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Insurance history

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Times have changed substantially since the dog-eat-dog days of fire marks-distinctive plaques fashioned of lead or copper that home and business owners displayed on their property to indicate that it was insured against a fire. In the 18th and 19th centuries, fire insurance providers gave these plaques to policyholders who paid in advance for their protection. If a home or business caught fire, the fire insurance provider (who also ran the fire brigade!) would look for that all-important fire mark before going to the trouble of putting out the flames. If there was no fire mark to be found, they would turn around and leave, letting the building burn.
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