Fire Engine Plate, "Hibernia"

Description (Brief)
At the core of any fire company is the apparatus used to fight fires and protect lives. This was particularly true of for the volunteer fire fighters in 19th century America. Often purchased with their own funds, their fire engines were the focus of their pride and affection, as well as their identities as fire fighters. Engine plates, often made of brass, would be prominently affixed to engines and inscribed with the company name, number, and founding date. Engine plates could pass from old engine to new, or be kept in the firehouse as a memorial to a departed apparatus.
The bronze engine plate belonged to the Hibernia Fire Engine Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which was established in 1752. The arched plate has the text “HIBERNIA” engraved in wide letters that are filled with black enamel. The reverse is engraved with the text “VIGILANT” in large letters that are filled with black enamel. The sides of the plate have holes showing where the plate would have been attached to the engine. The Hibernia Fire Engine Company was one of Philadelphia’s largest and oldest companies, and used several different engines and apparatus during its history.
Currently not on view
Object Name
plate, fire engine
date made
19th century
Physical Description
bronze (overall material)
overall: 1 1/4 in x 9 3/4 in; 3.175 cm x 24.765 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Fire Fighting
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Cultures & Communities
Firefighting Collection
Fire Engine Plates
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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