Globe Fire Company Fire Hat

Globe Fire Company Fire Hat

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Beginning in the late 18th century, some volunteer fire fighters began to wear hats painted with their company’s name to identify themselves at chaotic fire scenes. During the 19th century, these fire hats became more ornate, as portraits of historical figures, patriotic scenes, allegorical images, or company icons were painted alongside the company’s name, motto, or founding date. Made of pressed felt, these “stove-pipe” hats were primarily used in Philadelphia, but other nearby cities such as Baltimore and Washington adopted them as well. Fire hats were personal items with the owner’s initials often painted on the top of the hat. While these hats were worn at fires, they are more colloquially known as “parade hats.” Fire companies commonly marched in the many parades of the period and these ornate hats contributed to the visual culture of their day. These distinguishing features in a company’s regalia often proclaimed the members’ cultural and political identity as well as their position on contested topics such as work, religion and immigration.
This fire hat was used in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the first half of the 19th century. The hat is painted black overall with the text “GLOBE/1820” painted in gold on the front of the hat. The letter “G” is painted in gold on the back of the hat. The crown of the hat has an illustration of an eagle perched on a globe, with a banner in its beak that reads “W.R.” (likely the owner’s initials). The Globe Fire Engine Company No. 30, located in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was founded on May 22, 1820 and incorporated March 9, 1847. The company took its name from the nearby Globe Mills, a factory where some of its members were employed. Founded as a hand engine company, it acquired a steam fire engine in 1863 and operated as steam fire engine company until 1871 when Philadelphia’s paid firefighting department was established.
Currently not on view
Object Name
hat, fire
date made
place made
United States
Physical Description
painted (overall production method/technique)
black (overall color)
gold (lettering color)
fabric, pressed felt (overall material)
paint (overall material)
overall: 5 3/4 in x 12 in x 16 5/8 in; 14.605 cm x 30.48 cm x 42.2275 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
Fire Fighting
Fraternal Associations
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Cultures & Communities
Clothing & Accessories
Fire Hats
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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