Helmet Frontpiece, “Nameaug”

Helmet Frontpiece, “Nameaug”

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 19th century leather frontpiece has a background painted dark blue. The center of the shield features a gold eagle perched on the red, white, and blue United States shield, with a banner in his beak that has “NAMEAUG” written in gold letters with red shading. At the bottom of the frontpiece is the initials “E.A.” in gold lettering with red shading.
Currently not on view
Object Name
frontpiece, helmet
date made
19th century
place made
United States
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 7 1/2 in x 5 1/2 in; 19.05 cm x 13.97 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
See more items in
Home 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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This Nameaug Helmet front piece is from the City of New London, CT. The Nameaug's were organized in 1850. Nameaug is Native American for "place of good fishing". I would estimate the front piece to be from circa 1850-1860.
Thank you for the info. I'll incorporate it into the catalog record.
After further review. The only member with the initials E.A. up until 1871 was Eben E. Avery. I believe it would be safe to assume this was his helmet front.

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