Insurance Company of North America Star Fire Mark

Description (Brief):

Beginning in the 1750s, some American insurance companies issued metal fire marks to policyholders to signify that their property was insured against fire damage. The fire marks bore the name and/or symbol of the insurer, and some included the customer’s policy number. The company or agent would then affix the mark to the policyholder’s home or business. For owners the mark served as proof of insurance and a deterrent against arson. For insurance companies the mark served as a form of advertising, and alerted volunteer firefighters that the property was insured.

Description (Brief)

The Insurance Company of North America issued a wavy six-pointed star as its fire mark from 1794 to 1797. Director’s minutes from an INA meeting show that 100 star fire marks were ordered from Philadelphia artist Robert Haydock, who was paid $133 for his work. These marks were then sold to policy holders for $1.33. A group of influential citizens in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania founded the Insurance Company of North America in 1792. The INA was the first joint stock insurance company in the United States, and focused its business on marine and fire insurance. The Insurance Company of North America and related companies merged with the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company in 1982 to become the CIGNA Corporation. A later sale made INA a part of ACE Holdings, where it still operates today.

Date Made: 1794

Maker: unknown

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Classified: Fire FightingSubject: Insurance


See more items in: Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement, Cultures & Communities, Advertising, Work, Firefighting Collection, Fire Marks


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2005.0233.0382Accession Number: 2005.0233Catalog Number: 2005.0233.0382

Object Name: fire mark

Physical Description: wood (overall material)sheet lead (overall material)Measurements: board: 16 1/4 in x 11 3/4 in; 41.275 cm x 29.845 cm


Record Id: nmah_1341592

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.