3¢ U.S. Frigate Constitution
Issue Date: October 21, 1947
City: Boston, MA
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10 1/2
Color: Blue green
Issued to commemorate the 150th anniversary if the launching of the U.S. Frigate Constitution, U.S. #951 pictures an architect’s line drawing of the ship also famously known as “Old Ironsides.” Surrounding the ship are 16 stars, representing the 16 states in the Union in 1797, the year the ship was first launched.
The U. S. Frigate Constitution – “Old Ironsides”
Named for the document that established our nation’s laws, the Constitution was built in a Boston shipyard between 1794 and 1797. Its massive 204-foot long oak hull was made from trees from Massachusetts, Maine, and Georgia. The Constitution was launched on October 21, 1797.
The ship fought in battles against the Barbary pirates in 1803-4, and emerged unscathed. In the War of 1812, the Constitution fought against the British warship Guerriere. During the fighting, a sailor saw British shots bouncing off the side of the ship and exclaimed that it had “sides of iron.” “Old Ironsides” became the ship’s popular name.
Condemned as unseaworthy in 1830, the ship was brought to the public’s attention by Oliver Wendell Holmes’ poem, “Old Ironsides.” The vessel was restored and placed back in service in 1833. Decommissioned in 1855, it was again rebuilt in 1877. In 1897, it was turned into a barrack ship in Boston. Then in 1931, the ship was again commissioned into active service, and it remains so to this day. The oldest warship afloat in the world, the Constitution is anchored in Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston.