Onwards and upwards! Well, at least upwards and forward. 🙂
The Constitution originally sailed with a “Herculean figure” as her figurehead, however that was torn away in an 1804 collision with the USS President. She was repaired with a billethead and carried this until she was refitted in 1809. There is a story of her getting a figure of Neptune during this period, but there is no documentation found to support this.
Either way, she got a new billethead and trailboards which she carried for the war of 1812. When she went into drydock for restoration, Captain Jesse Duncan Elliot had just been appointed the Commandant of the Boston Naval Yard and decided to honor his personal hero Andrew Jackson with a figurehead. The people of Boston were outraged. Jackson was very unpopular in Boston at that time due and the life of Captain Elliot was threatened. After the figurehead was installed, a merchantman rowed out during a thunderstorm and cut the head off. It was eventually returned and replaced on the figurehead. A new figurehead of Jackson was put on in 1848 and this is the figurehead she wore when she went in for restoration work in 1871 to prepare for the centennial.
When she came out of drydock, the figurehead was gone and a “fiddlehead” was in its place. This is essentially the look she carries today.
Take care – happy modeling!