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Cane made from USS Constitution Wood

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In the summer of 1857, USS Constitution entered the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on the Piscataqua River for a major refit and conversion to a school ship. Wood removed from the ship was scooped up by souvenir hunters looking for mementos of the famous ship.

This ivory-headed cane owned by Moses A. Safford, an attorney in neighboring Kittery, Maine, was likely produced by one such souvenir craftsman. Reportedly made from Constitution wood, the cane features a silver band just below the head, engraved with his name, “M.A. Safford,” and “‘Old Iron Sides’”.

Walking sticks or canes saw their heyday in the 19th century as symbols of power and importance, rather than just aids to walking. Presenting canes to friends, colleagues, or respected public servants was a common practice, though it is uncertain whether this cane was purchased by Safford or given to him as a gift.

Date Created
1833-1835

Medium
Wood, Brass, Copper, Iron, Ivory

Dimensions
[H]35 1/2 in. [W]1 7/8 in.

Catalog Number
365.1

Credit Line
Naval History & Heritage Command Detachment Boston Loan

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