Helmet Frontpiece, “Massachusetts 1 CFR”

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 black leather frontpiece has an arching banner at the top with raised tan leather lettering that reads “MASSACHUSETTS.” The center of the piece has a large leather number “1,” with a leather hook and ladder crossed behind it. At the bottom is a recessed cartouche with the raised tan leather initials “CFR” inside.
Currently not on view
date made
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 8 1/4 in x 4 1/4 in; 20.955 cm x 10.795 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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