One of fastest Down Easters built in the last quarter of the 19th Century, ORACLE launched in 1876 from builder James P. Hitchcock's Bath, Maine yard in concert with George Blair as a vessel with multiple owners under the command of Captain J.J. Humphrey of Yarmouth. Shown in a dynamic broadside by resident Liverpool ship portraitist William Howard Yorke, ORACLE has her pilot jack signal atop the foremast, ready to bring in a large cargo of wheat that she loaded at a Pacific Northwest Columbia River anchorage. In 1882 she is under the command of Captain William Morrison, whose descendants owned this original commissioned painting for more than a century.
Performed in true style of a Liverpool School artist, the ships' broadside is centered and all flags aloft for her identity clearly seen. The Perch Rock Fort lighthouse is in view, and the crew is active at the rope lines and on watch as they approach the Mersey, the ship raked with speed.
ORACLE made five westward passages and thirteen to North Atlantic ports in her seven year career, with a fastest passage of 123 days and 102 days respectively. The 222'1"L x 40'B x 24'D merchant ship listed at 1570 tons and was recorded as carrying her weight and a third more, absolutely remarkable for the speeds she reached, sometimes more than 300 miles a day.
Provenance: Captain William Morrison;
by descent through his family to a Private California Collection.
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