Fire Grenades: Antique Firefighter Tools

Fire Grenades: Antique Firefighter Tools

Back in the 1870s, you would throw a glass bulb full of liquid to douse a fire. These days, fire extinguishers look pretty similar and industrial. However, the fire extinguishers of old were arguably works of art in their own right. These bulbs were made between 1870 – 1910 and were known as fire grenades.

Nov 11, 2017 @ 10:23


Whats inside?

During their heyday, Victorian-era homeowners adorned their homes with these fire grenades. They were meant to be thrown into flames (like a grenade) hard enough to shatter and let the substance inside quench the fire. The first patent for a fire grenade was given to Alanson Crane around the 1870s. The ones created before the 20th century usually had a salt water solution. Many fire grenades made after 1900 were filled with carbon tetrachloride – a substance that is highly toxic to the lungs, liver, kidneys, and brain. This substance is banned today. Since today’s fire extinguishers are filled with about 1kg of foam, it’s clear extinguishing technology has come a long way over the past century.Antique GuardX Canadian Fire Grenade

Antique GuardX Canadian Fire Grenade

Hayward’s Hand Fire Grenade

Hayward’s Hand Fire Grenade


Designs & Manufactures

Fire grenades were relatively small devices, measuring about 6-8 inches tall with a round body and slim neck. They featured patterns in the glass and usually also had the name of their manufacturer. Some of the more famous manufactures include Harden Hand Fire Extinguisher Company of Chicago, Hayward’s Hand Fire Grenade of New York City, Babcock Hand Grenade, and the Dri-Gas Fire Extinguisher Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Collecting Fire Grenades

Fire grenades are hot collector’s items today. Many of the devices are absolutely stunning to look at since colors like cobalt, green, amber, and crystal were common in the manufacturing process. Harden produced a fire grenade in 1889 that featured three separate glass sections of cobalt blue, amber, and clear glass. This is one of the most sought-out fire grenades. Since over 200 companies made fire grenades, there’s a lot of surviving examples out there that are often found hanging in vintage kitchens.H.S. Nuttins Glass Fire Extinguisher

H.S. Nuttins Glass Fire Extinguisher

1887 Harden Star Fire Grenade

1887 Harden Star Fire Grenade advertisement from Illustrated London News

Be careful handing!!

Glass fire grenades that still hold the original Carbon Tetrachloride should be handled very carefully. A HazMat team was forced to deploy to a New Hampshire antique store after a grenade with the dangerous substance broke in the shop. Everyone had to be evacuated and the resulting clean up took several hours.


Where can i find them?

They’re also spotted at estate sales, auctions, antique houses, and glass shows. Collectors have also found many fire grenades in the basements of old churches as well.Vintage Shur Stop Fire Water Grenade with hanger

Vintage Shur Stop Fire Water Grenade with hanger

Babcock fire grenade

Babcock fire grenade 

What can i expect to spend?

The average price of a fire grenade varies based on its condition and rarity. Some of the more common ones usually fetch about US$ 75, while a rarer one might get up to several hundred dollars. Ones that are still filled and sealed usually command much higher prices, sometimes well into the four figures.



Hunting for antique fire grenades can be an interesting experience. Their beauty and historical provenance can make them a welcome addition to a home’s decoration, or an interesting addition to a collection of fire-related memorabilia.Red Comet fire grenade

Red Comet fire grenade.

Red Comet fire grenade.

Detail of Red Comet fire grenade.
John Wayne Movie Posters

John Wayne Movie Posters

John Wayne is one of America’s most beloved and famous actors. He was prolific on the silver screen, having averaged a pace of 3.5 movies a year. He kept this up for five decades and appeared in 170+ motion pictures. The most sought-out collectibles from his acting career are original movie posters . They were printed across many different languages and can fetch mighty high prices based on their condition and rarityMovie posters give collectors and movie lovers alike a glimpse into how Wayne’s movies were marketed and advertised. They can also bring back a sense of nostalgia for those old enough to remember his films as they were coming outBy Jake Lopez, HGTV

Updated 11:59 PM ET, Tue January 30, 2018

Poster rarity

Experts think there are, at most, 20 movie posters from each of Wayne’s 93 pre-1945 films. Many believe the number could be less for some of his more famous movies like Stagecoach (1939) and Flying Tigers (1942)Posters from the pre-war era are rare because paper was needed for the war effort. Not much could be spared to print movie posters. In addition, movie theaters were told to return posters to the studio after use.

Angel and the Badman, 1946

Angel and the Badman, 1946The Fighting Kentuckian

The Fighting Kentuckian,1949

Poster Conditions

Many posters that were made before 1985 come with folds due to the shipping process from the printing studio to a movie theater. A lot of posters from more recent years come with a linen backing that is intended to reduce creasing and prevent wear. However, these linen backed posters are sometimes not as desired by collectors. There’s also a bevy of reproduction and reprint material out on the market. Some cinemas released small poster cards that featured some of his films as well.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, 1962

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, 1962The Searchers, 1956

The Searchers, 1956

Is Your Movie Poster Authentic?

Authentic John Wayne movie posters usually command some big money. A poster from the film Stagecoach sold in September for 31,000 UK pounds ($US 41,000) as part of a bigger auction of 66 posters. The posters were actually found by builders in Cardiff Wales while they were renovating the home of a deceased cinema owner. All of the posters were actually being used as carpet underlay in the house, but were still in pristine condition. The poster collection was so rare and in such good shape auction house Rogers Jones & Co Auctioneers couldn’t even put an estimated price on them. Some of the other posters featured Alfred Hitchcock, Sir Laurence Oliver, and Henry Fonda.

Paradise Canyon

Paradise Canyon, 1935


Many of Wayne’s posters that hit the market are not going to be in perfect pristine condition. Since they were used in theaters, they usually come with pinholes, folds, tears, tape and writing. Some people see these blemishes as part of the history behind the piece. Others opt to put a linen backing on the poster to prevent further degradation. Adding a John Wayne movie poster to any collection is sure to be a great choice. As one of the nation’s most iconic actors, and the embodiment of the American spirit, John Wayne’s legacy lives on, and his posters continue to rise in value.