Fire Engine Plate, "Vigilant"

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 engine plate features the text “VIGILANT” above the number “3” engraved and filled with black enamel. There is a fancy filigree design above the arch and shield of the plate, and holes on the sides where the plate was attached to an engine.
Currently not on view
Object Name
plate, fire engine
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
overall: 10 1/2 in x 5 3/4 in; 26.67 cm x 14.605 cm
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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