Advert for the International Tea Company
Printer: HW & JH Peall
Medium: Print on paper
Until the mid-1800s, cargo ships carrying tea usually took 12 to 15 months to travel from India to London. Then, the Americans designed a more streamlined vessel, capable of carrying more cargo at a greater speed. It was based on the old Baltimore clipper, so-called because it was designed to 'clip' - get the last ounce of speed from the wind. In the 1860s, these ships raced acrossed the ocean to be the first to reach England with their cargo. In doing so they transformed the shipping industry, completing a previously long journey in just 95 days on average.
Perhaps the most famous, and fastest, clipper ever built was the Cutty Sark. Built in 1868, it carried tea on only eight occasions, and is now on permanent exhibition at the dockside in Greenwich, London.