"Red Jacket" ranks among the largest and fastest American clipper ships ever built. Designed with a 255-foot deck by Boston-based Samuel Hartt Pook for the owners Seacombe and Taylor, it was built by George Thomas in Rockland, Maine, who launched it in November 1853. The name "Red Jacket" refers to Sa Go Ye Wat Ha, ("he who keeps them awake"), the great Seneca orator and leader who had aided the British during the American Revolution, earning him his British red uniform and nickname. After the Revolution, Sagoyewatha championed peace, became a defender of native American culture and a spokesman for the Iroquois confederacy in 1792, when he led Iroquois chiefs to Philadelphia, where they agreed to mediate in frontier war. During the War of 1812, Sagoyewatha fought with the Americans against the British.
In January 1854, "Red Jacket" made her first voyage from New York across the north Atlantic to Liverpool, England, where a new British owner outfitted her for Australian immigrant and cargo transport. In May 1854, the White Star Line chartered the ship to sail to Melbourne, Australia, where it arrived after sixty-nine days with approximately 450 passengers (16 of them traveling in first class cabins) -- the second fastest record at that time. In 1855, Nathaniel Currier published this print depicting the "Red Jacket" in the midst of its return journey, when it was trapped for four days in an ice field off Cape Horn. The route involved sailing round Cape Horn at the tip of South America, where, at certain times of the year, fierce winds, large waves and icebergs and ice floes floating from Antartica made the seas between the South Pacific and South Atlantic treacherous to navigate. Despite this delay, the ship reached Liverpool in seventy-three days with all its passengers and a valuable gold cargo -- reportedly about 45,000 ounces. This clipper's speed became a selling point to future passengers; "Red Jacket" continued to transport passengers and cargo back and forth between England and Australia until the early 1860s.
Inscription: In stone, below image, lower left: "DRAWN BY J.B.SMITH & SON, BROOKLYN L.I." ; lower right, "ON STONE C. PARSONS" Imprinted, below image, lower center: "Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1855 by N. Currier, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the Southern District of N.Y." Imprinted in margin, lower center: "CLIPPER SHIP "RED JACKET."/[in smaller type size]IN THE ICE OFF CAPE HORN, ON HER PASSAGE FROM AUSTRALIA TO LIVERPOOL, AUGUST 1854./[in yet smaller type size]Built by Geo. Thomas Esq. at Rockland, Me 1853 for Messrs. Seacomb & Taylor, Boston, Mass./[in smallest type size] NEW YORK, PUBLISHED BY N. CURRIER 152 NASSAU STREET."
Marking: On verso lower left, imprinted brown paper label: "A.S. COLGATE/TUXEDO PARK/TUXEDO, N.Y."
Adele S. Colgate; Donor: Adele S. Colgate (American)
Peters, Currier & Ives 1236; Conningham 1970, 1165; Gale 1283
Fred J. Peters Clipper Ship Prints by N. Currier and Currier & Ives. New York, 1930, cat. no. 14, 48-49.
Harry T. Peters Currier & Ives, Printmakers to the American People. 2 vols., Garden City, NY, 1931, cat. no. 1236.
Frederick A. Conningham, Colin Simkin Currier & Ives prints; an illustrated check list. Crown Publishers, New York, 1970, cat. no. 1165.
Gale Research Company, Bernard F. Reilly Jr. Currier & Ives, A Catalogue Raisonné: A comprehensive catalogue of the lithographs of Nathaniel Currier, James Merritt Ives and Charles Currier, including ephemera associated with the firm, 1834-1907. 1984, cat. no. 1283.