Clipper Ship "Sweepstakes"

After James E. Buttersworth American, born England
Drawn on stone by Frances Flora Bond Palmer American, born England
Lithographed and published by Nathaniel Currier American

Not on view

Marine views and pictures of ships have long appealed to collectors and popular taste. To meet public demand, Nathaniel Currier produced dozens of lithographs of American clipper ships, which were designed for speedy transport of passengers and large cargoes to meet international merchant trade demands. When a clipper ship set a remarkable record for speed, Nathaniel Currier quickly published a print to celebrate that feat, thereby also creating good publicity for the ship's builder, owner, as well as the captain. The clipper ship "Sweepstakes," built in the New York shipyard of Jacob A. Westervelt & Sons, launched in the summer of 1853. Admired for its sleek lines and speed, "Sweepstakes" made two trips between New York City and San Francisco in 106 days, a fast pace for its day.

Nathaniel Currier, whose successful New York-based lithography firm began in 1835, produced thousands of hand-colored prints in various sizes that together create a vivid panorama of mid-to-late nineteenth century American life and its history. People eagerly acquired such lithographs featuring picturesque scenery, rural and city views, ships, railroads, portraits, hunting and fishing scenes, domestic life and numerous other subjects, as an inexpensive way to decorate their homes or business establishments. As the firm expanded, Nathaniel included his younger brother Charles in the business. In 1857, James Merritt Ives (the firm's accountant since 1852 and Charles's brother-in-law) was made a business partner; subsequently renamed Currier & Ives, the firm continued until 1907.

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