Helmet Frontpiece, "Empire 1"

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 manufactured by Anderson & Jones of New York, New York around 1875. The frontpiece has the image of an eagle painted at the top, with the word “EMPIRE” painted in white below the eagle. A large white leather number “1” is in the center, with a crossed hook and ladder behind it, also in leather. A cartouche at the bottom of the frontpiece originally bore raised leather initials (possibly “CMM”), but those are now missing.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1875
Anderson & Jones
place made
United States
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 7 1/2 in x 6 1/2 in; 19.05 cm x 16.51 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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