternal Associations
Fire Fighting
Cultures & Communities
Firefighting Collection
Speaking Trumpets
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Firefighting Collection
Speaking Trumpets
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
McCosker, M.J.. The Historical Collection of the Insurance Company of North America
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.