Helmet Frontpiece, "Empire Hose 40"

Helmet Frontpiece, "Empire Hose 40"

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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 black leather frontpiece was made in the 19th century. The word “EMPIRE” is painted in gold on a blue banner with red trim at the top of the shield. A recessed white leather number “40” is in the center of the piece. The word “HOSE” is painted in gold above the initial “D,” but the initial before the “D” is missing. Empire Hose Company No. 40 operated in New York City in the early to mid 19th century.
Currently not on view
Object Name
frontpiece, helmet
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 6 3/4 in x 4 in; 17.145 cm x 10.16 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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