Helmet Frontpiece, “Red Jacket Hose 1”

Helmet Frontpiece, “Red Jacket Hose 1”

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 in the 19th century. The frontpiece has two dark brown banners at the top with raised brown leather lettering that reads “RED JACKET/HOSE” but the “C” is missing. A large recessed white number “1” is in the center of the frontpiece, and there is a cartouche at the bottom with a raised white leather letter “H.” Two other initials originally preceded the “H” but are now missing. The Red Jacket Hose Company took its name from the red jackets its members wore during service, which was a popular style employed by companies in Boston, Philadelphia, Illinois, and Iowa.
Currently not on view
Object Name
frontpiece, helmet
date made
19th century
place made
United States
Physical Description
leather (overall material)
overall: 8 in x 5 1/2 in; 20.32 cm x 13.97 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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