Limited Edition USS Constitution Medallion
- USS Constitution Medallion
- In Defense of Freedom
- Copper from USS Constitution
- Limited Edition
This limited-edition medallion is made from copper sheathing that once clad USS Constitution’s wooden hull. The copper was installed during the ship’s 1973-1976 restoration. The newly coppered ship welcomed Queen Elizabeth during her 1976 visit. The copper was removed during the 1992-1996 restoration. Now, the USS Constitution Museum has used the same copper to create this unique collector’s item. Inspired by the Museum’s collection, it is illustrated with images celebrating the earliest years of USS Constitution’s history. On the front is a rendering of the ship based on a circa 1803 painting by Michele Felice Cornè. Painted approximately six years after the ship’s launch in 1797, Cornè’s painting is the earliest known artistic depiction of the ship that is still in existence. His detailed work provides valuable insight into the early appearance of Constitution and her rigging. Born in Elba, Cornè came to the United States in 1799 and first worked in Salem, Massachusetts before moving to Boston in 1806. He became well known for his detailed paintings of naval ships and sea battles. Cornè’s original painting of Constitution is in the collection of the USS Constitution Museum, on loan from the United States Navy.
On the back of the medallion is an artist concept rendering of USS Constitution’s original figurehead, a large full-length statue of the Roman hero, Hercules. The epitome of strength in mythology, Hercules had been proposed by Philadelphia carver, William Rush, who wrote that the ship “ought to be represented by an Herculean figure, standing on the firm rock of independence, resting one hand on the fasces which was bound by the Genius of America, and the other hand presenting a scroll of paper, supposed to be the Constitution of America, with proper appendages, the foundation of Legislation.” As an actual figurehead on the ship, however, Hercules did not last long. On September 12, 1804, while on patrol in the Mediterranean Sea, USS Constitution and USS President collided, breaking the figurehead into pieces. It was replaced by a simpler scrollwork billet head, which endured through the War of 1812. Due to its short life, the only known visual depiction of the Hercules figurehead is from Cornè’s circa 1803 painting.
This medallion is made from copper sheathing removed from the hull of USS Constitution during the ship’s 1973-1976 restoration. It measures approximately 1.52” in diameter and weighs approximately 20 grams. In 2018, a limited edition of 6,000 pieces was struck in Providence, Rhode Island under the direction of the USS Constitution Museum. This medallion is # of 6000. All sales from this medallion support the educational mission of the museum. To learn more about the museum and its collection, please visit our website.