Presentation Trumpet, "Garrett Bell"

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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 speaking trumpet was presented by the Harry Howard Hose Company of New York City to its last volunteer foreman in 1865. The trumpet has an engraved floral design with several raised floral patterns throughout. There is a cartouche on the bell that contains an engraved image of a hose reel. A cartouche along the shaft contains the inscription “Presented to Garrett Bell foreman of Harry Howard Hose Co. No. 55 by the members Jan. 1st 1865.” A braided blue cord with tassels is attached to the trumpet through protruding rings. The Harry Howard Hose Company, formed in 1853, was named for the famous Chief Engineer of the New York City volunteers. Garrett Bell was the last foreman of the company when it disbanded as part of the creation of the paid municipal city system in 1865.
Currently not on view
date made
place made
United States
Physical Description
silver plate on brass (overall material)
overall: 19 3/4 in x 8 in; 50.165 cm x 20.32 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
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


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