Helmet Frontpiece, "New York Volunteer Sons Association"

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 in the late 19th century. The brown frontpiece has two red banners with raised white leather lettering that reads “NY/VOLUNTEER.”The center of the piece has the text “SONS” in raised red leather lettering. At the bottom of the piece is two banners with white lettering that reads “ASSOCIATION/JJS.” The New York Volunteer Firemen’s Sons’ Association was founded for "the promotion of friendly feelings and social intercourse, to provide a headquarters for the transaction of business connected with the association, together with a reading room where members can meet and extend the friendship now existing among their father…and to allow members of the association, under proper restrictions, to provide a uniform to represent the association in all public parades, etc.”
Currently not on view
place made
United States
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 8 in; 20.32 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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