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 lead fire mark around 1857. The Fire Association’s fire mark consisted of a raised image of an early fire hydrant with 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.
Currently not on view
Object Name
fire mark
date made
ca 1857
Physical Description
lead (overall material)
overall: 7 5/8 in x 11 1/2 in; 19.3675 cm x 29.21 cm
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Fire Fighting
Cultures & Communities
Firefighting Collection
Fire Marks
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
Related Publication
McCosker, M.J.. The Historical Collection of Insurance Company of North America

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.