Helmet Frontpiece, "Veteran Firemen’s 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 metal frontpiece was made by the Jahn and Oliver Engraving Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania around 1895. The front piece is made entirely of metal, with the overlapping monogram “VFA” in brass in the center. The initials “VFA” stands for the Veteran Firemen’s Association, possibly of Philadelphia, that was formed after the volunteer firemen ceased active service in an effort to continue the foster camaraderie among veteran firefighters.
Currently not on view
Object Name
frontpiece, helmet
date made
ca 1895
Jahn and Oliver Engraving Company
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
gold (part: monogram material)
overall: 8 1/2 in x 6 in; 21.59 cm x 15.24 cm
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
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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