Presentation Trumpet, "Washington Engine Co."

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 presentation trumpet belonged to the Washington Engine Company of Paterson, New Jersey during the early 19th century. The trumpet is engraved with a floral motif overall. Two twigs form a frame around the inscription that reads “Washington Engine Co. No. 3 Paterson, N.J. Organized July 4, 1826.” A gold braided cord with tassels is strung through two rings that are attached to the trumpet’s shaft.
Currently not on view
Object Name
trumpet, speaking
date made
ca 1826
Physical Description
silver plated (overall material)
overall: 19 in x 7 in; 48.26 cm x 17.78 cm
place made
United States
Associated Place
United States: New Jersey, Paterson
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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