Insurance Company of North America Star Fire Mark

Description (Brief)
Beginning in the 1750s, some American insurance companies issued metal fire marks to policyholders to signify that their property was insured against fire damage. The fire marks bore the name and/or symbol of the insurer, and some included the customer’s policy number. The company or agent would then affix the mark to the policyholder’s home or business. For owners the mark served as proof of insurance and a deterrent against arson. For insurance companies the mark served as a form of advertising, and alerted volunteer firefighters that the property was insured.
The Insurance Company of North America issued a wavy six-pointed star as its fire mark from 1794 to 1797. Director’s minutes from an INA meeting show that 100 star fire marks were ordered from Philadelphia artist Robert Haydock, who was paid $133 for his work. These marks were then sold to policy holders for $1.33. A group of influential citizens in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania founded the Insurance Company of North America in 1792. The INA was the first joint stock insurance company in the United States, and focused its business on marine and fire insurance. The Insurance Company of North America and related companies merged with the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company in 1982 to become the CIGNA Corporation. A later sale made INA a part of ACE Holdings, where it still operates today.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
fire mark
date made
1794
maker
unknown
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
sheet lead (overall material)
Measurements
board: 16 1/4 in x 11 3/4 in; 41.275 cm x 29.845 cm
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ID Number
2005.0233.0382
accession number
2005.0233
catalog number
2005.0233.0382
subject
Fire Fighting
Advertising
Work
Cultures & Communities
Firefighting Collection
Fire Marks
Insurance
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Firefighting Collection
Fire Marks
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

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