Helmet Frontpiece, “Duquesne 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 was made by the William H. Wilson Manufacturing Company located at 135 Bowery Street, New York, New York between 1895 and 1900. The dark brown leather frontpiece has a banner at the top with soiled white leather letters that read “DUQUESNE.” There are two small recessed cutouts at the bottom of the frontpiece with the leather initials “FA” inside. This likely stands for "Fire Association". This frontpiece may come from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Currently not on view
date made
Wilson, William H.
place made
United States
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 8 in x 4 3/4 in; 20.32 cm x 12.065 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