Antique Original American Fire Mark Green Tree Mutual Assurance Co. Philadelphia PA Cast Iron on Wood Frame 1784

This is an original Antique Fire Mark from The Mutual Assurance Co. Philadelphia, Pa. Called the Green Tree from 1784.

It is a cast iron tree mounted on a wood plaque, the plaque has a beveled edge. Plaque is 15" tall x 11 1/2" wide, tree is 12"tall x 8 1/2" high. There is a hint of the original green paint on some of the branches.

Here is some information about this mark and the company.

Fire marks also served a useful purpose. It told a revengeful arsonist that the owner would not suffer a fire loss himself. If the property were destroyed, an insurance company would indemnify the owner. This fact, no doubt, may have deterred many a would-be arsonist.

The second Philadelphia insurer, The Mutual Assurance Company for Insuring Houses from Loss by Fire, was formed in 1784 by a group of dissident Contributionship policyholders. In 1781 the Contributionship voted to not insure houses with trees in front of them, and any member having had trees would forfeit their insurance. The new company copied almost verbatim the Contributionship’s Deed of Settlement and also made a fire mark a requirement of coverage. The mark selected was a green tree on a wooden board.

The third Philadelphia insurer, the Insurance Company of North America, organized in 1792, began writing fire insurance in 1794, and made the purchase of a fire mark optional. While almost all policyholders paid extra for a "badge," or fire mark, not all did.

Two factors may have influenced the Insurance Company of North America to minimize the need for a fire mark – there were about 24 active volunteer fire companies at the time, and it was a stock insurer, not a mutual. In short, fire marks were not necessary to mark a house as insured for firefighting purposes and insurance was more of a business.

This is a very rare original mark found in New England but attributed to the Philadelphia Company. We have seen many forms of Fire Marks from various ages but this is without a doubt an original that is very rare!

Item ID: AAB-B744

$3,750 USD

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Stephan Boyer, Campbelltown, PA   

North 2 South Antiques

Member since 2009

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