Charleston Mutual Insurance Company Fire Mark

Charleston Mutual Insurance Company 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.
The Charleston Mutual Insurance Company of Charleston, South Carolina issued this fire mark around 1798. The mark features a raised image of an angel bringing rain and pouring water over a burning city, with an overhead text that reads “MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY.” The Charleston Mutual Insurance Company operated from 1797 until 1806.
Currently not on view
Object Name
fire mark
date made
ca 1798
Physical Description
cast iron (overall material)
overall: 9 5/8 in x 7 3/4 in; 24.4475 cm x 19.685 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
Fire Fighting
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Cultures & Communities
Firefighting Collection
Fire Marks
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object