New York City Engine Co. No. 4 with their elaborately detailed engine Niagara.

Fire Gold

Restoring the gold leaf decoration
on antique fire apparatus...

I work with restorers, museums, collectors and old firemen to recreate the decoration on antique fire engines. Great care is taken to accurately document and research each vehicle's unique designs. They are a part of the engine's history. 23 karat gold leaf is hand applied. Scroll work, lettering and stripes are painted in the styles of the original craftsmen.

Gold leaf fire engine scroll by Peter Achorn. 1924 American LaFrance chemical engine restored by Firefly Restoration. 1910 Nott steam fire engine restored by the Tucson Fire Dept. Gold leaf scroll restored on an American LaFrance steam fire engine. 1888 Rumsey hand engine restored by Firefly Restoration. Hand painted and gilded ornament on 1888 Rumsey hand engine. Ornament on 1857 Button & Blake hand engine by Peter Achorn. Fire Gold paint shop with restored fire engines coming and going. Gilding and lettering on tool box of restored Eagle Hose Carriage the proud Alexandria Fire Dept. 1927 American LaFrance frame scroll by Peter Achorn. Camden Maine harbor before me.

    In addition to fire engines, I also hand letter names on boats along the coast of Maine. My early career was in sign painting. I was an apprentice before computers, when most signs were hand painted. I still use letter styles that I learned then, constructed with brush strokes. These 19th century letters look at home on sail boat transoms.

Peter Achorn painting FDNY Marine One's shield on smokestack of Fireboat John D. McKean. Camden harbor 1990s Brilliant sails from the Mystic Seaport Museum. The baot was restored at Rockport Marine. Lettering and stripe were documented and restored in gold leaf by Peter Achorn. Vintage Maine lobster boats with the other end lettered by Peter Achorn. Evergreen name engine turned gold. Gold leaf name Morning Glory in brush calligraphy.Islesboro Maine summer morning fog lifting.Lettering and stripes on a small Budweiser parade wagon. Pin-stripes on a horse drawn Hansom cab. Gilding on the consol of a Wurlitzer pipe organ.Gold American LaFrance scrolls by Peter Achorn

    The second half of this web site has no photos of my work. It contains images showing original painted decoration on early fire apparatus. I have been building an archive of elements and styles used by artisans on American fire engines. In this section I would like to share some of these images with interested people.

    There are hundreds of books on fire engines. I have only found a few paragraphs in a very few books about the artwork on the engines.
    As I restored these engines I wondered why such opulent ornaments are found on what could be a simple wheeled pump? Who decided to have these machines built like this? What was it like back then to make one of these high-tech engines?
    I feel a kinship with these unnamed artisans and want their work to be seen. Their invention, skill, pride, energy and morality are rare in today's art.

Antique fire engine with oil painting, wood carving, bronze casting, black smithing, steel casting, gilding, pin-striping and more skills displayed. Firemen mustering in New York City.  Tinted photo of members of the Charleston Phoenix Engine Co. Framed oil portrait of New York City Eagle Engine No. 13.Original scroll on a 1900 Rumsey ladder truck. Alexandria Fire Dept. mechanics with their machines.
    Below is an overview of this site, with links to each section.
Click here to go to pages about Fire Gold and links to other sites.
about Fire Gold
  Here you can find a little bit more about myself and my shop. There are also profiles of some restorers I have worked with, and links to other interesting web sites.
Click here to go to pages about fire engine decoration restored by Peter Achorn.
Fire Restorations
  This section has photos of restored decoration on dozens of American fire engines. There are pages of hand engines, steam engines and motorized engines built between 1838 and 1941.
Click here to go to pages about boat lettering, sign painting and gilding.
other Jobs
  I am interested in hand lettering, pin-striping and gilding. Samples of my work are shown here. There are many examples of hand painted letter styles on boats, signs and a variety of objects.
Click here to go to pages about firefighters and the art world of early America.
Firemen & Artists
  There was a unique relationship between firemen and artists in young America. This started a tradition of bold ornamentation on fire apparatus that has lasted to today. This section is about the people that made fire engines look the way they do.
Click here to go to pages about art history and fashion effecting fire art.
History & Fashion
  The decoration on the equipment and uniforms of firemen changed with the fashions of the day. The industrial revolution offered artisans new materials and techniques to work with as the decades passed.
Click here to go to an archive of art and decoration on fire fighting equipment.
Fire Art
   This is a loosely chronological archive of art found on American fire service equipment from my reference library. This started as a file folder on my computer that got out of hand.

I apologize that some of the links on the navigation Menu up top don't work. It is a puzzel I have not solved. Most of the unmenuable pages are in the last two sections, so I'll place old-fashioned links to them on the History and Fire Art pages.

Thanks, the Management

1863 Eagle Engine Co No 3 pose by hand engine. hand-in-hand pin Early steamer on city street.

Let me say right here,
that I am not a mechanic...
     I do not sell fire engines or fire engine parts. If you have technical questions or want to buy something, please contact someone listed on the People & Places page of this site.

When flame jobs go bad.
All photos, artwork and information are copyrighted by Peter Achorn and Fire Gold.  © 1999-2015 all rights reserved.
Any perceived copyright infringements are unintentional and will be removed upon request.