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 presentation trumpet was made in the United States during the 19th century. The upper part of the trumpet’s shaft features an engraved fleur de lis pattern. The center part of the trumpet’s shaft has two oval cartouches; one is blank while the other features an engraved image of two crossed fire hooks and ladders. There is a sunburst and floral pattern engraved between the two ovals. The trumpet’s bell has an engraved image of a steam fire engine set inside a floral frame. A repeating floral pattern links to the next floral frame which has an engraved image of a spider-type hose reel inside. A blue cord with tassels is attached to the trumpet through two rings.
Currently not on view
Object Name
trumpet, speaking
date made
overall: 23 3/4 in x 9 1/2 in; 60.325 cm x 24.13 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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