Ladies of the Clipper Ship Prima Donna
One of my ongoing topics to research is the history of sails. Lately, I came across these 19th century clipper ship cards, that are just too good to keep to myself.
Only the lady on the left looks remotely interested in being part of this ad campaign. The rest look like they don’t really want you aboard their ship.
Unlike the cards above featuring respectable ladies, most of these clipper ship advertisements were printed in garish colors, with images meant to appeal to adventurous young men:These cultured ladies of the Prima Donna in their staid black and white must have been meant to appeal to a more settled segment of society. I wonder if they represent actual opera singers, or maybe a ship owner’s wife and daughters.
I could look at these cards all day. You can read more about the use and history of clipper ship cards here at the American Antiquarian Society. This article focuses especially on images of women on the cards, and has an image from a different Prima Donna card. And Mystic Seaport has a huge collection of these cards available digitally.