Helmet Frontpiece, "Hydraulion Steam Fire Engine Company 3"

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 Cairns & Brother of New York, New York around 1875. Two red banners are at the top of the frontpiece with raised gold leather lettering that reads “HYDRAULION/SFE Co.” A large black number “3” is in the center, with a black banner at the bottom with raised gold leather initials that reads “CW” with a first initial missing.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1875
maker
Cairns & Brother
place made
United States
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 7 3/4 in x 6 in; 19.685 cm x 15.24 cm
ID Number
2005.0233.1447
accession number
2005.0233
catalog number
2005.0233.1447
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Work
Clothing & Accessories
Firefighting Collection
Helmet Frontpieces
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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