Good Will Fire Company Fire Hat

Description:

Beginning in the late 18th century, some volunteer fire fighters began to wear hats painted with their company’s name to identify themselves at chaotic fire scenes. During the 19th century, these fire hats became more ornate, as portraits of historical figures, patriotic scenes, allegorical images, or company icons were painted alongside the company’s name, motto, or founding date. Made of pressed felt, these “stove-pipe” hats were primarily used in Philadelphia, but other nearby cities such as Baltimore and Washington adopted them as well. Fire hats were personal items with the owner’s initials often painted on the top of the hat. While these hats were worn at fires, they are more colloquially known as “parade hats.” Fire companies commonly marched in the many parades of the period and these ornate hats contributed to the visual culture of their day. These distinguishing features in a company’s regalia often proclaimed the members’ cultural and political identity as well as their position on contested topics such as work, religion and immigration.

This fire hat was used in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the first half of the 19th century. The hat has been painted red overall, with the text “GOOD WILL” painted in gold on the front, arched around a gold five-pointed star. The back of the hat features a painted image of an early wooden fire hydrant. The Good Will Fire Engine Company No. 20 was founded in the Northern Liberties area of Philadelphia in 1802, which at the time was a separate municipality. It acquired a steam fire engine in 1859, built by Isaac P. Morris & Co., and operated as the Good Will Steam Fire Engine Company No. 20 until 1871 when Philadelphia’s paid firefighting department was established. The steam engine was later used by Engine Company No. 17 of the paid city fire department from 1871 until 1888.

Date Made: 1810-1860

Maker: unknown

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States

Subject: Fire FightingFraternal Associations

Subject:

See more items in: Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement, Cultures & Communities, Clothing & Accessories, Fire Hats, Work, Firefighting Collection, Art

Exhibition:

Exhibition Location:

Related Publication: Heritage of Flames, McCosker, M.J.. The Historical Collection of the Insurance Company of North America

Credit Line: Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2005.0233.0048Catalog Number: 2005.0233.0048Accession Number: 2005.0233

Object Name: hat, fire

Physical Description: painted (overall production method/technique)fabric, pressed felt (overall material)red (overall color)gold (lettering; decoration color)paint (overall material)Measurements: overall: 5 3/4 in x 12 1/2 in x 14 in; 14.605 cm x 31.75 cm x 35.56 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ac-0565-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1318675

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