Work Trumpet, "Pawtucket Fire Ward"

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 early 19th century. The horn has been painted white with a red semi-circle on the horn. A black number “1” with a black circle around it has been painted on the shaft of the horn. The bell has gold painted text that reads “Fire Ward/ G.L.S./ Pawtucket/ R.I.”
Currently not on view
Object Name
trumpet, speaking
date made
early 19th century
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
tole ware (overall material)
overall: 14 in x 6 in; 35.56 cm x 15.24 cm
place made
United States
Associated Place
United States: Rhode Island, Pawtucket
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
Additional Media

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