17-L. Button (1868)

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Year 1868; 156 years ago (1868)
Type Pumper


  • Apparatus Type: Pumper
  • Apparatus Sub Type: Hand Pumper
  • Manufacturer: L. Button
  • Year: 1868
  • Serial Number: 590
  • Color: Black over red



Pump & Tank





  • Cost: $1,200 (equivalent to $24,429 in 2021)
  • Delivery Date: October 1868


  • Misc. History: Sold at auction in 2012 for $115,500 (equivalent to $136,326 in 2021)

This Button pumper was delivered new to the Columbian Engine Company, of Spring Valley, New York, and became its second piece of apparatus when delivered in 1868. The Columbians sold it around 1890 to a competition muster association in Winchendon, Massachusetts. Renamed the “Columbia” at that time, it competed in events of the New England States Veteran Firemen’s League into the 1920s, winning more than $9,000 in prize money. Sold to the Boston Fire Department in 1945, it continued to compete until put on exhibit in the Boston Sparks Fire Museum. It was acquired by the Granite Handtub Association, Inc., in 2004 and has since been restored to factory-original condition.

Weighing about 6,000 pounds and with brass brake arms 22 feet in length, it takes 50 to 60 people to pump at full capacity, although as few as 10 can deliver water at a lower pace. The water box is the original Cuban mahogany, and the double air chamber can develop more than 150 pounds of pressure with the original 10-inch cylinders. Built with three discharges, two were disconnected when it went into muster competition. The handtub is beautifully decorated with gold leaf, much of it copied from original artwork discovered during the restoration. It comes complete with a bell, suction hose, and hand-pull, as well as vehicle-pull tongues and chocks.