"We Lend a Helping Hand" Engine Panel Painting

We Lend a Helping Hand was the motto of the Americus No.6 Company, which operated in New York, New York from 1848-1865. In addition to their motto, the Americus Company was also often represented by a tiger, or simply by its number, 6. The panel bears all of these representations, wreathed by golden garlands, but leaves out elaborate patriotic imagery or suggestive classical forms. We Lend a Helping Hand represents a more simply designed panel that plainly represented the fire company.
This panel painting belonged to the Americus Company No. 6 of New York, New York which operated from 1848 to 1865. The panel is unsigned, but is attributed to Joseph Hoffman Johnson, a founding member of the Americus Company and artist who painted the company’s famous “Big Six” engine. We Lend a Helping Hand was the motto of the Americus Company, and the painting also bears the company’s number (6) and mascot (Tiger). The panel’s design is notable for the absence of patriotic or neoclassical imagery so prevalent in engine panel paintings. This painting and its companion (2005.0233.0317) would have adorned either side of the company’s engine.
Currently not on view
Object Name
painting, engine panel
date made
Johnson, Joseph Hoffman
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
oil paint (image material)
overall: 16 3/4 in x 14 1/2 in; 42.545 cm x 36.83 cm
Place Made
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Fire Fighting
Cultures & Communities
Firefighting Collection
Engine Panel Paintings
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Engine Panel Paintings
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

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.