Fire Engine Plate, "Phoenix"

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 metal plate was used by the Phoenix Fire Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the early 19th century. The Phoenix Fire Company was located on St. James Street in Philadelphia and operated from 1808 until 1821. The arched metal plate is engraved and filled with black enamel with the word “PHŒNIX” written in a shadowed font. Stylized sun designs surround the holes at either end of the plate.
Currently not on view
Object Name
plate, fire engine
date made
19th century
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 1 in x 9 in; 2.54 cm x 22.86 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
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

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