The Clipper HERALD OF THE MORNING was by all accounts a great looking ship whose elegant lines and speed belied an impressive 1600 ton cargo capacity. The medium clipper was built by Hayden & Cudworth, Medford, MA, to the design of Samuel H. Pook with a length of 203 feet, breadth of 38 and depth of 23'6" at 1294 tons.
HERALD OF THE MORNING was one of the best examples of Pook's fast flat floored ships. When she was built several newspaper articles praised the ship's lines. The Mauritius Commercial Gazeteer described the bow of HERALD OF THE MORNING as "so sharp as to take the form of a razor, the keel forming the edge; there are no rails at the bow, which is quite unencumbered". An 1854 Boston Daily Atlas writer was impressed by the beauty of her accommodations, and described the ship's overall appearance: "Her stern is oval in outline, and is finely ornamented with gilded carved work. She is sheathed with yellow metal, and is painted black outside; inside she is white, and the waterways blue, and her rack rail is covered with yellow metal fore and aft."
In Yorke's fine depiction of the ship, HERALD approaches the port of Liverpool, passing Carmel Head on the tip of the Isle of Anglesey, off the northwest Welsh coast. Named for Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn, the ship's figurehead featured the graceful goddess angled out over the waves. The sun sits low infusing the entire work with warm red tones balanced by the greens of the sea. The ship has great detail including the figurehead and on deck elements with her crew hard at work. Her master is depicted amidships overseeing all details as the ship prepares to come into port. The ship is in full sail with her company and signal flags aloft. Visible in the distance to the right, the American Bark AMAZON can be identified by its mizzen signal flags and numerical code 289. To the far left and barely distinguishable in the distance is a cross channel sidewheel steamer.
HERALD OF THE MORNING had a reputation for speed. The ship was owned by Thatcher Magoun & Sons of Boston, Massachusetts whose house flag is depicted on the mainmast. At launch she sailed under the command of Captain Otis Baker, Jr. and was in service as part of the California trade. She rounded Cape Horn near the southernmost point of South America approximately 34 times in her 25 year sailing career. She is one of only 16 vessels to make the westbound passage rounding Cape Horn in less than 100 days, recording 99 days in 1855 when she sailed from New York City to San Francisco- the fastest passage that year. She was nearly lost in 1859 after striking a large sperm whale head on off Cape Horn destroying seven feet of her bow, requiring the jettisoning of part of her cargo to prevent her from sinking. The crew had to keep the pumps going all the way to port. In 1863 she carried Central Pacific locomotive No. 1 Gov. Stanford, from Boston to San Francisco.
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