Philadelphia Insurance Company 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 Philadelphia Insurance Company issued this fire mark for policy number 9 to a building on 29-31 Saint Mary’s Street (now Rodman Street, near Sixth Street) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1804. The mark consists of the image of a dove with an olive branch in its beak alighting upon a hand. This hollow-backed lead image is attached to a wooden shield-shaped board. This mark is the only Philadelphia Insurance Company fire mark known to be in existence. The Philadelphia Insurance Company was founded in 1804 and disbanded in 1844.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
1804
maker
unknown
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
lead (overall material)
Measurements
shield: 16 1/4 in x 11 5/8 in; 41.275 cm x 29.5275 cm
eagle: 9 3/4 in x 8 in x 1 in; 24.765 cm x 20.32 cm x 2.54 cm
ID Number
2005.0233.0435
accession number
2005.0233
catalog number
2005.0233.0435
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
subject
Fire Fighting
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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