Helmet Frontpiece, "Hope Steam Fire Co. 17"

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 white leather frontpiece has three red banners with raised white leather letters that originally read “HOPE/STEAM FIRE Co./JHL,” but some of the letters are now missing. A large black number “17” is in the center of the frontpiece. The letters “JHL” likely referred to the owner’s initials.
Currently not on view
Associated Place
United States: New York, Queens, Long Island City
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 8 in x 4 in; 20.32 cm x 10.16 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