Lot 232: ISAAC HULL, Commander USS CONSTITUTION / OLD IRONSIDES Personal Tablespoon

Early American

December 10, 2016, 9:00 AM PST
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, US
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Description: Post-Revolutionary War to Civil War
Isaac Hull Commander of the USS Constitution "Old Ironsides" Personal Decorative Large Silver Table Spoon
c. 1825-30, Isaac Hull Decorative Large Silver Table Spoon, Engraved with Initials "I H" with Federal Eagle Above, with Hallmark of Robert and William Wilson of Philadelphia, Choice Extremely Fine.
This is a remarkable, very historic, Large Decorative and Hallmarked American Silver Table Spoon. This spoon has the Engraved Fancy Script Initials "I H" being made for Isaac Hull (March 9, 1773 - February 13, 1843), who was a Commodore in the United States Navy. Hull, originally from Derby, Connecticut, was the historic United States Navy Commander of the USS Constitution, also known as "Old Ironsides" during the War of 1812. On August 19, 1812, the USS Constitution encountered the British frigate HMS Guerriere at sea and pounded her to a wreck during that famous Naval battle.

The historic American Silver maker identified to the punched hallmark "R & W W" is Robert and William Wilson of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To our best knowledge this spoon was made circa 1825-30. This Decorative Silver Table Spoon measures about 9.25" long, the bowl 1.75" wide x 3.25" long, with the decorative design .75" tall on the face side of the "Fiddle" handle end. It weighs 1153.3 grains or 74.73 grams and is extremely clean bright silver in color having been well preserved. It shows light actual wear from use, extremely impressive in appearance and there are no defects. This spoon has a highly stylized American Federal Eagle device and the fancy script initials "I H" engraved below.

Robert and William Wilson (Robert&Williamwilson) were well known and highly regarded for their excellent workmanship. They were Silver Manufacturers (c. 1825-1846). This pattern's Status is "Discontinued" shown as being circa 1825. The style of Pattern: R2W4 (COIN) by ROBERT & WILLIAM WILSON, with the official description listed as: COIN SILVER, PA, 1825, with FIDDLE, WINGS.

Provenance: Estate of Helen Coolidge Woodring, daughter of Marcus A Coolidge (Senator, Mass.), and wife of Harry H. Woodring (former Governor of Kansas and Secretary of War (1936-40) under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to the present owner.

This cataloger wishes to acknowledge and thank the fine experts at the USS Constitution Museum, Building 22, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts. According to the curators at that museum, the example of Silverware from Isaac Hull in their museum collection has a much different design and is slightly smaller, being made from the hand of Baldwin Gardiner, c. 1830. Their spoon displays a chest up portrait of a dog, within a wreath of laurels. The USS Constitution museum itself holds no examples of this current design, it being much more fancy and dramatic looking Table Spoon. One may speculate that the current Federal style design may have been made specifically for and by Isaac Hull, or it may have been specially produced for presentation to him. Regardless of status, this historic spoon is thus directly related to one of America's most celebrated, heroic Navy Commanders of the War of 1812, Isaac Hull and to and the USS Constitution "Old Ironsides" itself. We have never seen another example offered of this outstanding specimen of museum quality historic silverware.

The United States Navy has named five ships in honor of Isaac Hull, including: USS Commodore Hull (1862-1865); USS Hull (Destroyer #7); USS Hull (DD-330); USS Hull (DD-350); and USS Hull (DD-945). A special Medal was made and awarded to Hull by the United States Congress. The Commodore Isaac Hull Memorial Bridge spanning the Housatonic River between Derby and Shelton is named after him.

The USS Constitution is one of the First Frigates built for the United States Navy. Launched in 1797, it was 204 ft (62 m) long and usually carried more than 50 guns and a crew of over 450. It was the successful flagship of the Tripolitan War (1801-05), and in the War of 1812 it vanquished the British frigate Guerrire; tradition holds that it was nicknamed by sailors who saw the British shot failing to penetrate its oak sides. It was condemned as unseaworthy in 1828, but Oliver Wendell Holmes's poem "Old Ironsides" sparked a public preservation campaign. Restored in 1927-31, it is now berthed in Boston and open to the public.

Isaac Hull was born in Derby, CT. in 1773. His father was a sea captain and Isaac learned his nautical skills in Derby before joining the merchant service and commanding his first ship at the age of 19. When the new United States Navy was created in 1798, Isaac Hull was appointed a lieutenant on one of the four ships built for the new navy.

When Hull attained the rank of captain in the American Navy, he was put in command of the U.S.S. Constitution. On Aug. 19, 1812 the Constitution became engaged in a battle with the Guerriere, an English Navy vessel. Within one half hour, the Constitution had won the battle, making it the first naval win for the U.S. during the War of 1812. Hull had used his heavier broadsides and his ship's superior sailing ability, while the British, to their astonishment, saw that their shot seemed to rebound harmlessly off Constitution's hull - giving her the nickname 'Old Ironsides'. This battle marked the first time in history that an English frigate had struck its flag to an American ship of war.

Hull went on to command the Portsmouth Naval Yard and build the USS Washington, the largest American battleship ever built to that time. Hull was Promoted to commodore in 1823. After Portsmouth he commanded the Pacific squadron, the Washington Navy Yard, and the Mediterranean squadron.

The U.S.S. Constitution is the oldest commissioned battleship in the U.S. Navy and is still on display in Boston Harbor.
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