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Approaching the Finish Line. Clipper Ships Racing for the Harbor

Major collection: Hart Nautical
Named collection: Arthur H. Clark Collection
Object type: lithograph
Maker: unknown
Place made: unknown
Date made: 1866
Materials: ink; paper; board
Measurements: 14 in x 24 in
Nomenclature: Great Tea Race of 1866; tea clippers
Classification: racing

A depiction of the final tense moments of the British tea clipper ships the 'Taeping' and 'Ariel' racing up the English Channel towards the finish line in the Great Tea Race of 1866. There was a great spirit of competition between tea clippers which would swiftly sail through the South China Sea, into the Indian Ocean, round the Cape of Good Hope, then navigate north across the Atlantic to be towed down the Thames by tug boats. The winning ship could earn a premium of up to sixpence per lb for their cargo. The races electrified the population of London. The Great Tea Race of 1866 started on May 28th was a close race between the 'Taeping,' 'Fiery Cross,' 'Serica,' and 'Ariel.' The 'Ariel' and the 'Taeping' were neck and neck entering the Channel, but the tug of 'Taeping' was faster and beat 'Ariel' by just 20 minutes. 'Serica' docked just a few hours later and the 'Fiery Cross' less than 48 hours later. This print, owned by Arthur H. Clark was used as one of the 39 illustrations in his book, 'The Clipper Ship Era: An Epitome of Famous American and British Clipper Ships, Their Owners, Builders, Commanders, and Crews 1843-1869,' published in 1911. The illustration is on p. 328.


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