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CATEGORY

Souvenirs

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Souvenirs made of materials from USS Constitution have long been popular collectibles. The tradition may have began in 1823, when Captain Isaac Hull had a small round box made from Constitution live oak and presented it to the collections of the Boston Athenaeum.

By the time “Old Ironsides” entered the newly completed dry dock in the Charlestown Navy Yard in 1833 for rebuilding, the ship had made her mark as a famous ship. Throngs of Bostonians and dignitaries gathered as Constitution, once again under the command of her old captain Isaac Hull, gently glided into dry dock for a period of repair.

Hull, who made the long trip from the Washington Navy Yard where he was commandant, ordered all the wood and copper removed from Constitution sent to Washington for reuse. He had canes, boxes and other souvenirs made from the materials, and sent the trinkets to friends and public officials throughout the United States.

In a way, Isaac Hull initiated the longstanding desire for items produced from the timbers and fastenings of the famous ship. Each of the ship’s subsequent major refits was followed by a flood of souvenirs. The reuse of this discarded material underscores the importance of Constitution as an icon to Americans of the time. The ship’s fame, and the popularity of collecting souvenirs made from her discarded parts, continues today.

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