Helmet Frontpiece, “Vigilant 6 Steam Fire Co.”

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 United States around 1875. There is a large shield-shaped recess in the center of the frontpiece with a large white number “6” inside. One banner at the top of the frontpiece and two at the bottom contain white leather lettering that reads “VIGILANT/STEAM/FIRE Co.”
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1875
maker
unknown
place made
United States
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 8 in x 5 in; 20.32 cm x 12.7 cm
ID Number
2005.0233.1494
accession number
2005.0233
catalog number
2005.0233.1494
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Work
Clothing & Accessories
Firefighting Collection
Helmet Frontpieces
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

Comments

"This helmet shield is from Vigilant Engine Company #6 from Paterson N.J.. Vigilant #6 was founded organized January 1, 1867, they were given the hand operated engine previously used by Eng. Co. #1. The Paterson N.J. Volunteer F.D. started operations on July 4, 1815 and is now a paid F.D. with 13 companies."

Add a comment about this object