George Glazer Gallery is the leading worldwide antique dealer specializing in gavels. For general information about gavel history and collecting see our online article Gavel to Gavel Coverage.
The U.S. Frigate Constitution was one of the six original frigates authorized by the fledgling U.S. government in 1794, and was launched on October 21, 1797, making it the oldest commissioned warship in the world that is still afloat. It made its first sea voyage the following year. In the first several years of the 19th century, its primary mission was to protect U.S. merchant shipping from privateers and pirates. The ship received the nickname “Old Ironsides” in a battle against a British warship during the War of 1812, in which the British ship sank and its surviving crew was captured — a major victory considering that Britain was the pre-eminent naval power of the era. The ship continued to play an important role in the war (which lasted until 1815) and was the only War of 1812 ship with all of its captains decorated by Congress. The ship was refurbished in the 1830s and made several trips to foreign waters until 1860, when it became a training ship for the U.S. Naval Academy. The Constitution was retired from active service in 1881 and moved to the Boston Navy Yard in 1897. Some repairs were made to the hull, rigging, spars and mast in 1907, with extensive restoration undertaken between 1927 and 1930. The ship also received significant restoration in 1954, 1972-75 and 1992-95. Since 1995 it has periodically participated in “tall ships” events and historical commemorations. The USS Constitution is now open to the public as a museum in Charlestown, Massachusetts.
An example of a U.S.S. Constitution relic gavel is in the Western Illinois Museum, and described extensively on their website. They also note other examples of these relic gavels:
All over the United State there are gavels made from pieces of wood from the USS Constitution. One famous gavel is in the collection of Dumbarton Oaks, a research institute in Washington D.C. This gavel was used to open the “Dumbarton Oaks Conversations” which led to the establishment of the United Nations in 1945. Other locations that have a USS Constitution gavel include: the Governor’s office of Massachusetts, the Maine Maritime Museum, Bath Maine, the Daytona Beach, Florida American Legion, the Rochester, New Hampshire chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the president of the Massachusetts Library Association, the Osterville Men’s Club of Osterville Massachusetts and the Masonic Lodge of Kinston, North Carolina.
Condition: Generally very good with only light wear and handling.
Reilly, John C., Jr. “The Constitution Gun Deck.” Naval History and Heritage Command. 5 September 2017. https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/c/the-constitution-gun-deck.html (14 April 2021).
“USS Constitution.” U.S. Navy. http://www.ussconstitution.navy.mil/historyupdate.htm (14 September 2007).
“USS Constitution Gavel.” Western Illinois Museum. 1 January 2015. http://www.wimuseum.org/uss-constitution-gavel/ (14 April 2021).
“USS Constitution.” Wikipedia. 12 September 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Constitution (14 September 2007).