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A clipper was a very fast ship of the 19th century that had three or more masts and a square rig.  They were generally narrow for their length, could carry limited bulk freight, small by later 19th century standards, and had a large total sail area.

Origin of the nautical term "clipper"Edit

The term "clipper" most likely derives from the verb "clip", which in former times meant, among other things, to run or fly swiftly. Dryden, the English poet, used the word "clip" to describe the swift flight of a falcon in the 17th century when he said "And, with her eagerness the quarry missed, Straight flies at check, and clips it down the wind." The ships appeared to clip along the ocean water. The term "clip" became synonymous with "speed" and was also applied to fast horses and sailing ships. "To clip it," and "going at a good clip," are familiar expressions to this day.

While the first application of the term "clipper" in a nautical sense is by no means certain, it seems to have had an American origin when applied to the Baltimore Clippers of the late 18th century. When these vessels of a new model were built, which were intended to "clip" over the waves rather than plough through them, the improved type of craft became known as "clippers" because of their speed.

Baltimore ClipperEdit

Baltimore Clipper is the colloquial name for fast sailing ships built on the south-eastern seaboard of the United States of America, especially at the port of Baltimore, Maryland. It is most commonly applied to two-masted schooners and brigantines.

Baltimore clippers were first built as small, fast sailing vessels for trade around the coastlines of the United States and the Caribbean Islands. Their hull-lines tended to be very sharp, with a "V"-shaped cross-section below the waterline and strongly raked stem, stern posts, and masts. The origins of the type are unknown but certainly hulls conforming to the concept were being built in Jamaica and Bermuda (the hull of the Bermuda sloop, designed for the open ocean, was broader than the Jamaican and deeper than the American or iroqouis) by the late 17th century and by the late 18th century were popular both in Britain and the United States.

[1][2]Drawing for the Flying Fish class, modeled on an American vessel, sent to Bermudian builders by the Admiralty.

They were especially suited to moving low-density, high value perishable cargoes such as slaves, and in that trade operated as far afield as the west coast of Africa. Similar vessels were built as privateers during the War of Independence and the War of 1812, and as pilot boats. The famous yacht America, derived from the lines of a New York pilot boat, was conceptually not far removed the Baltimore clipper. Many such vessels went to Australiaduring the Australian gold rush, or after being seized as slavers and sold.

One particularly famous Baltimore Clipper, and one of the last of the type in commercial service, was the schooner Vigilant that traded around the Danish Caribbean islands for over a century before sinking in a hurricane on September 12, 1928. She was believed to have been built in the 1790s.

[3][4]An original Baltimore Clipper. These were used as privateers during the War of 1812.

A modern replica of an early 19th-century Baltimore Clipper was the ill-fated Pride of Baltimore and her replacement Pride of Baltimore II.

Pages in category "Clipper Ships"