Helmet Frontpiece, “Secretary Hose 3”

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 has two black banners at the top flanked by stars. Raised tan leather letters read “SECRETARY/HOSE.” A large recessed black number “3” is in the center and the piece has decorative stitching throughout. At the bottom of the frontpiece is a recessed cartouche with a black background with the tan leather letter “D” inside. Two initials originally preceded the “D” in the cartouche, but are now missing.
Currently not on view
Object Name
frontpiece, helmet
date made
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 10 in x 5 in; 25.4 cm x 12.7 cm
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

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.