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A1 Clipper Bark MABEL card

Date: 1877
Overall: 162 x 102 mm
Medium: Ink on card
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Clipper card
Object No: 00046742

User Terms

    This clipper card for the MABEL advertises the sailing from Boston Massachusetts to Sydney via Capetown in 1877. The MABEL made several voyages to Australia and New Zealand in the late 1870's and early 1880's. Kerosene was a major part of the cargo on these voyages as Australia was a large importer of this fuel.
    SignificanceClipper ship cards rarely survive as they were usually discarded when the ships departure date passed. This example is representative of the prominent shipping line Henry W Peabody & Co, which was active on the Australian trade route.
    HistoryClipper ship cards were one of the advertising methods used by ship owners to promote their vessels and transport schedules. In colourful print and bold designs they publicised the supposedly superior qualities of each vessel, often using images of maritime scenes, mythology, patriotism and women to promote their cause. The cards were largely manufactured during the late-19th century and were designed to be handed out at the docks. They were brighter and more appealing than the newspaper advertisements of the time but often used similar wording. They could be printed in up to seven different colours including blue, red, green white, black, brown, and yellow. Some printers also used gold, bronze and purple.

    The majority of clipper cards were produced when the popularity of the clipper ship was dwindling and merchants were opting for faster steam powered vessels. Clipper ships were largely active between 1845 and 1875. Their design concentrated on speed instead of cargo capacity, which was a great benefit for shipping companies eager to transport goods quickly. The sleek and graceful ships generated a sense of romance, competition, national pride and innovative technology. They were a symbol of American modernity and fundamental to the expanding global economy.

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