Work Trumpet, "Assistant Foreman"

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Description (Brief)
As more American volunteer fire fighting companies began to form during the late 18th century, a need emerged for better organized efforts in combating conflagrations. Engineers and officers would use “speaking trumpets” to amplify their voices over the noise and commotion of a fire scene to direct the company in effectively fighting the blaze. Two trumpet variants are reflected in the collection: plain and functional “working” trumpets that were actively used at fires, and highly decorated “presentation” trumpets. Presentation trumpets were awarded to firefighters in honor of their service, or between fire companies during visits, competitions, and musters.
This painted tin speaking trumpet was used in active duty during the late 18th or early 19th century. The small trumpet is painted white with a black number “2” shadowed in red on the shaft. The word ASSISt: FOREMAN" is painted in black with red shadow around the trumpet’s bell. There are two small rings along the shaft that would allow for a strap to be attached. Trumpets were often a symbol of authority at a fire scene, and this trumpet was used by a company’s assistant foreman.
Currently not on view
place made
United States
Physical Description
tin (overall material)
overall: 13 in x 4 in; 33.02 cm x 10.16 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Cultures & Communities
Firefighting Collection
Speaking Trumpets
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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