Speaking 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 nickel-plated brass trumpet was used in the United States during the 19th century. The trumpet has three rounded bands around its shaft. A braided red cord with tassels is strung through the two rings protruding from the upper and lower bands of the trumpet.
Currently not on view
Object Name
trumpet, speaking
date made
Physical Description
nickel-plated brass (overall material)
overall: 17 in x 6 1/2 in; 43.18 cm x 16.51 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Cultures & Communities
Firefighting Collection
Speaking Trumpets
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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