Helmet Frontpiece, "Hercules 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 black leather frontpiece was made during the 19th century. The frontpiece has a red banner at the top with raised white leather lettering that reads “HERCULES.” A small red leather star is above a large white number “3” in the center of the frontpiece. A cartouche with a green background is at the bottom of the frontpiece.
Currently not on view
Object Name
frontpiece, helmet
date made
19th century
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 8 in x 3 1/4 in; 20.32 cm x 8.255 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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