Presentation Trumpet, "Thomas Baird"

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 brass trumpet was likely made during the late 19th century. The trumpet is decorated with an elaborate floral repoussé pattern. The center of the shaft has four raised images on each quadrant of the trumpet, two flaming torches on opposite sides, a fire helmet, and a fire hydrant. There are two rings protruding from the shaft that allowed a cord to be attached. The trumpet’s bell has two large cartouches on opposite sides. One contains an engraved image of a man driving a pair of horses pulling a steam engine. The other contains the inscription “Presented to/ Thomas Baird/ Assistant Engineer/ LVFD/ by his/ Intimate Friends.” There is also an engraving of two crossed ladders behind a shield-shaped cartouche on opposite sides of the bell.
Currently not on view
Object Name
trumpet, speaking
date made
Physical Description
brass, silver plated (overall material)
overall: 22 in; 55.88 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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