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USS Constitution Museum offers pieces of history - literally

Aug. 9, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
A medallion being offered by the USS Constitution Museum, minted from copper removed from the historic frigate during a renovation in the 1970s.
A medallion being offered by the USS Constitution Museum, minted from copper removed from the historic frigate during a renovation in the 1970s. (USS Constitution Museum)
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People can own a part of “Old Ironsides,” one of the original six ships that launched the Navy, thanks to the USS Constitution Museum.

The nonprofit museum has made commemorative coins using copper taken from the hull of the frigate, the oldest commissioned warship afloat, the museum said in a news release.

The copper was deeded to the museum by the Navy after the ship underwent restoration in the 1970s, said Stephanie Nichols, a museum spokeswoman. Ever since, the copper has been held in the museum’s basement, she said.

The ship was nicknamed “Old Ironsides” during the War of 1812 after cannonballs launched by the British bounced off its wooden sides.

The coins cost $27.95 and have an image of the ship on one side and a design of a crossed cannon and anchor over a pyramid of cannonballs on the opposite side, the news release said.

“What makes this collector’s medallion even more unique is that it’s the first of its kind that honors not only the legendary strength of Constitutionbut also the fierce courage of her crew,” said Anne Grimes Rand, president of the USS Constitution Museum, in the release.

Earnings from the coin will be used to support the museum in educating people on the history of the ship.

The museum was founded in 1972. Part of the drive behind establishing it was to find an adequate place to house artifacts that had been removed from the the ship while it was undergoing restoration in the 1970s, Nichols said.

The museum is located in Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard, across the pier from the frigate.

For more information on the coin, visit

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