Fire insurance mark
Fire insurance marks are metal plaques marked with the emblem of the insurance company which were affixed to the front of insured buildings as a guide to the insurance company's fire brigade. These identification marks were used in the eighteenth and nineteenth century in the days before municipal fire services were formed. The UK marks are called 'Fire insurance plaques'.
The first to use the mark was the Sun Fire Office which was established in  Some period specimens remain on historical buildings in the older areas of Britain's and America's cities and larger towns. Cast metal plaques were made of iron, lead, or sometimes brass. Embossed sheet metal signs were also made, as well as flat enamel signs – the latter mostly in Continental Europe in the later 19th century.
Period specimens may have high value among antiques collectors, leading to illicit creation of fakes. Also, nostalgicreproductions have been made since the early 20th century for decorative purposes.
For most of the 18th century, each insurance company maintained its own fire brigade, which extinguished fires in those buildings insured by the company and, in return for a fee to be paid later, in buildings insured by other companies. By , fire marks served more as advertisements than as useful identifying marks; some insurance companies no longer issued fire marks, and those that did sometimes left them up after a policy had expired. Successive combinations of fire brigades led to virtually the entire city of London being put under the protection of the London Fire Engine Establishment, which fought not only the fires of policy holders but those of nonsubscribers, the reason being that fires in uninsured buildings could rapidly spread to insured buildings. The Museum of English Rural Life has a collection of fire insurance marks from around England 
Fire Insurance has over years of history in America. The early fire marks of Benjamin Franklin's time can still be seen on some Philadelphia buildings as well as in other older American cities. Subscribers paid fire fighting companies in advance for fire protection and in exchange would receive a fire mark to attach to their building. The payments for the fire marks supported the fire fighting companies. Volunteer fire departments were also common in the United States, and some fire insurers contributed money to these departments and awarded bonuses to the first fire engine arriving at the scene of a fire.
Fire insurance companies began operating in the Australian colonies in the early part of the 19th century. They were both Australian and foreign, principally British, owned. The Union Assurance Company of Sydney and The Australasian Fire and Life Assurance Company are both recorded as having offices in George Street, Sydney in The Sydney Fire Insurance Company was established in at George Street Sydney. It issued for display at the company’s fire insured properties a mark in copper with the company name with the image of a golden fleece, being at that time in the New South Wales colony a symbol of safety and security. A rare and original plaque from the s is on display at the historic Darling House, The Rocks, the current property having been constructed in this colonial precinct In Melbourne, the Collingwood Fire Insurance Company (with a paid up capital of pounds) was operating in Gertude Street, Collingwood, Victoria in
Fire brigades in metropolitan areas were organised much along the same lines as in the United Kingdom and the United States and were funded by the insurance companies. Likewise the companies issued fire marks to be affixed to buildings to indicate where there were risks for which they had underwritten policies. Such fire marks were commonly made of tinplate, cast iron and lead.
At least one company, the Norwich Union, issued "fire marks" printed on calico for use in rural areas. They were to be fixed on hay ricks, corn stacks and shearing sheds on the theory that they would indicate to arsonists that the owner was insured and would not be out of pocket should the property be destroyed by fire.
One feature of the insurance company funding of fire brigades survives in some Australian states and territories in the 21st century in that the fire brigade services are principally funded by a "fire service levy" or tax applied to all property insurance policies issued within a state.
Styles and materials
- Examples showing the various fabrication methods
Embossed sheet metal British specimens in a museum exhibit
Cast lead British fire mark with stamped serial number
A classic American design in painted cast iron, likely a decorative reproduction
Stamped brass Russian specimen
Cast brass British specimen. (In this case, is a year date rather than a serial number.)
A stamped brass Italian fire plaque
An American cast iron specimen
Painted metal British specimen
Unusual British specimen possibly made of painted terra cotta
Unusual cement Russian specimen
Embossed sheet brass British fire plaque with black painted details. (Flat sheet metal emblems may be called fire plaques.)
Interior decoration with a collection of Philadelphia Contributionship fire marks. Cast metal four-hand-carry emblems affixed to wooden shields which were numbered.
British lead mark shown close-up and in context as seen from the pavement (visible between the two windows)
Media related to Fire insurance signs at Wikimedia Commons
- ^G. V. Blackstone, A history of the British Fire Service,
- ^Rowland G. M. Baker, Fire Insurance Wall Plaques Walton & Weybridge Local History Society, Paper No 7,
- ^ abAnnelise Graebner Anderson, The Development of Municipal Fire Departments in the United States(PDF), Journal of Libertarian Studies
- ^Fire Insurance Plaques, Museum of English Rural Life, retrieved 25 October
- ^Chitty, Alfred (). Fire Insurance Offices and "Fire Marks" in Australasia. Melbourne, Victoria: Southland Press. pp.3–
- ^Hunt, Peter (March 11, ). "Make everyone pay fire levy". The Weekly Times. News Limited. Retrieved
Three Antique lead fire insurance plaques
1. Reeman Dansie Limited trading as Reeman Dansie (hereby referred to as ‘Reemans’) act only as Auctioneers and agents and their representatives is hereafter referred to as ‘The Auctioneer’.
2. The highest bidder acceptable to the Auctioneer shall be the buyer but if any dispute arises during or immediately after the sale of the lot, the lot may be put up again immediately at the absolute discretion of the Auctioneer.
3. The Auctioneer has the right at his absolute discretion to refuse any bid and to advance the bidding as he may decide.
4. The purchase price payable by the buyer shall be the aggregate of the final bid and a premium of 20% of the final bid together with any V.A.T. chargeable on the final bid and such premium. The ‘final bid’ means the price at which the lot is knocked down to the buyer.
5. The buyers to give in their names and addresses (if required) and to pay a deposit of 25% in part payment of the purchase money; in default the lot or lots purchased by them to be at the disposal of the Auctioneers. The remainder of the buyer’s money to be paid before delivery. The contract of sale is to be deemed in all cases as made exclusively with the Auctioneers and the payment is to be made to them or the Clerk only.
6. Each and every lot shall immediately at the fall of the hammer to be considered as delivered and be and remain in every aspect at the absolute risk of the prospective buyer(s) thereof and shall be taken with all faults and errors of description, whether as to quality, condition, material, date, artist or origin and no allowance shall be made in respect of any error, misdescription or imperfection. No warranty is given or is to be implied by the description in this catalogue.
7. Any person attending the Sale Room to be answerable for all damage they may do to any lots or to the premises.
8. The seller shall be entitled to place a reserve price on any lot and the Auctioneer shall have the right to bid on behalf of the seller. In the event of any reserve price not being reached at auction, Reemans are empowered to sell after the auction, by private contract, at not less than the reserve price, subject to a 10% Auctioneers discretion. The Auctioneers have the right at their discretion to withdraw or divide any lot or to combine any two or more lots.
9. The property in a lot shall not pass to the buyer until he has paid the purchase price in full. Reemans shall be entitled to a lien on any lot sold until the purchase price has been paid. All lots are to be paid and taken away at the buyer’s expense within 3 days from the sale. Settlement of the net sum normally takes place within 14 days of the sale (by crossed cheque to the seller) unless the buyer has not paid for the goods. In this case no settlement will then be made but we will take the seller’s instructions in the light of our conditions of sale.
Every person while on the premises before, during or after the sale shall be deemed to be there at his or her own risk and with notice of the condition of the premises and no person shall have or make any claim against the seller or Auctioneers in respect of any injury they may sustain or any accident which may happen.
No cheques taken unless satisfactory references are given.
Upon failure to comply with the above conditions, the money deposited shall be forfeited and the lots uncleared within the time aforesaid shall be re-sold either by public sale or private contract and the deficiency (if any) upon such second sale together with all charges attending same shall be made good by the defaulter of the present sale. Any surplus that may arise there from shall not be recovered by the defaulter.
All goods on Reemans premises or in their custody are held insured against the risks of fire, burglary, water damage and accidental damage. The value of such goods shall be the gross amount realised or in the case of unsold lots, such values as the Auctioneers in their discretion consider to be the auction value or the reserve price less the commission payable.
Reemans do not themselves undertake the collection or deliveries of goods but will, if so requested instruct a contractor on the seller’s or buyer’s behalf. Reemans disclaim all responsibility for loss or damage to goods or for unauthorised removal of goods.
The Auctioneers will not hold themselves responsible for any action that may arise acting as agents between buyer and seller and for both equitably.
Should any question arise not provided for in the foregoing conditions, the decision of the Auctioneers shall be final from which there shall be no appeal.
Withdrawn lots & Increasing reserves. The seller may not withdraw a lot from the sale or increase a reserve on a lot without the Auctioneers consent. If a seller withdraws a lot or increases the reserve, the Auctioneers reserve the right to charge a fee equal to 10% (plus V.A.T.) of the lower estimate or reserve price (minimum fee £10 plus V.A.T.).
Artist’s Resale Right. Owing to recent legislation, we have an obligation to collect a Royalty tax on behalf of living artists. It is based on a percentage of the amount their works sell for at auction above 1, Euros (4% from 1, – 50, Euros). Buyers will be charged this levy in addition to the usual buyer’s premium. Further details available on request. Liable lots will be marked with * in the catalogue.
All monies received by us on account of the purchase price for the lot will be paid by us into our client’s auction account at Barclays Bank plc, account no. Any interest earned on monies held in trust will be retained by Reemans unless otherwise agreed.
Reemans have in place a complaints handling procedure, details of which are available on request.
The seller consents to Reeman Dansie promoting the lots in any way they deem fit, including publishing them in the local and national press or via the internet.
Reeman Dansie is the trading name of Reeman Dansie Limited. Registered in England No. Registered Office No. 8 Wyncolls Road, Severalls Business Park, Colchester, Essex, CO4 9HU.
Fire Insurance Wall Plaques
Rowland G. M. Baker
Walton & Weybridge
Local History Society
Price 3 shillings (15p)
PAPER NUMBER 7
© Rowland G. M. Baker
The author would like to thank a number of people for their interest and assistance in the compilation of this paper, especially those who have drawn my attention to the existence of fire marks; the owners of houses who have allowed me to inspect, measure and photograph marks; Mr. J.J. Williamson of the Fire Mark Circle; the Commercial Union, Phoenix and Sun Insurance Companies for information willingly given. The unfailing courtesy of librarians everywhere, in the British Museum, the Guildhall Library, Molesey Branch Library, and elsewhere, is something never to be forgotten.
On the walls of a number of old houses may sometimes still be seen the metal plaques or badges erected by insurance companies to signify that the property was insured. Each respective insuring company was identified by its own particular emblem embossed upon the plaque.
The plaques fall, broadly speaking, into two types. The earlier ones were mostly cast in lead and generally had a number corresponding to the number of the insurance policy engraved or painted on a panel beneath them. They are usually referred to as fire marks. The later plaques, known as fire-plates, are chiefly pressed out of thin copper-plate, or tinned sheet-iron. Some were made from cast-iron. These were often highly-coloured, for the fire-plate was employed more by way of advertisement than anything else.
The houses on which these fire-plaques are seen cover a wide range from mansions to lowly cottages. The majority are indeed to be found on unpretentious houses, probably because humbler people had a greater need to shelter under the protection of insurance.
In areas such as this where vast re-developments are taking place this type of dwelling is fast falling before the demolisher's bull-dozer. As these houses rarely have a claim to architectural or historical distinction little can be done to prevent this. The fire-plaques, however, as fine examples of domestic archaeology, could and should be saved. Recently the Esher District Local History Society managed by their intervention to preserve one from a cottage in West Molesey only hours before the demolition gang razed it to the ground.
It is to explain and record the surviving fire-plaques in this district, with a view to their preservation, that this paper has primarily been written.
In early days the only recourse open to people who were rendered homeless by fire, was to solicit charity for recoupment. This usually meant applying for a "brief". A "brief" was in effect a mandate issued by the Crown or the courts to make a collection for a deserving object. The procedure was that the person suffering loss made application to the magistrates to issue a letter endorsing the sufferer's plea for the charity of all good people. The letter was then distributed to as many places throughout the country as possible and read out by the parson in church on Sunday, with an exhortation to be as liberal as possible to a collection which the church-wardens then made on behalf of the brief. It was a sort of early form of "The Week's Good Cause" (1).
Thus in Eleanor Lawrence and Anne Try, both widows living in West Molesey, had their homes and all their possessions consumed by a fire and sustained a loss of some £ At the Quarter Sessions the Justices of the Peace recommended the two widows as "proper and fitt objects for publicke charity" (2). Their appeal was sent out, and we know that the parish of Sanderstead, in Surrey, collected 4s. 7d. for the widows (3), and that Putney collected £1. 4s. jointly for them and for a fire at Chertsey (4). Briefs were finally abolished by Act of Parliament in (5).
At various times in the early seventeenth century several projects were put forward for the compensating of such losses by means of insurance schemes. These were to provide a certain and fixed indemnity for loss by fire from a fund into which all those insured would contribute (6). None of these proposals reached practical fruition until the Great Fire of London in September This brought the consequences of such conflagrations sharply to people's minds and enabled insurance doctrines to flourish.
The honour of being the first person to organise a practical insurance scheme in the modern sense is usually accorded to Dr. Nicholas Barbon, or Barebone, the son of the well-known puritan Praisegod Barebone (7).
Barbon had originally trained as a physician, but apparently possessing a keen appetite for wealth, became interested in large scale speculative building operations after the Fire of London (8). It was men like Barbon who frustrated the plans of visionaries like Wren and John Gwynn who wished to rebuild the city in the Grand Manner (9).
Barbon became aware that house owners were showing an interest in fire insurance and is said to have set up an office for this purpose in The evidence for this one-man office is, however, extremely tenuous (10).
In a scheme by a man named Newbold to induce the Corporation of the City of London to introduce a system of fire insurance as a municipal enterprise was aborted by financial interests (11). Barbon with other speculators thereupon floated a joint stock undertaking known as "The Fire Office". This is regarded as the first modern fire insurance company. In it was said of fire insurance "Dr. Barebone, who first invented it, hath sett up an office for it, and is likely to gett vastly by it" (12). Vastly, however, he did not get. He began borrowing money and involved himself in financial difficulties. He died in heavily in debt (13). It was said he "lacked balance, was a religious fanatic, and was unsuccessful in his various ventures, perhaps because of his inability to work with partners" (14). Yet he had a feeling for people's needs and the foresight to see that fire insurance was a practical proposition.
On 12th May an advertisement for the Fire Office appeared as follows: "This is to give notice that the persons that propose to insure Houses from Fire do now attend at their office in Threadneedle Street, against the The Exchange, every day from 9 to 12 in the morning and from 3 to 6 in the afternoon" (15). The rates were sixpence in the pound rent for brick-built houses and twelvepence for timber. The risk covered was expressed as "Burnt down, Demolished, or otherwise damnified by reason of fire" (16).
The emblem of the Fire Office was a "Phoenix in a flame", and in , after a number of other fire companies had been formed, the office was officially renamed "The Phenix". This should not be confused with "The Phoenix" company, which was not started until
Other companies soon followed and many proposals for promoting fire insurances were put forward. Some of these flourished and some did not. The Phenix itself expired about
In the early days the companies confined their activities to the City of London and its immediate neighbourhood. As they became more solidly established, the field was pushed further and further out from London. By the Hand-In-Hand was insuring as far out as Kingston Upon Thames (17) and shortly after the Sun announced that it had dropped all limitations and proposed to effect insurances all over Great Britain (18).
The country business was usually handled by local agents. One can see the result where a vigorous and active man took over a district by a proliferation of marks of one particular company in one area. This is probably the reason for the predominance of Royal Exchange plates in the Thames Ditton and Claygate areas. Likewise the reverse could be the case where an inefficient agent operated. In the eighteenth century it was reported to the Sun Office that many people in Surrey "which would Insure, do not know how to get it done & many that are Insur'd drop them not knowing how to pay their money to the Office" (19).
In the seventeenth century there existed no properly organised civic brigades for fighting fires. If a house caught fire the only method known for dowsing it was by means of buckets of water brought from the nearest river or pond. This was generally ineffective and, with the jumble of tightly-packed, highly-combustible dwellings that existed in most towns at that time, conflagrations were extremely common (20). To prevent their spread it was the custom to blow up or pull down adjacent houses which had not yet caught fire in order to form a break to isolate and confine the blaze. As this was never entertained until the fire had taken a good hold and even then not until a magistrate or some other person with authority could be found to take the responsibility, much damage was caused before the conflagration could be restrained. Even then some insurance companies refused to pay out on houses which had been blown up, if the company concerned deemed that this had been done unnecessarily, even though ordered by the authorities and the householder had been powerless to prevent it (21).
The Great Fire in drew attention to the general inadequacy of fire fighting arrangements. An Act was therefore passed in l (22) which required municipal authorities to provide buckets, ladders, pickaxes and other equipment necessary for the extinguishing of fires. This Act was confined to London. It made no provision for the training of men to use this equipment, nor indeed did it make the local authority responsible for the quenching of fires. In view of what the City had already suffered the requirements of this Act were almost farcical.
The insurance companies placed little reliance on these fire fighting facilities. The Fire Office, soon after its inception, inaugurated its own brigade of retained "firemen". They were to stand in readiness to engage any fire which occurred on property insured by the Company and to prevent a fire from spreading to such property. By this means they hoped to reduce their loss and encourage new subscribers.
The rest of the insurance companies soon followed their example. Before long all the prominent offices were running their own fire services. Most of the firemen were recruited from the Thames watermen. Thus in the Hand-In-Hand Fire Office resolved on the formation of a fire brigade "to consist of eight watermen" (23). It was further agreed that the remuneration of these watermen should be "day or night, five shillings", or "half-a-day or night, two shillings and sixpence apeece", also that half of the men should reside on the Middlesex side of the Thames and half on the Surrey side (24).
In consideration of their value in combating fires, all watermen who enlisted with a fire brigade were specifically exempted by Act of Parliament from being impressed into the navy by the press gangs who roamed the riverside (25).
Each office vied with the others to prove that its own men were the smartest and most efficient. Each brigade was dressed out in its own distinctive livery. Thus the Hand-In-Hand provided their men with "Caps, Coates and Breeches, also with Badges to be marks of the office". Moreover these were to be "blew lined with red, a red edging being put on ye same" (26).
Similarly the Sun Fire Office, which was established in , announced that "For the farther Encouragement of all Persons there are actually employed in the service of the office Thirty lusty able-body'd firemen, who are cloathed in blue Liveries, and having Silver Badges with the Sun marks upon their arms, and Twenty able Porters likewise, who are always ready to assist in quenching fires and removing goods" (27).
To furnish a ready and simple means of identity, "in order that the houses of those persons insured may be known by the said firemen" (28), each company issued its policyholders with a distinguishing mark or plaque, which was fixed in a prominent position on the front of the building. "Which Mark is to be number'd with the Number of the Subscribers Policy, and there to remain so long as the Subscribers continue to pay their Quarteridges" (29).
The fire-mark had been born.
A writer on Fire Marks has commented: "the fire-mark was invented for the purpose of and used as a guide to the brigade. The shareholders of the first fire office, started, remember, for the purposes of business with the object of making a profit, would not have been such philanthropic idiots as to keep up an expensive brigade to extinguish fires on anyone's property. No this brigade was formed for two reasons; firstly, as an inducement to people to insure because of its protection and secondly, to enable the company to save as much property as possible, and thus reduce the losses. If, in the event of a fire, a brigade arriving on the scene found it was not their office that insured the risk, and that no surrounding property in which they were interested seemed to be in danger, they went home again, perhaps to bed, and left the fire-fiend to be fought either by the brigade belonging to the insuring company or by the public if no insurance existed" (30).
This is a pessimistic view. It is doubtful, even in the eighteenth century, if anybody could be so disinterested as to let property burn when the power lay in his hands to prevent it. There are indeed numerous instances recorded of co-operation between different brigades, and even payments from one company to another for assistance rendered by its firemen (31). Even so, it was stated in , when these things were still in people's minds, that "Until within the last seven or eight years, each Insurance Company had its own engines and firemen, and it too often happened that the latter would decline to exert themselves at the suppression of a fire, unless the building which was a prey to it, was insured with the office to which they belonged" (32).
The insurance companies could not individually keep a fire brigade in every town and village throughout the country. In the rural areas they tended each to contribute in proportion to their business, to another company, to voluntary effort, or to the civic authority for fire-fighting services within a given area. Thus the Sun Office made the following contributions towards the maintenance of a brigade at Guildford:-
|28 March||£s.||Towards repair of the engine.|
|9 March||£||Towards an engine house.|
|30 November||£5.||Towards fire plugs.|
|25 November||£5.||Towards the purchase of an engine.|
|17 November||£||Towards hose.|
|23 February||£5.||Towards repair of the engine. (33).|
By the end of the eighteenth century it became increasingly clear that competitive action by separate brigades was wasteful of men and equipment. In the major fire companies, realising that unity was more efficient than division, came together to consider measures for promoting co-operative action in fighting fires (34). A working agreement was concluded between the Royal Exchange, The Phoenix and the Sun. This established in the London area a joint night patrol. In all the more important fire office brigades merged to form the London Fire Engine Establishment. Later this became the nucleus of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade which was established by Act of Parliament in (35).
The early fire marks were cast in lead. In it is recorded that the Hand-In-Hand Society ordered their treasurer to "pay for two hundredweight of lead eighteen shillings and for ye making of markes for ye Society" (36). The marks were supposed to be supplied and fitted gratis but the men who went round with ladders to fix them often charged the clients a fee for their services. Consequently a warning was issued to all new subscribers drawing attention to the conditions of the policy and directing them not to pay the fee demanded (37).
Besides being used as a means of identity for firemen, the marks also served to prevent fraud. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries buildings seldom had formal addresses. For instance the headquarters of The Fire Office is given as "at the Backside of the Royal Exchange". The fire policy for a house in East Molesey dated , describes the house as "on the south side of the road at Moulsey aforesaid between the Church and the Sign of the Swan", although the house in question was some three hundred yards or so from the church. In these circumstances confusion between properties often took place. This confusion was sometimes used by unscrupulous people to claim compensation from companies with whom they were not insured. No claim, therefore, was paid out until the mark from the burnt-out building was actually produced as evidence of its being covered. This is why the marks were made of metal which uould not be consumed in the blaze. In the Friendly Society warned its clients that "To prevent fraud in getting a Policy by indirect means after a house is burnt, no house is esteemed a secured house till the Mark hath been actually affixed thereon" (38).
Fraudulent claims were sometimes made by people who stole fire marks from other buildings and nailed them upon their own. To prevent this the mark was always placed as high as practical, usually between the windows on the first floor. In the Friendly offered a reward for the apprehension of the persons who had stolen several of the Society's marks (39).
An incidental role which the fire mark, quite unexpectedly, performed was in preserving property during times of public disturbance. There are authenticated reports that during the "No Popery" riots instigated by Lord George Gordon in , the rioters deliberately spared houses which by reason of displaying the fire mark were obviously insured and sacked only those without them (40).
With the increased co-operation and eventual merging of individual company fire brigades the use of the mark as a means of recognition declined. The establishment of identifiable addresses made the stamping of policy numbers on the marks no longer necessary. From the beginning of the nineteenth century fewer and fewer companies issued fire marks. Instead most companies used highly-coloured pressed-out metal sheets - the fire-plates. These were employed almost exclusively for purposes of publicity.
The Albion Insurance Company, founded in l, announced: "It is not the policy of this office to affix any Marks on buildings. It is known that such marks are used only as a mode of advertisement. They continue on buildings many years after policies have ceased. The company trusts that its conduct and character are sufficiently popular to remove the necessity of such advertisement. The security of the persons insured will in no respect be deminished by the disuse of this superfluous appendage. As the messengers of the company are not put to the trouble of fixing marks, they are forbidden taking fees on delivery of policies, as hitherto practised" (41). In fact the Albion did later issue a fire-plate.
The fixing of plates on insured property gradually died out during the nineteenth century, although one or two companies still continued to do so almost to the turn of the century. Francis Relton, writing in , says the practice "has not yet fallen into desuetude", but adds prophetically "it is possible that in another half century the custom will be found to have been abandoned" (42). Abandoned it has been.
Some Local Examples
1. HAND-IN-HAND - Cottage in Ockham Lane, next to Poynters Farm, Cobham - Lead mark - stamped This policy was first issued 7th November , and renewed seven years later, to Thomas Page, citizen and stationer, on a tenement and hophouse "on ye West side of Pointers Green" (43). Thomas Page, who later became Lord of the Manor of Cobham, also had policies on several other properties in the area, but on which the fire marks seem not to have survived. (Plate la).
Plate 1a) Hand-In-Hand Fire-Mark
2. HAND-IN-HAND - Old Manor House, Bell Road, East Molesey - Lead mark - stamped This policy was first issued 11th February , to Thomas Willett, tanner, and renewed in (43). The mark is on the main facade on the south side of the house. It cannot be seen from the public road. (Plate la).
3. HAND-IN-HAND - Chatley Farm, Pointers Road, Cobham - Lead mark - stamped This policy was issued on 30th September , "on a house &c. situate on the East side of Birch Hill, about 2 miles south westward from Cobham, known by the name of Chatley Farm" (44).
4. SUN - Old Mill House, Stoke Road, Cobham - Lead mark - This mark has a number stamped on it which it has not yet been possible to decipher. (Plate 1b).
Plate 1b) Sun Fire-Mark
5. SUN - Pyports, Church Street, Cobham - Lead mark - This mark is on the rear of the house overlooking the lawn, and is numbered The policy was issued on 26th March , to John Freeland, "on his new Dwelling house - near the Church, Cobbam", and for a farm house called "Marsh Place" and miscellaneous barns, etc. (45). (Plate lb).
6. SUN - Pyports, Church Street, Cobham - Lead mark - This mark is on the front of the house overlooking the road. It has a number stamped on it which it has not yet been possible to decipher. (Plate 1b).
7. SUN - Sunridge, Hare Lane, Claygate - Lead mark - stamped This house was built in The mark, therefore, was not originally issued for this property. It was in fact, issued on 29th April covering a farmhouse at Broadway in Worcestershire (46). (Plate lb).
8. SUN - Plough P.H., Plough Lane, Cobbam - Lead mark - The number of this mark is completely obliterated. (Plate lb).
9. SUN - 66 Baker Street, Weybridge - Zinc plate - On west side of house. (Plate 2a).
Plate 2a) Sun Fire-Plate
UNION - Pyports, Church Street, Cobham - Lead mark - On rear of house overlooking lawn, not visible from public road. This mark is stamped Unfortunately the records of the Union have been lost and it is not possible to trace the issue of the insurance. It dates, however, from about (Plate 1c).
Plate 1c) Union Fire-Mark
ROYAL EXCHANGE - Chadworth,Hare Lane, Claygate - Lead.plate - This type of Royal Exchange plate, like the following four, was issued between about to (Plate 2b).
Plate 2b) Royal Exchange Fire-Plate
ROYAL EXCHANGE - 12 St. Leonards Road, Claygate - Lead plate. (Plate 2b).
ROYAL EXCHANGE - 28/30 Lower Green Road, Thames Ditton - Lead plate. (Plate 2b).
ROYAL EXCHANGE - 36 Lower Green Road, Thames Ditton - Lead plate. (Plate 2b).
ROYAL EXCHANGE - Kenwyn, Weston Green, Thames Ditton - Lead plate. (Plate 2b).
PHOENEX - The Orchard, Hare Lane, Claygate - Lead mark - stamped Unfortunately the old records of the Phoenix were destroyed by enemy action. It is, therefore, impossible to tell exactly when the policy was issued, but it would have been sometime between June and August (47). (Plate ld).
Plate 1d) Phoenix Fire-Mark
PHOENEX - 11/13 High Street, West Molesey - Copper mark - This mark originally had a number painted on it, now obliterated. (Plate ld).
PHOENEX - 41 Street Cobham - Copper mark - This mark had a number painted on it which is now obliterated. (Plate ld).
COUNTY - 16/18 Burwood Road, Hersham - Copper plate - This plate and the following were issued about - (Plate 2c).
Plate 2c) County Fire-Plate
COUNTY - 14 Church Street, Walton-on-Thames - Copper plate. (Plate 2c).
COUNTY - 32 Bridge Road, East Molesey - Copper plate - This plate has no lower name-panel. (Plate 2c).
ROYAL - 28 Pemberton Road, East Molesey - Plate. (Plate 2d).
Plate 2d) Royal Fire-Plate
Besides the above the following houses displayed until recent times plaques which are now missing:-
North Weylands Farm, Walton-on-Thames. This house, likely to be demolished, had a SUN lead mark until the middle of last year. (Plate 1b).
17 High Street, West Molesey. This house, now demolished, formerly had a SUN lead mark. (Plate lb).
Walton Road, West Molesey. This cottage was demolished in ; a COUNTY copper plate from it is now in the possession of the Esher District Local History Society. (Plate 2c).
The Barley Mow, Molesey Road, Hersham. PHOENIX (Plate ld).
Notes on Fire Insurance Companies (48)
On the 12th November a number of enterprising individuals, whose names are still recorded, gathered together at Tom's Coffee House in St. Martin's Lane, and formed themselves into a society for the transaction of fire insurance business on a mutual basis "having for their sole object the benefit of the insured" (49). A Deed of Settlement was drawn up for the constitution and administration of the society which was signed by all the members (50). The society was given the rather ponderous title "The Contributors for Insuring Houses, Chambers or Rooms; from Loss by Fire by Amicable Contribution". This was later shortened to "The Amicable Contributors for Insuring from Loss by Fire", and still later to "The Amicable Contributionship" (51).
The society adopted as the emblem for its fire mark "Two hands clasped with a crown over them, a symbol of friendship and good faith and perhaps also intended as an indication of the mutual principle on which the society was founded" (52). Because of this it was not long before the society was affectionately known as "The Hand-In-Hand", and this was adopted as the official name of the company about
This emblem prompted William Cowper in his poem "Friendship", written in , to compare friendship as being "Like Hand-In-Hand Insurance Plates" (53).
The society soon flourished and before long could claim that it was cheaper and better organised than either of its competitors (54). In January a permanent office was opened in Tom's Coffee House. This was kept until the s, when the lease was taken over by a new company known as the Westminster (55).
The Hand-In-Hand was incorporated into the Commercial Union Group in , but still continues in the mutual system laid down by its pioneers.
By the start of the eighteenth century three fire insurance concerns were operating, but these insured buildings only and not their contents. In an enterprise known as the Charitable Corporation was formed, which appears amongst other things, to have carried out some form of fire insurance on goods and furniture. It engaged "a competent number of watermen with coats and silver badges", also "carmen with carts and porters to help remove insured goods to any place desired". They also maintained warehouses, to which goods might be removed in case of fire and kept until the danger was passed, all free of cost to the insured (56).
This corporation seems to have lasted only a short time, but the idea was appropriated by Charles Povey, who had opened a general trading concern known as the Traders Exchange House. In Povey extended his business to cover fire insurance, specialising in "the insurance of goods and merchandise". He also carried the Corporation's other ideas a step further by proposing the formation of a Salvage Corps for the removal of goods in the case of fire and to protect them against theft (57).
In November Povey decided not only to extend the scope of his activities but also to bring some associates into the business which he renamed the Company of London Insurers (58).
In order to give some status to his new concern Povey wanted a fire mark like the older established offices. Having an interest in astronomy he chose what was to become perhaps the most famous fire mark of all - the sign of the resplendent Sun. "Every Person, who already has, or shall have at any time hereafter Subscribe to Mr. Povey's Proposals for Insuring Moveable Goods, Merchandizes and Wares, from Loss and Damage by Fire, shall have a Mark representing the Sun, nailed up against their Houses" (59).
In the business, like most of the other companies, dropped its more cumbersome title and adopted formally the nickname it had received from its fire mark emblem, and became known as the Sun Fire Office. It is now the oldest fire insurance company in the world still trading under its original name.
In a number of "respectable Merchants and Traders" issued proposals for forming a society to be known as the "Union Fire Office" (60), "for insuring goods and merchandises from loss by fire in the way and upon like terms with the Hand-In-Hand office, which is fairly calculated for the public good and not for the private advantage of any particular person" (61). The society was founded by a Deed of Settlement dated 16th February (62).
The constitution of the Union was firmly based on that of the Hand-In-Hand. From the start a strong relationship existed, and there were interlinking directorships between the two. The Union adopted as its fire mark a device, adapted from that of the Hand-In-Hand, representing four hands clasped. It was, therefore, often referred to as "The Double Hand-In-Hand". A working agreement was established between the two offices by which the Hand-In-Hand would only insure buildings and the sister office their contents (63). This provision lasted until (64).
The Union was merged with the Commercial Union in
The 'Weekly Journal' of 12th Dececieer records that "On Tuesday the Society of Gentlemen Subscribers of the new project for insurance of Ships and Merchandise waited upon the King with a petition for the Grant of a Charter to carry on their new undertaking, and we hear that they were graciously received and their Petition referr'd to the Privy Council". Their efforts were successful and they granted a royal charter in The company was first known as Onslow's Insurance from Lord Onslow its first governor. It began by dealing with marine insurance only. In a supplementary charter was obtained by the name of "The Royal Exchange Assurance of Houses and Goods from Loss by Fire", from the fact that their offices were sited in the Royal Exchange (65). The company also used a representation of the Royal Exchange building as the emblem on their fire mark. This was the old Royal Exchange build in after the Great Fire, and which was itself ravaged by fire in That fire unfortunately destroyed all the company's old records (66).
In the latter part of the eighteenth century the sugar bakers and refiners of London, because of the special fire risks of their business, found difficulty in obtaining insurance cover at moderate premiums from existing offices. They decided, therefore, in , to promote a company themselves to cater mainly for their own particular risk (67). This company was called the New Fire Office, and, like the old Fire Office before it, adopted as a badge "a Phoenix Rising from the Flames". This was depicted on their fire mark together with the word "Protection". The company quickly flourished and the Phoenix is one of the most widely met of all fire marks.
This company was established in by an "association of noblemen end gentlemen" for the particular benefit of residents in country districts. The promoters adopted two provisions which were to have a great effect in advancing the popularity of the new office. The first, to encourage local growth, was the inauguration of county committees, on which members of the local gentry and other dignitaries were invited to sit. The second was that every person who continued his insurance for seven years under one policy could share in the profits of the office, without incurring liability for any of its losses. This was something new in a company other than a mutual society and "ensured the almost instantaneous success of the project" (68).
The fire-plate depicts Britannia with a shield of the Royal Arms as they were in bearing an inescutcheon of the arms of Hanover.
The County was absorbed into the Alliance (now the Sun Alliance and London Group) in
The Royal was established in Liverpool in and its fire-plate incorporates the crect of that city - cormorant (commonly known as the Liver Bird) with seaweed in its mouth (69).
Notes and Authorities
(1) See - W.A. Bewes: Church Briefs or Royal warrants for Collections for Charitable Objects:
(2) Surrey Quarter Sessions Records: Vol.vi, Order Book and Sessions Rolls Surrey County Council: l p
(3) The Parish Registers of Sanderstead, Surrey: Surrey Parish Register Society: Vol.IV: p
(4) W. Bruce Bannerman: The Parish Registers of Putney, Surrey: Vol. i, p
(5) 19 Geo. IV, cap An Act to abolish Briefs.
(6) W .W. Blackstock: The Historical Literature of Fire Insurance in Great Britain pp/9.
(7) Dictionary of National Biography.
(8) T.F. Reddaway: The rebuilding of London after the Great Fire p
(9) Stephen Wren: Parentalia, or Memoirs of the Family of Wrens: p
(10) Francis Boyer Relton: An Account of the Fire Insurance Companies etc. in Great Britain and Ireland: p
(11) This subject is fully discussed in - Harold E. Raynes: A History of British Insurance: 2nd edn. pp
(12) Narcissus Luttrel: A Brief Historical Relation of State Affairs from September to April O.U.P.: Vol.1, p.l35, under date 13 October
(13) Blackstock: Op. Cit.: p
(14) Raynes: Op. Cit.: p
(15) Mercurius Civicus: 12 May Quoted in Blackstock: p
(16) Blackstock: p
(17) Relton: p
(18) Edward Baumer: The early days of the Sun Fire Office: p
(19) P.G.M. Dickson: The Sun Insurance Office ; p
(20) Conflagrations are officially described as fires in which more than one property is involved. Walford lists "great fires" in England alone between and - Cornelius Walford: The Insurance Cyclopaedia: Vol.iv: pp
(21) Walford: Op. Cit.: Vol.IV; pp.
(22) An Act for Preventing and Suppressing of Fires within the City of London and Liberties thereof.
(23) Bertram Williams: Fire Marks and Insurance Office Fire Brigades: p
(24) Ibid: p
(25) 6 Anne, cap An Act for the better preventing of mischiefs that may happen by fire: clause II.
(26) Williams: p
(27) Ibid: pp
(28) Relton: p
(29) Walford: Vol.iii: p
(30) Percy Collins: A Chat about Fire-Marks: Quoted by G.A. Fothergill: British Fire-Marks: Edinburgh: p
(31) See for instance G.V. Blackstone: A History of the British Fire Service: p
(32) The Penny Magazine: 18 July Quoted by Mr. E.Nugent Linaker in the Bulletin of the Fire-Mark Circle: No, p
(33) Information kindly given by the Sun Alliance and London Insurance Group, per Mr. W.E.H. Fuller, Archivist.
(34) Blackstone: Op. Cit.: p
(35) 28&29 Vict., cap An Act for the Establishment of a Fire Brigade in the Metropolis.
(36) Williams: p
(37) Cecil T. Davis: Fire Insurance Wall Marks: in Fire and Water, Vol.xii, no, January
(38) Walford: Vol.iii: p
(39) Relton: p
(40) Walford: Vol.iii: p
(42) Relton: p
(43) Information kindly supplied by the Commercial Union Assurance Co. Ltd., per Mr. K.W. Benbow, Manager, Hand-In-Hand branch.
(44) Guildhall Library, MS /, fol
(45) Information kindly supplied by the Sun Alliance and London Insurance Group; per Mr. W.E.H. Fuller, F.C.I.I., Archivist.
(47) Information kindly supplied by the Phoenix Assurance Company Limited; per Mr. G.M. Hayward, curator.
(48) In this section I have only described those companies and societies which have issued the marks and plates mentioned in the preceding section on local examples.
(49) The Hand-In-Hand Insurance Society: Bicentenary Notice: p
(50) Blackstock: p
(51) Bicentenary Notice.
(52) Relton: p
(53) Southey's edn. of Cowper's Works: Vol.ix: p Qutoed in Relton: p
(54) Dickson: p.l3.
(55) Bryant Lillywhite: London Coffee Houses: pp
(56) Williams: p
(57) Blackstock: pp
(58) Walford: Vol.iii: p
(59) Ibid: p
(60) Ibid: p
(61) Raynes: p
(62) This date is Old Style, before the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar. We should call this
(63) Hand-In-Hand Bicentenary Notice: p
(64) Relton: p
(65) W.N. Whymper: The Royal Exchange Assurance. An Historical Sketch: p.9
(66) Walford: Vol.iv: p
(67) Blackstock: p
(68) Aubrey Noakes: The County Fire Office p
(69) Fothergill: p.l
Besides the authorities listed above, the following are the best books for the study of fire marks:-
1. Alwin B. Bulau: Footprints of Assurance: New York:
2. Bertram Williams: Specimens of British Fire-Marks:
The Fire Mark Circle exists for the encouragement of interest in and study of fire marks, The secretary is Mr. J.J. Williamson, 21 Winston Drive, Bexhill-On-Sea, Sussex.
A number of museums have collections of fire marks. The best in this part of the country are:-
1. The Chartered Insurance Institute, Aldermanbury, E.C
2. The Guildhall Museum, Basinghall Street, E.C
All books copyright © R G M Baker, all rights reserved.
Images © M J Baker and S A Baker, all rights reserved.
Web page design © M J Baker and S A Baker, all rights reserved.
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the china international service trade fair (service trade fair) will be held in beijing from september 2nd to 7th. meanwhile, the global service trade summit will be held on september 2. president xi jinping will deliver a speech at the global service trade summit via video.
as one of the three major exhibition platforms for china's opening to the outside world, the service trade fair has become a leading event in the field of global service trade, and is a close link between china and the world. people from many countries and the media expressed that they look forward to the service trade fair that will continue to provide opportunities for all parties to deepen cooperation, build consensus, and promote global economic recovery in the post-epidemic era.
"service trade fair has become an important global platform"
this year, the service trade fair will host 5 summit forums, forum meetings and promotion and negotiation activities, as well as 8 side events. more than 10, companies from countries and regions have registered to participate in the exhibition, and the world's top and industry-leading companies accounted for 18%, an increase of 9 percentage points from the previous time. the heads of exhibitors and enterprises said that the increase in the attractiveness of the service trade fair stems from china's open cooperation environment and broad development prospects.
tang zhimin, director of the china-asean studies center of the chia university school of management in thailand, said that this year's service trade fair will cover all major areas of service trade, build a platform and provide opportunities for international service trade cooperation, and will inject impetus into the development of global service trade.
"during the service trade fair in , we participated in the winter sports special exhibition, and the response was very good." thomas tajuman, general manager of the czech ski brand alpine china market, said that many european brands have gained more cooperation opportunities through the service trade fair. . "as the beijing winter olympics approach, china's ice and snow sports market will usher in rapid growth. this is a good development opportunity for us."
zvi schiller, chairman of the israel robotics association, said that many professionals and investors are expected to participate in this service trade fair. china has a huge market and strong manufacturing capabilities, and the association is considering establishing a joint r&d center with china.
the panamanian "star" published an article that panama regards the service trade fair as an important boost to the global economic recovery in the post-epidemic era. mark garcia, senior regional consultant of lixin certified public accountants in panama business consulting company, believes that the trade in service is an excellent opportunity to promote cooperation between panama and china in the field of digital economy services. "the service trade fair can allow foreign investors to better understand china, as well as the service trade support and facilitation measures china provides, which will further enhance investors' confidence in long-term investment in china."
"china has become a major trading partner of many countries. the holding of the service trade fair not only conveys to the world china's confidence in opening up to the outside world, but also promotes trade exchanges between china and other economies and builds an important platform for exchanges and cooperation. "brazil business leaders organization china chairman everton monezi said.
wesley douglas, director of the african carbon exchange, is very pleased to see that this year's service trade will include carbon peaking and carbon neutrality as a key issue. “the service trade fair has become an important global platform, and this platform is helpful for solving global problems.” he said that china has provided an important reference for developing countries to practice green development, and african countries have a strong desire for green economic development. , there is an urgent need for related investment and technology introduction. africa and china have great potential for cooperation in these areas.
"digital technology brings hope to the future"
in his speech at the service trade conference global service trade summit, president xi jinping emphasized that it is necessary to comply with the development trend of digitalization, networking, and intelligence, and work together to eliminate the "digital divide" and promote the digitalization of service trade. the theme of this year's service trade fair is "digital opens up the future, service promotes development". visitors will experience various innovative service products and the latest technologies provided by domestic and foreign enterprises through the service trade fair. in particular, new services centered on the digital economy have received widespread attention from the international community.
yukio kajida, a professor at chuo university in japan, said that in the post-epidemic era, the importance of the digital economy has become more and more prominent. governments and enterprises of various countries are actively promoting the development of the digital economy, and china is at the forefront of this field. this year's service trade fair uses "digitalization" as a key word, which will help promote cooperation and exchanges between global companies in the new situation, and further contribute to global technological innovation, economic development and improvement of people's lives. trade in services will become an important force to promote the recovery of the world economy.
everton monezi said that china’s experience in promoting the application of electronic payment technology is worth learning from latin america. latin american countries are starting to revitalize their economies in order to achieve long-term sustainable development. the service trade fair provides a high-level platform for cooperation between latin america and china, allowing more high-quality latin american companies to enter the chinese market and contribute to the recovery of the world economy.
"digital technology brings hope to the future." susanna gutkovska, acting chief representative of the beijing office of the polish national tourism administration, said that this year's "cloud showroom" at the service trade fair provided them with the opportunity to contact and communicate with their chinese partners. an opportunity for chinese tourists to issue invitations. poland's primorsky province and warsaw tourism organization set up booths in the yunshang exhibition hall to attract visitors. the holding of the service trade fair will help the recovery of the global tourism industry.
karl fei, a professor at the business school of aalto university in finland, believes that china has accumulated a lot of experience in the development of the digital economy. for example, the government provides policy support for enterprises, revitalizes the domestic market for digital services, and supports and encourages innovative companies in this field. share and discuss these experiences with all parties at the service trade conference.
"it is of great significance to the recovery of the world economy"
according to data from the ministry of commerce of china, despite the impact of the epidemic, china's total service imports and exports in will still exceed rmb trillion. in the first half of this year, the added value of china's service industry reached trillion yuan, accounting for % of gdp, providing strong support for the high-quality development of service trade. international sources said that under the background of economic globalization, china's economy is open and inclusive, opening its doors to embrace companies from all over the world, and will contribute wisdom and strength to the deepening of global service trade and investment cooperation.
for sale with % quality guaranteed Sand casting Match plate Fire insurance Plaque United Frontier Mutual Instant delivery from stockas the guest country of this year's service and trade fair, ireland has not only set up exhibition areas for investment, food, health, education, etc., it will also show the unique charm of ireland through ethnic dance performances and movies. four institutions including the irish food board, the trade and technology board, the investment development board, and the tourism board will appear together on the stage of the service trade fair for the first time. fenbar cleary, vice president of the irish-china science and technology exchange association, said that china's total service trade imports may reach us$10 trillion in the next 15 years, which contains huge market opportunities.
mohamed farahart, director of the egyptian pyramid politics and strategic research center, said that the service and trade will build a sound framework for international cooperation, create a healthier business and investment environment, help establish a new operating structure and trade network, and promote service trade. , investment and capital flow.
lu yaoqun, director of the institute of governance and sustainable development of the national university of singapore business school, said that the service trade association is an excellent platform to promote the development of free trade and common prosperity between china, asia and the rest of the world. the service trade association once again confirmed china's long-term commitment to the idea of building a community with a shared future for mankind.
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tang zhimin said that open and inclusive service trade is also an important part of the regional comprehensive economic partnership agreement. china has used practical actions to create an open and inclusive environment for cooperation through the holding of service trade fairs and china international import expo. "under the current economic situation, china insists on expanding its opening up to the outside world and leading global cooperation. these measures are of great significance to the recovery of the world economy."
hanat besek, president of the china association for the promotion of trade in kazakhstan, said that china’s opening to the outside world has evolved from the initial policy preferences to the current institutional opening, which not only benefits the chinese people, but also contributes to the economic development of neighboring countries. significant driving effect.
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Plaque antique fire insurance
Real vs Repro: How to spot original cast iron fire marks
By Robert M. Shea, CPCU, Fire Mark Circle of the Americas
Without a great deal of experience, purchasing an authentic cast iron fire mark is a daunting task. The following points and hints may be used to examine fire marks in your collection or to evaluate whether an offered mark is genuine.
Step 1. The Iron
Examine the iron. It should be a dark brown. Examine the iron on any original cast iron mark of the Fire Association of Philadelphia (FA) or the United Firemens Insurance Company, Philadelphia (UF) already in your collection. Notice the color and feel of the iron on the front and especially on the reverse. They all have rust but if the rust is soft and comes off on your hands, its probably a reproduction. (See Exhibit 1.) A number of repros are cast using an original fire mark as the pattern. The resultant reproduction will show rusting, but the rust is cast not authentic. (See Exhibit 2.) Also, if the reverse is painted or the iron has a black color, put it down. Its probably a repro.
Hint: There were no fire insurance company fire marks made of aluminum. While there are imprinted sheet brass marks, there are no verified cast brass fire marks. Also, there are no company names, logos or casting numbers on authentic fire marks. (See Exhibit 3.)
Step 2. The Mounting Holes
Check to see if the mounting holes are cast, drilled or beveled. Generally, cast iron marks should be cast. Cast holes are not perfectly circular and are uneven. The FA mountings holes are examples of cast holes. The UF mark is an example of a cast hole that is beveled. There should be no drilling marks in the mounting holes. Drilled marks in a mounting hole can be seen by using a small flashlight and a magnifying glass.
Hints: The squatty Green Tree of the Mutual Assurance Company, B, has two mounting holes; the Associated Firemens of Baltimore, B, has only one hole.
Step 3. The features of the fire marks
Except in cases of the most extreme weathering, cast iron marks will retain their features, both the front and the reverse. Again, look at the features of your FA and UF marks and try to compare. Check to see if the images are clear or blurred. Blurred images are an indication of a reproduction. (See Exhibit 4.) There are features on the reverse of all marks. How does the feature compare to an original? For example, you can easily spot many UF repros just by looking at the reverse. Originals have extensive hollow areas such as the wheel spokes. (See Exhibit 5 and Exhibit 6.)
Next, examine the edges. Are there grind or file marks on the edges? A grinding mark will leave a small, relatively smooth flat surface. Filed edges, to smooth off excess iron or sprue marks, will show horizontal lines. Grinding marks tend to indicate a poor casting or a thick sprue with the need to grind away lots of iron. File marks may only indicate just the need to finish or clean the edge. You can expect to see some of either or even both.
To get a feel for how much is acceptable, take a look at the edges of your own marks. Other odd features, such as small circular dots or bubble-like marks, may indicate a poor casting.
Hints: Water showing from the hose on an FA that has a flat top on the letter A is a reproduction. (See Exhibit 7.)
There are three distinct features to look for on a UF: There should be two distinct steam pipes side by side coming from the right top of the boiler; you should be able to see the indentations on the hub cap of the two wheels; and you should see the image of the handle at the base of the air chamber. (See Exhibit 8.)
Since its not really possible to distinguish between an original that was poorly cast and a good looking reproduction, dont bother.
Step 4: Colors
Cast iron fire marks were placed high out of reach on buildings. Gold features on a black background produced marks that were sure to be seen from the street below. Red engines or hydrants are not original even though a seller will say the red colors are original. What the seller says may be true, but that means it is a reproduction. Perhaps the red color is not original, but merely a repaint over gold or a long-worn-off gold. This is where you need to return to steps 1, 2 and 3 to make your final determination.
Get yourself a magnet, jewelers loupe, small flashlight and a plastic see through ruler for measuring.
Fire Mark Circle of the Americas is an association of collectors of fire marks and firefighting memorabilia dedicated to preserving the historical aspects of insurance and firefighting. For additional information and membership, go to www.firemarkcircle.org.
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