Monday, October 17, 2011

Ship your goods overseas on a White Star Line steamer

Inside the 1919 textbook "Modern Business, Volume 15: Foreign Trade and Shipping"1 by J. Anton de Haas, there's a fascinating fold-out sample shipping invoice.

The blank contract is for shipping goods via a White Star Line steamer, and the photo on the contract shows one of the White Star Line Olympic class vessels. Of course, the most (in)famous of White Star Line's Olympic class liners was the Titanic.2

Here's a summary of the three Olympic class liners from Wikipedia:
The Cunard Line was the chief competitor to White Star. In response to Cunard's Lusitania and Mauretania, White Star ordered the Olympic class liners: Olympic, Titanic, and Britannic. While Cunard was famed for the speed of its ships, the Olympic class were to be the biggest and most luxurious ships in the world. Britannic was originally named Gigantic and 1000 feet; her name and dimensions were changed shortly after the sinking of Titanic. The Olympic was the only ship of this class that was profitable for White Star. Titanic sank on her maiden voyage, while Britannic was requisitioned by the British government before she was fully fitted, and used as a hospital ship during World War I. Britannic sank after hitting a mine on 21 November 1916.
So, most likely, it is the RMS Olympic that is featured in the image on this sample invoice. But that's essentially what the Titanic looked like, too, for a short time.

Here's some of the fine print from the invoice:
  • It is mutually agreed that the steamer shall have liberty to sail with or without pilots; to tow and assist vessels in distress; to deviate for the purpose of saving life or property: that the carrier shall have liberty to convey goods in craft and/or lighters to and from the steamer at the risk of the owners of the goods...
  • [I]n case the steamer shall be prevented from reaching her destination by Quarantine, the carrier may discharge the goods into any depot or lazaretto, and such discharge shall be deemed a final delivery under this contract, and all expenses thereby incurred on the goods shall be a lien thereon.
  • WAR CLAUSE: If and so long as the ship is insured against war risks, with a war risks insurance association under or in connection with a war risks insurance scheme of His Britannic Majesty's Government, the ship, in addition to any liberties expressed or implied in this bill of lading, shall have liberty to comply with any orders or directions as to departure, arrival, routes, ports of call, stoppages, or otherwise, however given by His Britannic Majesty's Government or any department thereof, of any person acting or purporting to act with the authority of His Britannic Majesty, or of His Britannic Majesty's Government, or of any Department thereof, or by an committee or person having, under the terms of the war risks insurance on the ship, the right to give such orders or directions, and nothing done or not done by reason of any such orders or directions shall be deemed a deviation.3
I couldn't fit the entire width of the invoice on my scanner for the image at the top of today's post. So if you're interested in reading ALL of the fine print, click on the image below.

1. Published by the Alexander Hamilton Institute.
2. Did you know they had Vinolia Otto Toilet Soap on the Titanic? Wonder if it's a relative. (Also, check out this Papergreat post about The Boston Daily Globe's coverage of the Titanic disaster.)
3. Holy cow. That's all one sentence.

1 comment:

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