Helmet Frontpiece, “Philadelphia Fire Dept. Ladder Co, 14”

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 Cairns & Brother of New York, New York during the late 18th to early 19th century. The red leather frontpiece has two recessed banners at the top and bottom. The banner at the top reads “LADDER” in white paint, with the number “8” in white paint at the bottom. The number “14” is stitched into the center of the piece in raised white leather numbers.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
frontpiece, helmet
date made
unknown
maker
Cairns & Brother
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 6 in x 4 1/4 in; 15.24 cm x 10.795 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
2005.0233.1501
accession number
2005.0233
catalog number
2005.0233.1501
subject
Helmet Frontpieces
Firefighting Collection
Clothing & Accessories
Work
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

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