Toy Trumpet

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 toy speaking trumpet was manufactured during the late 19th century. The trumpet has a braided beige cord that is tied to the trumpet next to the mouthpiece and the bell. The plain silver trumpet has a pseudo hallmark stamped into the shaft. British hallmarks served to denote the maker, date, purity of silver, and other information about a sterling silver piece. The mark on this trumpet does not correlate to any known maker, meaning they were likely done by an undocumented American maker to imitate the British marks.
Currently not on view
Object Name
trumpet, speaking
date made
late 19th century
Physical Description
silver plated (overall material)
overall: 10 3/4 in x 4 1/2 in; 27.305 cm x 11.43 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Firefighting Collection
Cultures & Communities
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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