The Postal Service has released new high-denomination stamps that feature the Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington, DC. Here are five facts about the statue.
1. It was commissioned in 1855, when the Capitol was being enlarged. When Congress authorized a larger, fireproof cast-iron dome to replace the wooden original, American sculptor Thomas Crawford was asked to create a monumental statue that would sit atop it.
2. It’s 19 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs approximately 15,000 pounds. The bronze, classical female figure wears a starred Roman helmet with a feathered eagle’s head crest and a dress with a “U.S.” inscribed brooch. She holds a sword in her right hand and a laurel wreath of victory and 13-striped shield in her left.
3. It took seven years to complete from design to installation. The design was approved in 1856, and Crawford built a full-size clay model in his Rome studio, then cast it in plaster. After shipment disruptions, halted work due to the Civil War, and construction delays, the completed statue was hoisted onto the still-unfinished Capitol dome in 1863 to a 35-gun salute.
4. It has appeared on several stamps. The Statue of Freedom was first featured on a set of stamps in 1875. The statue was featured most recently on a 3-cent stamp issued in 1950 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Washington, DC, as the nation’s capital.
5. Visitors to the Capitol can view it up close. The original plaster model is on display at the building’s visitor center, allowing guests to view details impossible to see when 288 feet below.
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