Peace and Liberty Fire Bucket

Peace and Liberty Fire Bucket

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This hand-sewn bucket, dated 1784, is painted with the image of two hands clasped in friendship, a common motif in the material culture of firefighting. The image of the handshake symbolizes the cooperation and community effort that were essential in early firefighting. In the eighteenth century, when this bucket was made, firefighting was the responsibility of all able-bodied members of the community. It was necessary for everyone to provide equipment and to participate in the bucket brigades. Engine companies worked side-by-side with ordinary citizens to extinguish a fire. Surrounding the image of the handshake is a circular chain, another symbol of cooperation and strength through unity. It is possible that this bucket belonged to the Hand-in-Hand Fire Company of Philadelphia. The Hand-in-Hand was founded in 1742, and its members included some of the important professional, civic, and religious leaders of the community.
Currently not on view
Object Name
bucket, fire
date made
mid 19th century
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
stitiched by hand (overall production method/technique)
overall: 12 1/4 in x 8 1/4 in; 31.115 cm x 20.955 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
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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