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 Joseph Cobby, S. Liberty Street, Baltimore, Maryland, on March 16, 1840. The cast iron mark features a raised image of two clasped hands with linked chain cuffs on a square background. The mark has remnants of red paint on it, with the policy number “16675” painted in gold at the bottom. 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.
Currently not on view
date made
Physical Description
cast iron (overall material)
overall: 10 in x 10 1/2 in; 25.4 cm x 26.67 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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