Presentation Trumpet, "George W. Erb"

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 plated trumpet was presented to George W. Erb of the New York City Fire Department during the second half of the 19th century. The horn is engraved with floral and foliage designs and features an oval cartouche with the inscription “Presented / to / Captain George W. Erb / by the / Ladies of St. Rose's Fair.” Two small fire hats with rings are attached to the shaft, which allowed a cord to be strung from the rings. Erb was promoted to the position of foreman and assigned to the Hook and Ladder Company No. 7 of the New York City Fire Department.
Currently not on view
Object Name
trumpet, speaking
date made
19th century
Physical Description
silver plated (overall mateiral)
overall: 21 3/4 in x 10 in; 55.245 cm x 25.4 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Cultures & Communities
Firefighting Collection
Speaking Trumpets
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
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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