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Dimensions (inches): each: 40" long x 11" wide x 1.5" deep
Pair of fireman’s axe parade torches with wooden handles and the heads made of tin to form reservoirs for whale oil. Cloth wicks protrude from the back of each axe head, in place of the curved point. Made ca 1860-1880, there are numerous points of interest when comparing these to other known examples. One is that they are the only torches I have ever seen the iconic, Viking style, fireman’s axe form, complemented by reverse-curved handles. Across the five different reference text that I am aware of on firefighting-related object collecting, a few torches are illustrated, but only one with a Viking style head. This example is recorded by author Chuck Deluca in "Firehouse Memorabilia: A Collector's Reference" (1990, Creative Printing & Designs, Ogunquit, ME), fig. 20, p.5. The Deluca example has a wood axe style handle. A similar form is documented by Herbert Ridgeway Collins of the Smithsonian in a monograph entitled: "Political Campaign Torches" (1964, Smithsonian Press) fig. 37, p. 31. The Collins example is an illustration, as opposed to an actual torch, patented by John Dunlap and Ewalt Riedel in 1884 and illustrated in their catalogue. This is of a very different design, with a solid axe head, into which a torch of any kind could be affixed, by way of a dowel extending straight up from the head, perpendicular to it. So this type of axe is actually a handle for another torch, with the head serving as a decorative element only. The pair of fire axe torches that are the subject of this narrative are painted in black, with exceptional, early surface. Cut nails (and one screw) affix the heads to the handles. Brass chains, applied to the handles with brass eyelets, allowed them to be hung in the fire hall for decorative function, when not in use. The fact that there are two as opposed to one, allows them to be displayed crossed, which is especially nice. With so many fireman participating in parades of the 19th century, and so many political parades having taken place at night, it is nothing short of remarkable that more torches in this and/or similar styles, have for some reason not survived into the 21st century. Condition: Minor to modest, expected paint loss.
Primary Color: black
Earliest Date: 1860
Latest Date: 1880
For Sale Status: Available
Price $4,800 / pr.
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