Helmet Frontpiece, “Humane Hose 20”

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 in the 19th century. The brown frontpiece has raised brown leather lettering that originally read “HUMANE/HOSE/20/JAB” but some of the letters are now missing. The frontpiece has decorative stitching around the rim, as well as outlining the initials on the bottom of the piece. The Humane Hose Company No. 20 operated in New York City during the middle of the 19th century.
Currently not on view
date made
19th century
place made
United States
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 8 in x 5 3/4 in; 20.32 cm x 14.605 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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