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 around 1848. This oblong oval cast iron fire mark features a raised central image of a double-decker hand pumped fire engine, with a border text that reads “FIRE DEPARTMENT/INSURANCE.” 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
date made
ca 1848
place made
United States: Ohio, Cincinnati
Physical Description
cast iron (overall material)
overall: 7 3/4 in x 11 11/16 in; 19.685 cm x 29.68625 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Cultures & Communities
Firefighting Collection
Fire Marks
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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