Fire Helmet, "F.A."

Description:

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 used during the 19th century, likely in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The helmet has eight combs, with a metal eagle frontpiece holder mounted on the crown. The hat is missing its front frontpiece, but the rear brim features a gold painted image of a fire hydrant with attached gushing hose, flanked by the initials “FA.” This was the logo of the Fire Association of Philadelphia, an insurance company founded by a group of eleven volunteer engine companies and five volunteer hose companies in 1817. The hat likely belonged to a fire company that was part of the Fire Association of Philadelphia. There is a paper label inside the hat that reads “Presented to Insurance Company of North American by William K. Gorhan, Ridley Park, Pa., husband of Martha Stille McIntyre Gorham, whose father, John McIntyre owned same.”

Date Made: 19th century

Referenced: Fire AssociationMaker: unknown

Location: Currently not on view

Subject: Fire Fighting

Subject:

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

Exhibition:

Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2005.0233.0154Accession Number: 2005.0233Catalog Number: 2005.0233.0154

Object Name: helmet, fire

Physical Description: leather (overall material)Measurements: overall: 9 in x 14 1/2 in x 10 1/2 in; 22.86 cm x 36.83 cm x 26.67 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ac-8a01-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1331110

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