Presentation 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 brass presentation speaking trumpet dates to the 19th century. While made to be a presentation trumpet, it bears no engravings and was never used as such. The shaft of the trumpet has a scaled pattern with a floral band at the top and bottom of the shaft. The bell has two engravings of a work helmet surrounded by a garland on opposite sides of the bell, and circular cartouches that are surrounded by crossed hooks, ladders, and fire lamps on opposite sides of the bell. One of the cartouches has an engraving of a steam engine while the other is blank, presumably for a personalized inscription. A braided blue cord is strung through two rings attached to the trumpet’s shaft.
Currently not on view
Object Name
trumpet, speaking
date made
Physical Description
treble plate on brass (overall material)
overall: 21 1/2 in x 9 1/8 in; 54.61 cm x 23.1775 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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