Presentation Trumpet, "Auburn Fire Dept."

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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 silver soldered presentation trumpet was created by the Gorham Manufacturing Company of Providence, Rhode Island around 1881. The trumpet was presented to the Active Hose Company of Auburn, New York on December 28, 1881. The trumpet features two engravings on the bell. The first is an image of a fire plug with a looping hose protruding. The fire plug is flanked by two axes and 8 fire hooks. The other side is an engraved inscription that reads “AWARDED/ Active Hose Seven/ Competed for by the Auburn/ Fire Dept. at St. Mary's fair, Dec. 28/ 1881.” Fire companies would compete against each other in a variety of activities at public venues such as fairs and musters.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1881
Gorham Manufacturing Company
place made
United States
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
overall: 14 1/4 in x 7 3/4 in; 36.195 cm x 19.685 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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