Helmet Frontpiece, "Snow Drift"

Description (Brief)
The frontpiece (also known as shield or badge) of firefighting helmets has been a distinctive part of the American firefighter’s helmet since it was developed by Henry Gratacap in the early 19th century. These frontpieces displayed a variety of information. The fire company's name and number appeared, often alongside the city or town where it was based. The frontpiece could also include the owner's initials and rank. Most fire helmets had leather frontpieces, but frontpieces could also be made of metal, especially on presentation helmets or those worn in parades.
This black leather frontpiece was made around 1885. The frontpiece has "SNOW DRIFT" in white letters in a banner with a red background at top. A recessed white star is below the top banner. A white "2" with a crossed hook and ladder behind it is at the center. A cut out banner with the black initials "CWW" on a white background is at the bottom of the frontpiece. The initials "CWW" are likely the owner’s initials.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1885
place made
United States
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 8 in x 3 1/2 in; 20.32 cm x 8.89 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Clothing & Accessories
Firefighting Collection
Helmet Frontpieces
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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