Helmet Frontpiece, "John S. Damrell"

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 leather frontpiece was made around 1873. The brown frontpiece had gold lettering that reads “John S. Damrell/11/JMN.” The Engine Company No. 11 in the Boston Fire Department was named after former Boston Fire Department Chief John S. Damrell from 1869-1873. The initials “JMN” likely referred to Josiah M. Nottage, a hoseman with the Engine Company No. 11 who served from 1873 until 1894.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1873
place made
North America
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 7 1/2 in x 5 1/2 in; 19.05 cm x 13.97 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


Add a comment about this object