In January of 1764, citizens of Germantown met at town hall to discuss means to protect themselves from the terrifying ravages of fire- a daily occurrence in colonial America. Germantown, in the northwest corner of Philadelphia, was too far from the centralized Philadelphia fire companies and the roads often too poor to reach the fire in time. The decision was made to organize three separate volunteer fire companies; the Fellowship of the Upper Ward, The Fellowship of the Middle Ward and The Fellowship of the Lower Ward. The Fellowship of the Upper Ward, organized in March of 1764, located on Franklin Street, would eventually became the Franklin Fire Company and adopt the portrait of Benjamin Franklin- as the company’s symbol-honoring the founding father and Philadelphian most closely associated with the founding of the city’s fire fighting and insurance. Parade hats were worn at picnics, political and holiday parades, county fairs, military musters and pumping competitions.
This painted and decorated leather and felt parade hat for the Franklin Fire Company of Germantown will be featured in our April 26 auction of American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts.
Curious what your fine antiques will bring at auction? Freeman’s American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts department is accepting consignments of fine period furniture, decorative arts, folk art and paintings now through the end of February. Coinciding with the Philadelphia Antiques Show, our April 26th Americana sale promises to be an exciting event, and we invite you to be a part of it.
Painted and decorated leather and felt parade hat for the Franklin Fire Company, Germantown, Philadelphia, 1840-1860. Inscribed, “Franklin Fire Compy,” with the date “ 1764” on back, the initials “W.G” on the top. The hat is numbered “92” on the inside band. Estimate $8,000-$12,000
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