Banner and fragments
overall: 59 x 39 3/4 in.
painted: all over: "EXEMPT FIEMENS/ BENEVOLENT FUND ASSOCIATION/ NY/ EXEMPT/ ASSOCIATION/ JAN VAN H./ 23RD AND 24TH WARDS"
Silk firemen's banner of Wards 23 and 24, New York City; blue silk front panel with a painted central medallion of a bearded fireman holding a trumpet in his left hand and raising his right in front of two firemen fighting a blaze, he wears a helmet that reads, "NY/ EXEMPT/ ASSOCIATION/ JAN VAN H."; the banner is inscribed above the medallion, "EXEMPT FIREMENS/ BENEVOLENT FUND ASSOCIATION"; and below, "23RD and 24TH WARDS"; backed with yellow silk; gold metallic ribbon trimming along the edges of the banner; two metallic (oxidized) fringed tassels hang from the base; four blue silk ribbons sewn across the top; silk and paint fragments (b).
In 1816, the Common Council of New York City encouraged enlistment in fire companies by exempting firemen from jury duty and service in the militia. The term "Exempt" in association with the fire department in New York developed from this policy. In 1865, the volunteer fire departments were disbanded and replaced with professional firemen.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.