Baltimore Equitable Society 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 Baltimore Equitable Society of Baltimore, Maryland issued this fire mark around 1845. The cast iron mark features a raised image of two clasped hands with linked chain cuffs on a square background. Remnants of gold paint can be seen on the hands. The Baltimore Equitable Society was founded in 1794 and is still in operation today. The “Sign of the Clasped Hands” fire mark is still available from the Baltimore Equitable Society, and comes in cast aluminum that is painted black overall, with hands and numbering in gold.

Date Made: ca 1845

Maker: unknown

Location: Currently not on view

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:

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

Credit Line: Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2005.0233.0483Accession Number: 2005.0233Catalog Number: 2005.0233.0483

Object Name: fire mark

Physical Description: cast iron (overall material)Measurements: overall: 9 3/4 in x 10 1/4 in; 24.765 cm x 26.035 cm


Record Id: nmah_1342279

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