CLIPPER AND MERCHANT SHIPS
The 2011 Model Ship Exhibition
“Never, in these United States,” wrote historian Samuel Eliot Morison, “has the brain of a man conceived, or the hand of man fashioned, so perfect a thing as the clipper ship.”
This summer, the Custom House Maritime Museum will unveil a model ship exhibition featuring clipper and merchant ship models, including several from its own collection.
Clippers were first built to carry goods to and from China. After the discovery of gold in California in 1848, they carried prospectors and supplies from the East Coast, to the gold fields. Earlier, this 15,000-mile trip around
the southern tip of South America took five months. But by the early 1850s speedy clippers such as the Flying Cloud had cut the time to three months.
Clippers set other records, too. In 1849, the Sea Witch sailed from Hong Kong to New York in just 74 days. Three years later, in 1852, the Challenger raced from Japan to California in 18 days. And in 1860, the Andrew Jackson sailed from New York to Liverpool, England, in 15 days. Though by then steamships, which did not depend on wind, began replacing the clippers. And thus, the golden era of these “greyhounds of the sea” was coming to an end.
LEFT: Legendary sailing ship designer and builder Donald McKay, whose first shipyard was started in Newburyport
This exhibition is proudly sponsored by