Fire Engine Plate, "Howard and Davis"

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 attached to a handtub fire engine made by Howard and Davis of Boston, Massachusetts around 1852. The company was primarily known for manufacturing clocks, but also made fire engines from 1842 to 1857.The rectangular brass plate is engraved with the text “HOWARD & DAVIS/BOSTON/1852” which is mounted on a wooden plaque. The lower right corner of the plate has been chipped off.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1852
Howard & Davis
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 6 3/4 in x 4 in; 17.145 cm x 10.16 cm
part: brass plate: 5 1/2 in x 2 3/4 in; 13.97 cm x 6.985 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
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


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