Fire Helmet, "NIAGARA 5 WE WILL TRY NASHUA O.M.F. 19"

Description
The traditional American leather firefighter’s helmet with its distinctive long rear brim, frontpiece, and crest adornment was first developed around 1821-1836 in New York City. Henry T. Gratacap, a New York City luggage maker by trade, is often credited as the developer of this style of fire helmet. Gratacap created a specially treated leather helmet with a segmented “comb” design that led to unparalleled durability and strength. The elongated rear brim (also known as a duckbill or beavertail) and frontpiece were 19th century innovations that remain the most identifiable feature of firefighter’s helmets. The body of the helmet was primarily designed to deflect falling debris, the rear brim prevented water from running down firefighters’ backs, and their sturdy crowns could aid, if necessary, in breaking windows.
This leather fire helmet was made in the mid-19th century and used in Nashua, New Hampshire by the Niagara Fire Company No. 5. The helmet has a yellow-painted frontpiece that features Niagara’s company motto “We Will Try” over “Niagara 5” in gold. The helmet is painted black with gold scroll designs around the crown, and the text “NASHUA” painted in gold on the rear brim. The helmet’s eagle frontpiece holder is leather and runs from the front to back of the helmet’s crown.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
helmet, fire
date made
ca 1860
maker
unknown
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
green (overall color)
Measurements
overall: 14 5/8 in x 11 1/2 in x 9 1/4 in; 37.1475 cm x 29.21 cm x 23.495 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
2005.0233.0177
accession number
2005.0233
catalog number
2005.0233.0177
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Work
Clothing & Accessories
Fire Helmets
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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