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 produced this fire mark in 1927. The cast iron mark features a raised image of two clasped hands with linked chain cuffs on a square background. The clasped hands are painted gold, with the year “1794” painted in gold at the bottom. The Baltimore Equitable Society of Baltimore, Maryland first produced this fire mark design in 1795. The “Sign of the Clasped Hands” fire mark is still available from the Baltimore Equitable Society, now cast in aluminum that is painted black overall, with hands and numbering in gold.
Currently not on view
Object Name
fire mark
date made
Physical Description
cast iron (overall material)
overall: 10 in x 11 in; 25.4 cm x 27.94 cm
place made
United States: Maryland
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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

Visitor Comments

11/29/2015 9:25:41 AM
Phillip Ritzert
When did the Baltimore Equitable Society start making the Fire Mark in aluminum? Thanks.
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