Presentation Trumpet, "John J. Rowe"

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 John J. Rowe by the Ossining Hose Company of New York in 1886. The trumpet’s bell has engraved images of a hook and ladder truck, a steam engine, a pair of crossed ladders with fire helmet, and a hose reel vehicle all framed inside an oval cartouche. The trumpet’s center section is decorated with a floral motif overall, with an inscription inside a floral garland frame that reads “Presented to/ John J. Rowe/ by/ Ossining Hose Co/ 1886.” The upper section of the trumpet has an engraving of a crossed ladder and bucket. There are two small fire helmets with rings on the trumpet’s shaft, allowing for a cord to be attached to the trumpet.
Currently not on view
Object Name
trumpet, speaking
date made
ca 1886
Physical Description
silver plated (overall material)
overall: 20 in x 8 in; 50.8 cm x 20.32 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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