Helmet Frontpiece, “Volunteer Fireman of Stonington, CT to Passaic Fire Co. of Paterson NJ”

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 during the 19th century; possibly around 1868.The shield commemorates the meeting of an unknown No. 2 fire company from Stonington Connecticut with the Passaic No. 1 company from Paterson, New Jersey. The frontpiece is made of light tan leather overall. At the top is a banner with the black leather letters “ONE” with the letter “P” in black paint. The letters “NI” can be seen in red. No known company “PNOINE” company existed, and the missing letters makes identifying the company difficult. A large recessed number “2” is on the upper half of the frontpiece. A banner below has black leather letters that read “STONINGTON Ct”; below that is a recessed cartouche with the black leather letters “TO”; a banner below reads “PASSAIC” in black leather letters. A large recessed black number “1” has the black leather letters “PATERSON, NJ” in a banner below it.
Currently not on view
date made
19th century
place made
United States
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 13 1/4 in x 9 3/4 in; 33.655 cm x 24.765 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