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Copy of a handbill for the Baltimore clipper ISABELLA

Date: c 1936
Overall: 355 x 266 mm, 5 mm, 0.05 kg
Medium: Pencil on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Maurice Deane
Object Copyright:
Object Name: Handbill
Object No: 00008297

User Terms

    This card features a design copied from an original clipper ship card of 1852. The clipper card advertised freight and passage on board the Baltimore ship ISABELLA, travelling to Sydney via Honolulu. The discovery of gold in California and Australia during the 1850's attracted thousands of miners and their families, many criss-crossed the ocean in search of wealth. This card was hand drawn on paper by the grandson of the ISABELLA's Captain, Master Deane. Deane was present on the Californian and Australian gold fields.
    SignificanceThis handbill is representative of an early clipper ship card. It highlights the mass movement of people between America and Australia as a result of the gold rush in 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 from ports on the USA's east coast to San Francisco. This is a result of the San Francisco gold rush which developed alongside the production of clipper cards. The gold rush created a demand for fast sailing passenger ships. In response 160 clipper ships were built in a period of four years after the discovery of gold in California.

    The Australian gold rush of the 1850s also instigated the movement of many people. Tens of thousands of miners criss-crossed the Pacific Ocean between Australia and America, with a £20 one-way ticket buying them a bunk and space for one trunk. The trip between Sydney and San Francisco took about six weeks. Steerage accommodation was the cheapest passage that could be booked. Two passengers shared a berth that was six feet long and 3 feet wide and passengers were allowed two canvas bags to hold their clothes for a month. Each month they could access their sea chests for fresh clothes. First class cabins were approximately six feet long and seven feet wide, fitted out with a sleeping berth that was six feet long and three feet wide. Light and fresh air was provided by a port in the side of the ship or deck lights and ventilators above. Some cabins also had a wash stand or side table.

    The ISABELLA was a 400 ton Baltimore clipper ship under the command of Master Deane in 1852. It was active on the trade route between the American and Australian gold fields.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Copy of a clipper card for the ISABELLA

    Assigned title: Copy of a handbill for the Baltimore clipper ISABELLA

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