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    Lieutenant John L. Worden, Commander of the Ironclad U.S.S. Monitor, 18K Gold Presentation Snuffbox by Tiffany & Company, a Gift from the Citizens of Buffalo, New York, March 9, 1862. This incredible snuffbox measures 3 5/8-inches by 2 3/8-inches and stands ¾-inch high. It is unmarked but is 18 karat gold. The weight is approximately 255 grams. The box is bordered around the top and bottom with an applied gold rope. There is also an applied oval gold rope on the top of the box that measures 3-inches by 1 3/4-inches, Within the oval is a delicately engraved battle scene showing the United States Navy ironclad the U.S.S. Monitor firing on the Confederate ironclad C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimac) with the U.S.S. Minnesota in the background. Above the battle scene is the inscription, "Lieut. John L. Worden, U.S.N. / From the Citizens of Buffalo, N.Y. / April 8th, 1862". At the bottom of the oval is the inscription, "YOU BEAT THE MERRIMAC AND SAVED THE MINNESOTA". Between the oval frame and the rope border on the lid are engraved nautical motifs such as fouled anchors, laurel wreaths, crossed naval cannons, and tridents.

    The box was commissioned by the citizens of Buffalo after a public subscription raised $300 in $5.00 contributions from 60 individuals. The New York World published the following account:

    The citizens of Buffalo upon hearing of the Monitor's victory over the Merrimac were so delighted at the act that they raised three hundred dollars, and sent it to Tiffany & Co. of this city. In return for the act, Tiffany worked up eight ounces of 18 carat gold into a box nearly four inches long, some two inches and a quarter broad, and about one inch deep. The edges of the box are ornamented with a gold twist border, representing the ship's rope-cable. On the lid, a border of the same kind encloses a broad oval, within which is engraved a very spirited engraving of the most extraordinary sea-fight of this, or any other age. Over the engraving is the inscription, "To Lieut. John L. Worden, U.S.N." and under it "You beat the Merrimac and saved the Minnesota." In the corners of the box are pretty little designs in etching of naval character. The snuffbox is a very fine one though too heavy for use, its preposterous thickness of material happily exemplifying the ironclad Monitor.

    Without a doubt, the naval duel between the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Merrimac at Hampton Roads was the most important naval battle of the Civil War in so far as the development of future navies. The battle received worldwide attention, and it had immediate effects on navies around the world. The preeminent naval powers, Great Britain and France, halted further construction of wooden-hulled ships, and others followed suit. The age of the ironclad ship had begun.

    John Lorimer Worden was born on March 12, 1818 in the town of Mt. Pleasant, New York. He became a midshipman in the United States Navy in 1834 at the age of 16. He was promoted to the Rank of Lieutenant in 1846 and served off the California coast during the Mexican War.

    Brought to Washington early in 1861, he received orders in April to carry secret dispatches south to the warships at Pensacola. During the return journey north, Worden was arrested near Montgomery, Alabama, and was held prisoner until exchanged about seven months later.

    Though still ill as a result of his imprisonment, Lieutenant Worden accepted orders to command the new ironclad Monitor on 16 January 1862. He reported to her building site at Greenpoint in Brooklyn on Long Island and supervised her completion. He placed the new warship in commission at the New York Navy Yard on 25 February and two days later sailed for Hampton Roads. On the afternoon of 8 March, Worden's command approached Cape Henry, Virginia, while inside Hampton Roads, the Confederacy's own ironclad, C.S.S. Virginia, wreaked havoc with the Union Navy's wooden blockading fleet. At daybreak on the 9th, Virginia emerged once more from behind Sewell's Point to complete her reduction of the Federal fleet at Hampton Roads. As the Confederate ironclad approached Minnesota, Worden maneuvered Monitor from the grounded ship's shadow to engage Virginia in the battle that revolutionized naval warfare. For four hours, the two iron-plated ships maneuvered in the narrow channel of Hampton Roads, pouring shot and shell at one another to almost no visible effect. Monitor withdrew from the battle temporarily and, upon her return to the scene, found that Virginia, too, had withdrawn. The first battle between steam-driven, armored ships had ended in a draw, but the Minnesota, the target of the Virginia, was saved.

    After the battle, Worden moved ashore to convalesce from his wounds he received. During that recuperative period, he received the accolade of a grateful nation, the official thanks of the United States Congress, and promotion to commander. Worden received orders to shore duty in conjunction with the construction of ironclads in New York. That assignment lasted until the late 1860s. In 1869, Commodore Worden began a five-year tour as Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy. In 1872, Worden was promoted to Rear Admiral. He died in Washington, D.C. in 1897.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2012
    9th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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