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Date: 1861
Overall: 151 x 85 mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Clipper card
Object No: 00008624

User Terms

    This pocket sized advertisement is for the clipper ship STARR KING and its passage from San Francisco to Melbourne via Hong Kong in 1861. It consists of a coloured wood-cut print on white enamel card, featuring a depiction of the Cusack shipping line's flag. The vessel was used for transporting freight on the Australian trade route.
    SignificanceClipper ship cards of the 19th century rarely survive as they were often discarded when the ship sailed. This card illustrates maritime trade and commerce in Australia during the mid-19th century.
    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.

    Most clipper cards advertise voyages that sail to San Fransisco from ports on the USA's east coast. This is a result of the San Fransisco gold rush which developed alongside the production of clipper cards. The gold rush created a demand for fast sailing vessels and in response 160 clipper ships were built in a period of four years after the discovery of gold in California.

    The rapid growth of San Francisco as a city and the population which flocked into it or through it to the goldfields brought staggering inflation in the costs of goods and services. Because of this, it was not uncommon for a vessel to pay for itself and provide a profit to the owner in one round trip voyage. That is if a round trip could be completed. Gold fever caused many crew members to abandon their ship, as they went to seek riches in the goldfields. Photographs of San Francisco Bay show it clogged with hundreds of abandoned vessels. Many of which were auctioned off to provide timber for building construction on shore. In July 1850 there were over 500 vessels deserted in the harbour.

    The STARR KING was an A! class clipper ship active on the trade route between San Fransisco, Sydney and Hong Kong. It was involved in the Australian lumber trade in 1862. In 1862 the vessel wrecked on its way from Hong Kong to Singapore.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: STARR KING

    Assigned title: STARR KING

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