Antique Fire Extinguishers

Antique Fire Extinguishers and Accessories

Antique Fire Extinguishers

A Greek inventor and mathematician Tesibius 250 BC invented a manual pump, and a human chain was organized to pass for the buckets of water to stop the fire. In medieval times, people would use so-called “squirts”. It looked a bit like a pump for a bike. The nozzle of the “squirt” was put into a pool and then about 1 litre of water was extracted when the plunge was pulled out. The squirt full of water would then deliver it to the fire, and the plunger was pushed down again to repeat the process. Those where the ones used in the Great Fire of London in the 1666.

During the industrial revolution in 1819, Captain George William Manby gave the world a modern version of a fire extinguisher, and it was comprised of a 14-litres-vessel made of copper and filled with the compressed potassium carbonate.

Antique fire extinguishers are still used in modern homes and are available for sale in all over the world, thanks to memorabilia enthusiasts. One particular item which always draws attention is the antique fire extinguisher.

Fire Extinguishers (Antique)

Pyrene manufactured the carbon tetrachloride extinguishers — the version we deem “antique”. This version is characterized by chrome holding cylinder or a brass holding cylinder. Elkhart is another popular fire extinguisher company which started in 1902. They were responsible for the invention of the first ball-type nozzle to shut off the extinguisher which was created in the 1920s. Still in operation, the design has continued to advance with time. While every house, building, school, or office had a glass grenade—a fire extinguisher—it was discovered that the chemical compounds inside caused respiratory problems when inhaled. Soon the liquid was changed to salt water to avoid this problem.


The glass fire extinguisher grenades were typically six to eight inches high. They had a narrow neck with a round body and were sealed with cement and a cork. The cement seal prevented the liquid from escaping should the cork shrink. Other versions had a foil seal placed over the cork to create additional protection. There was often a wire loop on the neck used to hang the grenade from a hook on the wall or a nail. Often, two or three of these grenades were sold at time in a wire basket.

Collector’s Pieces

Harden Hand Fire Extinguisher Company of Chicago created one and one half pint grenades and one quart sized grenades which featured vertical ribs with an embossed star or a pattern which was diamond quilted. Some of the earlier designs showcase a footed base. The glass used was often cobalt blue. This design is the most popular of antique fire extinguishers. There is a rare design manufactured by Harden in 1889 which contained three separate sections which were all held together with a wire. One of these sections was clear glass while the second section was made out of amber glass and the third section made out of cobalt blue glass. Hayward’s Hand Fire Grenade was located in New York and produced fire extinguishers which were available in smoke coloured glass, amber glass, blue glass and green glass. Babcock Hand Grenade Non-freezing is another popular one made by Babcock manufactured in the same colours: blue, green, amber, or clear glass.

The fire extinguisher bottles were similar to fire grenades, though both remain popular antique pieces. The latter were meant to be destroyed when thrown into a fire while the former were anticipated to survive as they released dry chemicals on top of the fire. Early automobiles had fire extinguishers mounted to the cars to put out engine fires.
A popular design out of Dri Gas Fire Extinguisher is a thirteen inch long bottle with a diamond quilted pattern. The bottle contained a brown, dry chemical. On the back of the bottle are directions which inform the user to throw the contents at the base of a fire by using quickly swinging motions. Larkin Fire Extinguisher created a collector’s bottle which was made out of brown glass, containing a dry chemical. These are unique for collectors because each was made in a different shape or pattern with a bottle cap top and a mounting bracket.


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