Helmet Frontpiece, “Northern Liberty Hose"

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 Northern Liberty leather frontpiece was manufactured between 1860 and 1880. The frontpiece originally had white lettering that read “NORTHERN LIBERTY/HOSE” but many of the letters are now missing. The center of the shield is a faded painted image of Lady Liberty leaning against the shield of the United States, with a pole in her left hand with a liberty cap on top. The Northern Liberty Hose Company was founded in 1828 in the Northern Liberty neighborhood of Philadelphia. The same image of Lady Liberty can be seen an earlier Northern Liberty parade hat seen in object number 2005.0233.0073.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1860-1880
place made
United States
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 7 in x 6 in; 17.78 cm x 15.24 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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