Baltimore Equitable Society 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 Baltimore Equitable Society of Baltimore, Maryland issued this fire mark to Thomas Mortimer for a two story brick dwelling on the south side of York Street, between Forrest and Goodman Streets, on May 20, 1807. The mark consists of a rectangular wooden board with two iron clasped hands at the top. The Baltimore Equitable Society was founded in 1794 and is still in operation today. The “Sign of the Clasped Hands” fire mark is still available from the Baltimore Equitable Society, and comes in cast aluminum that is painted black overall, with hands and numbering in gold.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
fire mark
date made
1807
maker
unknown
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
cast iron (overall material)
Measurements
board: 10 3/8 in x 12 3/4 in; 26.3525 cm x 32.385 cm
hands: 4 3/4 in x 9 in; 12.065 cm x 22.86 cm
ID Number
2005.0233.0480
accession number
2005.0233
catalog number
2005.0233.0480
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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