Tools of the Early Firefighting Trade This Week at LiveAuctionTalk.com Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller. From fine art to comic books, her weekly column is a great source of interesting information about the world of collecting.
News-Antique.com - Jul 07,2011 - Fire buckets were the tools of the firefighting trade in the late-19th century. A bucket usually displayed the homeowner’s name in paint. How many buckets in a household depended on the fire risk. One bucket for each fireplace was common. After a blaze was extinguished, fire buckets typically lay heaped in piles waiting to be reclaimed by their owners. To tell one from another, people painted their names, initials, emblems and designs on them.
Most fires happened at night and in some towns men wandered the streets at night watching for fires. They carried big wooden rattles that made an alarming sound when twirled.
And then there was the stove-pipe firemen’s hat. These beauties often painted and decorated with emblems and medallions speak of a time in history when firefighters were folk heroes in the local parade and neighborhood.
George Washington, Paul Revere and Thomas Jefferson were all volunteer firemen.
When the Civil War broke out in the 1860s men went off to war and horses took their place on the line. Things remained that way until the 1930s when gasoline powered vehicles replaced horses.
On March 6, a working, late-19th century, hand-drawn, hand-pump engine named the “Red Jacket” painted with the Massachusetts state seal went up for sale at Skinner Auctioneers in Boston, Mass. The pumper was brass, nickel-plated, and polychrome-painted metal.
It was mounted with a small brass-framed placard inscribed “Facsimile of the Engine Owned by the Red Jacket Veteran Fireman’s Association/Cambridge, Mass.”
The “Red Jacket” sold for $53,325.
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