Penn 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 Penn Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania issued this fire mark in 1841. The mark consists of a two dimensional bust of William Penn cast in relief, who is depicted wearing a tricorne hat, cravat, and jacket. Underneath the bust is a crescent-shaped banner that reads “INSURED” in raised block text. The bust is painted gold, and the text is painted brown. The Penn Insurance Company operated from 1841 until 1845, closing after the great fire in Pittsburgh in April of 1845.
Currently not on view
date made
Physical Description
cast iron (overall material)
overall: 14 1/2 in x 11 1/2 in; 36.83 cm x 29.21 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
Fire Fighting
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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