The iron full-rigger Alexandra was built by Oswald, Mordaunt & Co. at Southampton in 1884. Registered at 2,521 tons gross (2,461 net), she measured a massive 305 feet in length with a 41 foot beam and, at the time of her entry into service, was the largest sailing vessel operating out of the Thames.
Ordered as the flagship for his growing fleet by J. Coupland of London, her first master, Captain John Pierce, kept her until she was sold in 1890 and renamed Claverdon. Her new owners, F. & A. Nodin, put her into the San Francisco trade and she survived two particularly brutal passages around Cape Horn in 1893 and again in 1902, being nearly lost on both occasions. In British ownership until at least 1914, she was still afloat in the mid-1920s but, by that time, was Italian-owned and named Albertstella.