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On the wall of my office in Atlanta is a foot-long wooden shield on which are four leaden hands in the form of a firemen’s carry and the date “1752″ beneath them. In some office file drawer in Philadelphia is a document I signed many years ago, agreeing never to bring that shield into the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. On the back of the wooden shield is stamped the words “Policy No.” The shield, with its leaden hands and date, represents an unissued fire insurance policy from the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insuring of Houses from Loss by Fire. 

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