Fire Department’s Insurance Company

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 Department’s Insurance Company of Cincinnati, Ohio produced this fire mark in 1837. The rectangular cast iron fire mark features a raised central image of a double-decker hand pumped fire engine. The entire mark has been painted red. The Fire Department’s Insurance Company was established in 1837 when the volunteer fire engine companies in Cincinnati started an insurance company for the benefit of the department. Each fireman could hold only 50 shares personally, and each fire company could hold no more that 1,500 shares though its individual members or by itself. Ten percent of the dividend was given to the Fire Association of Cincinnati to create a fund for the relief of sick or disabled firemen. The company remained in business until around 1848.
Currently not on view
Object Name
fire mark
date made
Physical Description
cast iron (overall material)
overall: 6 1/8 in x 7 15/16 in; 15.5575 cm x 20.16125 cm
place made
United States: Ohio, Cincinnati
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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

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