1917 Union Iron Works Reverse Cyanotype Print of the U.S.S. <i>Constitution</i>

U.S.S. <i>Constitution</i> 1817. Compliments of the Union Iron Works. - Main View

1917 Union Iron Works Reverse Cyanotype Print of the U.S.S. <i>Constitution</i>


The world's oldest ship still afloat.


U.S.S. Constitution 1817. Compliments of the Union Iron Works.
  1917 (undated)     30.25 x 45.75 in (76.835 x 116.205 cm)


A rare and eye-catching piece, this is a c. 1917 reverse cyanotype broadside of the U.S.S. Constitution. Known as Old Ironsides after British sailors watched cannon balls bounce off her hull during the War of 1812, the Constitution is the world's oldest ship still afloat. This beautiful piece highlights her masts, sails, and rigging, as well as the gun ports on her starboard (right) side.
The U.S.S. Constitution
The U.S.S. Constitution was launched on October 21, 1797, as one of the six original frigates ordered by the Naval Act of 1794. Constitution saw action during the Quasi-War with France (1798 - 1800), the First Barbary War (1801 - 1805), and the War of 1812 (1812 - 1815). During the War of 1812, Constitution defeated five British warships and captured numerous British merchant ships. It was during the battle with the HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812 that she earned her nickname Old Ironsides. After the War of 1812 Constitution spent five years in ordinary and getting repairs before becoming the flagship of the Mediterranean squadron in the 1820s and again in the mid-1830s. She served in the Pacific Squadron and again with the Mediterranean Squadron in the 1840s and the Africa Squadron in the 1850s. In 1860, she became a school ship at for the U.S. Naval Academy. In 1878 she transported the U.S. exhibits to the Exposition Universelle in Paris, France. Constitution retired from active service in 1881 and became a receiving ship, a position she held until she became a museum ship in 1907. She remains a museum ship berthed at Pier 1 at the former Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston.
Diazo Print or Whiteprint
The diazo print (whiteprint or diazo for short) is a photo reproductive technique best understood as a reverse cyanotype or blueprint. The process yields distinctive blue lines on white paper. Like cyanotypes, the diazo process gained popularity in architecture circles, where it was a simple and effective way to duplicate documents in the field. The earliest diazotypes appeared around 1880 and were adopted for military and field cartographic use from about 1895. The diazo process was commercialized in 1923, when the German firm, Kalle and Company, developed Ozalid, a patented diazo paper that made diazotyping even easier. By the 1950s, it supplemented cyanotypes as the reprographic technique of choice for technical drawings.
Publication History and Census
This piece was created by an unknown publisher and published c. 1917. We have located a black and white example online but have been unable to determine its source. The San Francisco Maritime Museum holds a black-and-white albumen photographic print that is 5.25 x 8.5 inches and has the same caption, however it is not digitized so we have been unable to compare this photograph with our reverse cyanotype print.


Good. Wear along original fold lines. Verso repairs to fold separations. Slight loss at a few fold intersections. Closed margin tears professionally repaired on verso. Toning.