Helmet Frontpiece "Columbia Hose TS"

Helmet Frontpiece "Columbia Hose TS"

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.
This leather frontpiece was made by the William H. Wilson Manufacturing Company located at 135 Bowery Street, New York, New York, likely around the mid-19th century. The frontpiece reads “COLUMBIA / HOSE / VIII / TSJ.” The initials “TSJ” are likely the owner’s initials. The Columbia Hose Company No. 8 was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was active from 1806 until 1871 when Philadelphia’s paid firefighting department was established.
Currently not on view
Object Name
frontpiece, helmet
date made
19th century
Wilson, William H.
place made
United States
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 7 1/2 in x 6 3/4 in; 19.05 cm x 17.145 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
Firefighting Collection
Helmet Frontpieces
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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