Helmet Frontpiece, "Wannalanget Malden"

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 by William H. Wilson Manufacturing Company located at 135 Bowery Street, New York, New York around 1885. The black leather shields has golden leather lettering on a dark red background that reads “WANNALANGET/1/MALDEN/CEM.”
Currently not on view
Object Name
frontpiece, helmet
date made
ca 1885
Wilson, William H.
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 7 1/2 in x 6 in; 19.05 cm x 15.24 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Firefighting Collection
Helmet Frontpieces
Clothing & Accessories
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Firefighting Collection
Helmet Frontpieces
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

Visitor Comments

12/11/2014 2:10:39 PM
Len Dunn
This helmet front belonged to Charles E. Mann, who's name first appears in the journal of the Wannalancet Steam Fire Engine company, on May 1, 1871 with his age 23. On May 27, 1871 he was elected into membership at a special meeting of the company, held at their quarters on Pleasant St near Middlesex St. Mr. Mann was elected Clerk of the Wannalancet steam fire engine company, on May 5, 1873 . Mr. Mann remained in this position until He was granted an Honorable discharge from the W.S.F.E. Co. # 1 on December 12, 1877. The age of the front is probably a decade earlier than is reported.
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