The most important piece of fire-fighting equipment from the seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries was a leather fire bucket. Standard-size buckets, such as the six George Washington purchased for $19 from Philadelphia saddler and retailer William Jones on March 10, 1797, held approximately 2 ½ to 3 gallons of water or sand. Philadelphia's shoemakers crafted many of that city's buckets, which exhibit less decoration than their New England counterparts. Washington's, neatly emblazoned with his name, are typical examples. At Mount Vernon, the buckets stood ready for use in the first-floor servants' hall; and they have never left the estate. These incredibly rare survivals powerfully remind us of the very serious threat fires were to life and livelihood in the eighteenth century. More






Leather, paint, hemp, possibly linen (thread), iron


Overall: 13 in. x 9 in. (33.02 cm x 22.86 cm)
Overall (Height of bucket): 13 in. (33.02 cm)
Overall (Diameter of rim): 8 in. (20.32 cm)
Overall (Diamter of foot): 6 1/4 in. (15.88 cm)


Transferred to the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association through the generosity of John Augustine Washington III, 1860


Stamped on underside (beneath seam at rear): "P·ABEL"

Object Number



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