Fire Engine Plate, "Stephen Thayer"

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 was attached to a fire engine made by Stephen Thayer from Boston, Massachusetts. Thayer operated his business from 1811 to 1861 producing a variety of fire engines and other machine parts. The brass plate is engraved with the text “Stephen Thayer/Maker/Boston, Mass./1838.” The plate has been mounted on a rectangular wooden board with four screws in the plate’s scalloped corners.
Currently not on view
Object Name
plate, fire engine
date made
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
brass (part material)
part: plate: 4 1/2 in x 7 1/2 in; 11.43 cm x 19.05 cm
part: board: 6 in x 8 1/2 in; 15.24 cm x 21.59 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

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.