Helmet Frontpiece, “Philadelphia Fire Dept. Engine Co. 1”

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 patent leather frontpiece was made by Cairns & Brother of New York, New York in the mid-20th century. The black frontpiece has two recessed banners at the top and bottom. The rim of the frontpiece and the banners are framed by stitching. The upper banner reads “ENGINE” in white paint; the lower banner reads “13” in white paint. A large white leather number “1” is stitched on to the center of the piece.
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 1/2 in; 15.24 cm x 11.43 cm
place made
United States
ID Number
2005.0233.1503
accession number
2005.0233
catalog number
2005.0233.1503
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

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