Fire Badge "J.C.F.D 71"

This Maltese cross shaped metal fire badge belonged to a member of the fire department of Jersey City, New Jersey. The cross has an image of a crossed hook and ladder on the left arm, the initials “J.C.F.D.” on the upper arm, an image of a steam engine on the right arm, and the number “71” in raised metal on the lower arm. The center of the badge is decorated with the state seal of New Jersey. The seal depicts the female figures of Liberty holding her liberty cap and pole and Ceres (goddess of grain) holding a cornucopia. The figures flank a shield with three plows representing the importance of agriculture, topped by a horse’s head facing left representing speed and strength. The Jersey City Fire Department was organized as a paid municipal fire department in 1871.
Metal firefighter’s badges were a part of the firefighter’s uniform since volunteer companies began to proliferate in the early 19th century. As volunteer companies gave way to municipal fire departments during the mid–19th century, these badges became mandated by uniform codes. Badges served as official identification at fire scenes, as access to derelict buildings by unscrupulous citizens could result in looting. Fire badges came in a variety of shapes, most notably circular, shield–shaped, or the Maltese cross. While shield–shaped badges were often worn on the chest, circular and cross-shaped badges can be seen on jacket lapels or soft caps. Badges usually detailed the company’s name, number and department, and were often decorated with various symbols of the profession such as hose carriages, hand–pumped engines, hoses, trumpets, helmets, hooks, and ladders. For paid municipal companies, many badges also featured the badge number of the wearer.
Currently not on view
Object Name
badge, fireman's
date made
late 19th century
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 2 1/8 in; 5.3975 cm
place made
United States
associated place
United States: New Jersey
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Firefighting Collection
Fire Badges
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Fire Badges
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

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