Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bow Ornament Armored Cruiser New York

One of the most magnificent artifacts (and most certainly the largest) at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum is the bow ornament from the armored cruiser USS New York(ACR-2). The new steel hulled American warships built between the 1880s and early 1900s revitalized the Age of Sail tradition of bow ornaments. These ornaments were almost always used some type of patriotic/nationalist theme to them, typically with the American flag on a shield with gold trimmings around it.

But even by the day's standard, New York's ornament was extravagant. Notice the large gold eagle, mythical figures of Neptune and his court, Lady Justice is one side, Lady Liberty is on the other, and the large ribbon at the bottom with the word "EXCELSIOR" (the motto for the state of New York) written on it. The entire ornament was carved out of wood and is in remarkable shape considering New York's long service (over 40 years). Picture below is the cruiser with the ornament attahced.

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