Welcome to the SAILING CARD Exhibi t.

Clipper ship sailing cards, also known as dispatch cards, form a colourful part of the USA Gallery collection within the Australian National Maritime Museum. A selection of four or five of these cards are on exhibition with the Gallery at any time. This virtual exhibition has allowed us to present all of the cards which relate to voyages between the years 1851 and 1861.

Most clipper cards advertise sailings to San Francisco from ports on the east coast of the United States. This is no t surprising given that these cards originated during the goldrush period. New York was a favoured port of departure, but many of the vessels were built in and commanded by captains who came from New England. The gold rush created a demand for fast sai ling vessels which had never been seen in the United States. To meet this demand 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 floc ked 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 ro und trip could be completed. Gold fever caused many crew members to abandon their ship, as they went to seek riches in the goldfields. Contemporary photographs of San Francisco Bay show it choked with hundreds of abandoned vessels. Many of which were auctioned off to provide timber for construction of buildings on shore. In July 1850 there were over 500 vessels deserted in the harbour.

Clipper ship sailing cards were one of the advertising mediums used by owners to promote their vessels and transpo rtation schedules. They are certainly brighter and more appealing than the newspaper advertisements of the times. Clipper cards were printed in up to seven colours; blue, red, green white, black, brown, and yellow. Some printers would use gold, bronze and purple as well.The cards, however, often used similar wording to that which is seen in contemporary newspapers and smaller than handbills.

The cards are small, usually 4 x 6.5 inches. At this size they took up such little room that several could be placed in one window. Dispatch cards are relatively scarce, possibly due to the fact that they become obsolete at the time the particular vessel left port. They, more likely than not, would have been thrown out at that time.

The clipper sailing cards in this exhibition include examples from vessels on the following routes:

Boston to Melbourne

Registration No: 00006895
Sailing Card; For The Etta Loring, Advertising A Voyage To Melbourne From Boston.

Registration No: 0000 8390
Sailing Card; Clipper Barque, Ione, `Henry W. Peabody & Co., Australian Line'. Captain Atkinson. Boston to Melbourne (No date)

Registration No: 00008607
Sailing Card; For Clipper Ship Flying Eagle, Glidden And Williams Lin e, Boston To Australia (1865/6)

San Francisco to Melbourne

Registration No: 00008624
Sailing Card For The Clipper Ship Starr King, M. R. Cusack, Cusack's Line, San Francisco -Melbourne-Hong Kong-San Francicso (1855).

Registratio n No: 00008608
Sailing Card; For Clipper Young America, Coleman's California Line, San Francisco To Hong Kong To Melbourne (1856)

Registration No: 00008609
Sailing Card; For Clipper Ship Red Rover, London To Victoria (1859).

< b>San Francisco to Sydney

Registration No: 00008297
Handbill; For Baltimore Clipper, Isabella, San Francisco to Sydney via Hawaii, (1852).

Registration No: 00008623
Sailing Card For The Clipper Ship Mastiff , San Francisco To Sydney And Adelaide (1858).

San Francisco to Australia

Registration No: 00008625
Sailing Card For The Clipper Ship Storm King, Coleman's California Line, San Francisco to Australia, (1860).

The Storm King was eventually wrecke d in 1877 at Port Stephens N.S.W. on a voyage to Sydney.

New York to Sydney

Registration No: 00008610
Sailing Card; For Clipper Ship Keystone, Australia Independent Line, New York To Sydney.

New York to Melbourne

Re gistration No: 00008627
Sailing Card For The Clipper Ship Panama, Sutton & Co., New York To Melbourne, (No date).

Registration No: 00008611
Sailing Card; For The Clipper Dashing Wave, Merchants' Express Line, Melbourne (1855), Sydn ey (1863)

Registration No: 00008612
Sailing Card For The Clipper Bark Quickstep, Fisher, Ricards & Co's., New York To Melbourne, 1859.

Registration No: 00008621
Sailing Card For The Clipper Ship Panama, Mailer, Lord & Quereau, Ne w York To Melbourne, 1856.

New York to Australia

Registration No: 00008620
Sailing Card For The Clipper Ship Red Gauntlet, Goodeve, Arkell & Elliot, Australia Independent Line., New York To Australia,1857.


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< TD>IsabellaRegistration No: 00008297
Handbill; For Baltimore Clipper, Isabella, San Francisco to Sydney via Hawaii, (1852).


This handbill is inscribed, For the Australia gold mines, Sydney, via Honolulu. the fine ne w sailing Baltimore clipper, Isabella, will sail for theabove ports on or before, February 5th, 1852. 400 tonsburden. master; Deane. Her accommodations aresuperior. both cabin & steerage having been fitted upexpressly for the comfort of passengers & suppl iedwith new mattresses & etc, throughout, which render itone of the best opportunities for parties wishing aspeedy and pleasant voyage to the new gold regions.early application is necessary, as only a limitednumber will be taken. for freight or passage, a pply onboard, foot of Jackson street or to J.J. Southgate &Co.;, corner of Front street Pacific Wharf. Franklin.Book and job office, Montgomery, San Francisco'.

F.W. Deane was a Bostonian who joined the forty niners on the Yumagold diggings. He was also master of the Baltimore clipper,Isabella, advertised as sailing for the Australiangoldmines on February 5th, 1852.


IoneRegistration No: 00 008390
Sailing Card; Clipper Barque, Ione, `Henry W. Peabody & Co., Australian Line'. Captain Atkinson. Boston to Melbourne (No date)


Owned by Henry W. Peabody & Co., Australian Line this card for Ione features Peabody line flag with American & Australian motifs as heraldicemblems. It reads, Despatch for Melbourne. 520 tons register.The magnificent A1 iron clipper Barque, `Ione'.Captain Atkinson. Will be in berth in a few days andwill have quick despatch for the above port. loadingber th; Lewis Wharf.

This fine highest class vessel is well known in the Australian trade, and insures atlowest rates in both Great Britain and our own country. Carload freight landed alongside vessel fromcars. Goods to our care will recieve prompt attent ion without charge, except expenses actually incurred.for freight or passage apply to Henry W. Peabody & Co, September 9th, 1880. 114 State Street, Boston. Messrs Newell & Co., agents at Melbourne. Rand Avery & Co., printers, Boston.


Flying EagleRegistration No: 00008607
Sailing Card; For Clipper Ship Flying Eagle, Glidden And Williams Line, Boston To Australia (1865/6)

This card reads,The beautiful first classextreme clipper Flying Eagle, Glidden and Williams'Line for San Francisco from Lewis Wharf.'

The beautiful first class extreme clipper ship FlyingEagle John Hayes, Commander. This ship, so well andfavourably known to our shippers, is now in berth andin fine order for the voyage. Please send forward yourengagements promptly. For freight apply at theCalifornia Packet Office, No. 114 State Street,Boston. Agents in San Francisco, Messrs. Meader, LolorCo. Watson, pr.'


Young AmericaRegistration No: 00008608
Sailing Card; For Clipper Young America, Coleman's California Line, San Francisco T o Hong Kong To Melbourne (1856)


This sailing card reads, Coleman'sCalifornia line for San Francisco sailing regularly onadvertised day. the famous extreme A1 New-York builtclipper ship Young America D.S. Babcock, Commander,is now rapidly receiving her cargo at pier 15e(ast).r(iver), foot of Wall St.

The reputation of the Young America as a California trader is so wellknown as to need no comment. her passages have been110 days, 109 days and 108 days, respectively, andalways delivered her cargo i n superior condition. thelarge engagements already made, will enable us to giveher prompt dispatch. for balance of freight, apply toW.M.T. Coleman & Co., 88 Wall St., Tontine Building,n.b.- No sal soda taken by ships of this line.

Agents in San Francis co, Messrs. W.M.T. Coleman & Co.,exchange on San Francisco for sale, in sums to suit.Limited advance made on shipments of approvedmerchandise. Clipper Saturday, Jan.15. Nesbitt andCo., printers.'

This vessel had made previous voyages to Australia includ ing: San Francisco to Hong Kong toMelbourne (1856), Liverpool to Melbourne (1858),Liverpool to Melbourne (1860).


Red RoverRegistration No: 00008609
Sailing Card; For Clipper Ship Red Rover, London To Victoria (1859).

This card reads,Shippers' Line E & Co. San Francisco packets. Clipperof Friday, February 20th. The superior and unsurpassedclipper ship Red Rover Logan, Comman der, is nowloading at pier 28, East River, and will be dispatchedas above.

The small capacity of the Red Rover, herextreme clipper build and beauty of model, togetherwith her (already proven) fast sailing qualities, makeher the most desirable conveyanc e now on the berth.for freight, apply to John I. Earle & Co., 106 WallSt., or to Messrs. Taylor & Merrill, 36 Burling Slip.Nesbitt & Co., printers'.


KeystoneRegistration No: 00008610
Sailing Card; For Clipper Ship Keystone, Australia Independent Line, New York To Sydney.


This card reads, Australia IndependentLine for Sydney. The A1 clipper ship Keystone 1,000tons capaci ty C.C. Burnham, Commander, will bedispatched for Sydney, on or about the 24th June. TheKeystone, is a first class ship, carries her cargo ingood order, and will, no doubt, make a good run toSydney. For balance of freight or passage, apply toW.M.J. Forbes , 14 South William St. to Arknell &Hurst;, 15 William Street.


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