• Maritime Art auction at Christies

    Sale 5949

    Maritime Art

    11 November 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 121

    Charles Edward Dixon, R.I. (1872-1934)

    The celebrated clipper James Baines

    Price Realised  


    Charles Edward Dixon, R.I. (1872-1934)
    The celebrated clipper James Baines
    signed, inscribed and dated 'Charles Dixon/- 32 -/The "James Baines" (lower left)
    watercolour and bodycolour
    13½ x 19 in. (34.3 x 4.3 cm.)

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    Named for her owner, one of Liverpool's most prominent shipping magnates, the James Baines was designed and built by Donald McKay at East Boston, Massachusetts, and was said by many to be his finest creation. Launched in 1854, she had been ordered by Baines's Black Ball Line of Australian packet ships and went into service with high expectations after her record crossing from Boston to Liverpool. On her maiden voyage to Australia, she ran out in 65 days setting another new record despite being fully loaded with 691 passengers, over 100 crew, 1,400 tons of cargo and 350 sacks of mail. The run home was only marginally slower at 69 days and later passages were almost as good. In 1857 she was one of three Black Ball ships chartered to take troops to India where the Mutiny had broken out and, before sailing from Portsmouth, was visited by Queen Victoria who personally offered her master a bonus of £100 per day for every day he saved on his contract time, so concerned was she about the alarming situation on the sub-continent. Having disembarked over 1,000 men of the 97th Foot at Calcutta, the James Baines returned home to Liverpool with a valuable commercial cargo but whilst lying in the Huskisson Dock on 21st April 1858, a serious fire broke out below decks and she was burned beyond repair; it was a sudden and shocking end to one of the masterpieces of the age of sail.

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