Fire Engine Plate, "Hunneman & Company"

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.
This brass maker’s plate was originally attached to a fire engine built by Hunneman & Company of Boston, Massachusetts in 1872. The scalloped shield-shaped plate bears the inscribed text “No. 722/HUNNEMAN & CO./Builders/BOSTON/1872.” A plate has been attached over “Boston” that reads “State of / Massachusetts / 612.” The entire plate has been mounted onto a square wooden board. Hunneman & Company was originally founded in Boston in 1792 and was renowned for its hand-pumped apparatus. In 1866, the company built its first steam engine and continued to make a variety of fire engines until 1883.
Currently not on view
Object Name
plate, fire engine
date made
Hunneman and Company
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
overall: 6 1/4 in x 8 1/8 in; 15.875 cm x 20.6375 cm
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Cultures & Communities
Fire Fighting
Firefighting Collection
Fire Engine Plates
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Firefighting Collection
Fire Engine Plates
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

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