Ordered for A. & J. Carmichael of Greenock, Golden Fleece was built by Barclay, Curle & Co. at Glasgow and launched in 1869, the same year as the legendary thoroughbreds Cutty Sark, Norman Court and the ill-fated Caliph. Universally acknowledged as one of the most beautiful iron clippers ever built, she was certainly the Carmichael's favourite and Thomas Ismay - the founder of the White Star Line - remarked that she was "the handsomest sailing ship he had ever seen" when he first saw her from the Mersey ferry at Liverpool.
Registered on the Clyde at 1,318 tons gross (1,257 net), she measured 229 feet in length with a 37 foot beam and soon proved to be as fast as she was handsome. Establishing records wherever she sailed, some of her most notable passages were London to Sydney in 72 days (1871), New York to Liverpool in 13 days (1874), Liverpool to Calcutta in 77 days (1880) and San Francisco to Queenstown in 104 days (1884). After a relatively short life during which she delighted everyone associated with her, she was wrecked when she stranded on Fly Island, Australia, on 27th December 1885.