Helmet Frontpiece, “Deptford 4”

Description (Brief)
The frontpiece (also known as shield or badge) of firefighting helmets has been a distinctive part of the American firefighter’s uniform since its present shape was developed by Henry Gratacap in the early 19th century. These frontpieces typically served to identify the helmet’s owner; detailing the wearer’s initials or their position in the company, the name and number of the company, the type of firefighting unit, or the name of the town where the company was based. Most protective helmets had frontpieces made of leather, but helmets that were presentation pieces or worn during parades could feature metal frontpieces.
This metal frontpiece was made in the 19th century. The frontpiece is made of nickel and reads “DEPTFORD/4” in brass lettering. The Deptford Fire Company No. 4 was founded in 1792 and operated in Baltimore, Maryland during the 19th century.
Currently not on view
Object Name
frontpiece, helmet
date made
19th century
Physical Description
nickel (overall material)
zinc (overall material)
brass (part: letters material)
overall: 7 3/4 in x 6 1/4 in; 19.685 cm x 15.875 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Helmet Frontpieces
Firefighting Collection
Clothing & Accessories
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Firefighting Collection
Helmet Frontpieces
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

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