Fire Association of Philadelphia 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 Fire Association of Philadelphia issued this cast iron fire mark around 1820. The Fire Association’s fire mark consisted of a raised image of an early fire hydrant with gushing hose attached, flanked by the letters F.A. in the center of an oval. The F.A. adopted a fireplug as their symbol to celebrate the contribution of Philadelphia's innovative public water system to their mission of fighting fire. The Fire Association of Philadelphia was an insurance company founded in 1817 by a group of eleven volunteer engine companies and five volunteer hose companies. A percentage of the Fire Association’s insurance company’s profits were distributed to the volunteer companies. The F.A. fire mark was extremely popular, and an estimated 40,000 fire marks were issued during the company’s history. The Fire Association operated until 1958, when it merged with the Reliance Insurance Company of Philadelphia.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1820
maker
unknown
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Physical Description
cast iron (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 7 15/16 in x 11 1/2 in; 20.16125 cm x 29.21 cm
ID Number
2005.0233.0393
accession number
2005.0233
catalog number
2005.0233.0393
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
subject
Insurance
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Work
Cultures & Communities
Advertising
Firefighting Collection
Fire Marks
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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