Helmet Frontpiece, “Northern Liberty Hose"

Description (Brief):

The frontpiece (also known as shield or badge) of firefighting helmets has been a distinctive part of the American firefighter’s helmet since it was developed by Henry Gratacap in the early 19th century. These frontpieces displayed a variety of information. The fire company's name and number appeared, often alongside the city or town where it was based. The frontpiece could also include the owner's initials and rank. Most fire helmets had leather frontpieces, but frontpieces could also be made of metal, especially on presentation helmets or those worn in parades.

Description (Brief)

This Northern Liberty leather frontpiece was manufactured between 1860 and 1880. The frontpiece originally had white lettering that read “NORTHERN LIBERTY / HOSE” but many of the letters are now missing. The center of the shield is a faded painted image of Lady Liberty leaning against the shield of the United States, with a pole in her left hand with a liberty cap on top. The Northern Liberty Hose Company was founded in 1828 in the Northern Liberty neighborhood of Philadelphia. Its name was changed in 1859 to “Northern Liberty Hose and Steam Fire Engine Company No.4” when it acquired a steam fire engine. The company was active until 1871 when Philadelphia’s paid firefighting department was established. The same image of Lady Liberty can be seen an earlier Northern Liberty parade hat seen in object number 2005.0233.0073.

Date Made: ca 1860-1880

Maker: unknown

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States

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


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2005.0233.1442Accession Number: 2005.0233Catalog Number: 2005.0233.1442

Object Name: frontpiece, helmet

Physical Description: leather (overall material)Measurements: overall: 7 in x 6 in; 17.78 cm x 15.24 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ad-2df0-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1394787

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