Pittsburgh Navigation and Fire 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 Pittsburgh Navigation and Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania issued this cast iron fire mark in 1832. The oval mark has raised text around the rim that reads “PITTSBURGH. NAV. &. FIRE/INSURANCE. CO.” and “INSURED” in the center. The Pittsburgh Navigation and Fire Insurance Company operated from 1832 until 1845 when losses suffered in the Great Fire of Pittsburgh forced it to merge with the Western Insurance Company.
Currently not on view
date made
Physical Description
cast iron (overall material)
overall: 8 15/16 in x 12 7/16 in; 22.70125 cm x 31.59125 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