Z and K Antiques

Rare Leather Presentation Railroad Fire Bucket

Circa 1857: Charles Porter Nichols (1822-1905) was the train depot attendant in Springfield, Massachusetts, for over 40 years, starting as early as 1840, but has gone down in history as one of the famous early collectors of Civil War hard times tokens and GAR medals. Nichols was popular and was known affectionately to his friends as Major, not because of his own military service but becuase of his family's military accolades that stretch all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Dated January 1st, 1857, this exceptional 11 5/8" tall (not inclding handle) early American fire bucket was made for Nichols by his friend W. H. Cross, possibly a Reverend W. H. Cross, though the attribution of reverend needs further study. We have seen a lot of interesting paint decorated leather fire buckets over the years, but this is the first one we have seen that is denoted for actual use on the railroad. The condition of this truly unique bucket is spectacular with only minor wear to the top of the leather handle where it hung on a hook probably in the train station itself. The leather is well stitched, and Cross decided to use handsome rivets around the bottom rim and up the back side of the bucket along its seam. Additionally, Cross gave the bucket a base coat of dark olive green and used red, gold, brown, and black to create his complex design. The paint is finely crazed and is exaclty what we would expect from an object of over 165 years of age. This well constructed and incredibly beautiful fire bucket must have taken a long time to make and was obviously a gift to a great friend. It crosses the boundaries between fire fighting memorabilia and railroadiana and is also of interest to folk art, Civil War, and coin collectors. Talk about bells and whistles!

springfield massachusetts early american leather fire bucket major charles porter nichols

springfield massachusetts early american leather fire bucket major charles porter nichols

springfield massachusetts early american leather fire bucket major charles porter nichols

springfield massachusetts early american leather fire bucket major charles porter nichols

springfield massachusetts early american leather fire bucket major charles porter nichols

springfield massachusetts early american leather fire bucket major charles porter nichols

springfield massachusetts early american leather fire bucket major charles porter nichols

Rare Leather Presentation Railroad Fire Bucket

For Sale: $4,250

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Bob Zordani and Heidi Kellner: (217) 714-5016, Lexington, Virginia: zandk@zandkantiques.com

Z and K Antiques For Sale