Fire Helmet, "Resolution Hose 3"

Fire Helmet, "Resolution Hose 3"

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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 made by John M. Migeod & Son of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the mid-19th century. The brown leather helmet has eight combs that are painted gold, and a metal fox frontpiece holder mounted on the crown. The leather around the rim has peeled away leaving the reinforced metal wire exposed. The white frontpiece has decorative stitching around the outer part of the frontpiece, the white number “3” in the center of a red background, a red banner at the top that reads “RESOLUTION” and a black banner at the bottom that reads “HOSE” in pale white leather. Founded in 1804 as the Resolution Hose Company No. 3, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it operated as a hose company until 1855, when it refused to join the newly organized Philadelphia Fire Department, which, although volunteer, was under the administrative and financial control of the city. In 1865 it was admitted into the Philadelphia Fire Department and acquired a steam fire engine in 1869. It operated as the Resolution Hose and Steam Fire Engine Company No.3 until 1871 when Philadelphia’s paid firefighting department was established.
Currently not on view
Object Name
helmet, fire
date made
19th century
John M. Migoed & Son
place made
United States
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 15 1/2 in x 11 in; 39.37 cm x 27.94 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Clothing & Accessories
Fire Helmets
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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