Presentation Trumpet, "Fire Dept. Guard of Paterson, NJ"

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 the Passaic Steam Fire Engine Company of Paterson, New Jersey by Archie Graham in 1881. The trophy in engraved with a general floral motif. The upper section features an engraving of a fire helmet with several spears behind it, surrounded by a floral garland. The bell has an engraved image of a steam-powered fire engine and a hook and ladder truck. The center section has an inscription framed in an oval cartouche that reads “Presented by/ Archie Graham/ Competed for by/ Fire Dept. Guard/ of Paterson, N.J./ Won by/ Passaic S.F.E. Co. No. 1/ Nov. 24th 1881/ TEAM/ Henry Schoonmaker/ Michael Carney/ Robert Downie/ Thomas McLean.” The Passaic Fire Engine Company was founded on July 4th, 1815 and was named after the river than runs through Paterson.
Currently not on view
Object Name
trumpet, speaking
date made
ca 1881
Physical Description
silver plated (overall material)
overall: 21 1/2 in x 9 1/2 in; 54.61 cm x 24.13 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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