Fire Helmet, "CANADAIGUA HOSE 3"


The traditional American leather firefighter’s helmet with its distinctive long rear brim, frontpiece, and crest adornment was first developed around 1821-1836 in New York City. Henry T. Gratacap, a New York City luggage maker by trade, is often credited as the developer of this style of fire helmet. Gratacap created a specially treated leather helmet with a segmented “comb” design that led to unparalleled durability and strength. The elongated rear brim (also known as a duckbill or beavertail) and frontpiece were 19th century innovations that remain the most identifiable feature of firefighter’s helmets. The body of the helmet was primarily designed to deflect falling debris, the rear brim prevented water from running down firefighters’ backs, and their sturdy crowns could aid, if necessary, in breaking windows.

This leather fire helmet was made by William H. Wilson of New York, New York in the mid-to-late 19th century. The helmet is painted black, with eight combs and a metal eagle frontpiece holder mounted on the crown. The leather frontpiece reads “CANANDAIGUA/3/HOSE” in raised gold letters on a red background. The rear brim is painted with the date “1736” in gold and red and the underbrim has the initials “J.P./M.F.Co.37.” in gold.

Date Made: 19th century

Manufacturer: Wilson, William H.

Location: Currently not on view

Subject: Fire Fighting


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


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2005.0233.0140Accession Number: 2005.0233Catalog Number: 2005.0233.0140

Object Name: helmet, fire

Physical Description: leather (overall material)black (overall color)Measurements: overall: 9 in x 11 1/2 in x 15 1/2 in; 22.86 cm x 29.21 cm x 39.37 cm


Record Id: nmah_1331048

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