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The Green Tree: Highlights from the Collection of the Mutual Assurance Company of Philadelphia - April 2007
 
 
painting
 
Unknown Maker

Watchman’s Rattle, c. 1700
Wood, 8 5/8 inches long
References: Garvan and Wojtowicz 1977, 116, illus.
RS 6336


Carved wooden rattles such as this example were commonly used by watchmen and householders during the eighteenth century to warn others that a fire had broken out. Such rattles were remarkably efficient: when swung manually they made a loud clacking sound that could be heard several blocks away. The rattle was replaced by more effective alarm systems such as the bell, the telegraph, and the modern firebox.

  


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