W.L.A. Leather and Iron Fire Bucket (110613_058)

W.L.A. Leather and Iron Fire Bucket

Attributed to use in Lexington, Kentucky, 1820–1821

Maker: W. Dukehalt / Balt. 

9-3/8″ dia. at top, 10-5/8″ tall excluding swing handle

Ref. No. 110613_058


This leather and wrought iron fire bucket, lettered in white paint W.L.A., is a deaccession from the Smithsonian Institution Museum in Washington, D.C. who attributed its use to the Water Line Association in Lexington, Kentucky. The museum’s records note a date of 1820-1821. Another similar bucket, presumably in better condition, was donated to the museum in 2005 so this redundant example from their collection was offered for sale.

We found no record of the Water Line Association in Lexington but did discover that an early, hollowed water line for municipal Lexington did run from the Town Branch Creek at the present day Civic Center location to the site of the Metro Bus Station on Vine Street in Lexington. That line could likely coincide with the date the museum believed of the fire bucket manufactory. A section of that sizable well-preserved line was excavated during construction for the bus station and is now on display at the Firefighters Training Center on Old Frankfort Pike in Lexington.;

The bucket has a coat of later sealer and the leather has shrunk causing two rivets at the rim to dislodge. Misshaped but otherwise good. The impressed mark on the bottom of our bucket is indecipherable but attributed by the Smithsonian to W.Dukehalt/Balt. Evidently their example is legible. They could not offer any information on the maker other than presumably made in Baltimore, Maryland.