West of England Fire and Life Insurance Company Fire Mark

Description (Brief)
Beginning in the late 17th century, English insurance companies maintained private fire brigades that were paid to respond to fires at properties they insured. Properties were identified by leaden badges (fire marks) bearing a insurance company’s emblem and often stamped with the customer’s policy number.
The West of England Fire and Life Insurance Company of Exeter, England issued this copper fire mark sometime between 1807 and 1894. The oval mark has a central image of King Alfred holding a sword and scepter, with a shield leaning against him. The West of England Fire and Life Insurance Company was founded in 1807 when a fire destroyed two-thirds of the houses in a town near Exeter, and started issuing policies in 1808. The company expanded into London in 1825, and by 1852 it was the sixth-largest insurance company in England.
Currently not on view
Object Name
fire mark
date made
Physical Description
copper (overall material)
overall: 7 7/8 in x 9 5/8 in; 20.0025 cm x 24.4475 cm
place made
United Kingdom: England
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Fire Fighting
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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