American Ship Print, ca. 1850

Value (2011) | $1,800 Retail

When my grandmother passed away in the '90s, my mother and her siblings dispersed her possessions, and my mom wound up with this and gifted it to me.


And so I've had it since the '90s, and I got to say, it's been schlepped. I pulled it up from the basement today. It's been kind of disrespected.

Oh, dear. This is absolutely a beautiful American ship print. A lot of these celebrated a particular ship, but this doesn't do that. Just looking here, there's no name of the ship on the bow. There's a lovely feel about it, because one of the things it shows is it's entering a harbor. So there's that, "Ah, the voyage is over, we're coming in to land." On the other side of the ship there's a number of small sailboats. This was printed in the 1850s. You can tell from the style of lithography as well as the construction of the ship. The ship has sails. It's a square rigger. But it also has an engine. And there's no side paddle wheel. It's got to have a screw propeller on the back. We have the American flag here, and at the back of the ship, you have the British red ensign flag. What we find out is that this is really a pretty hardcore piece of advertising. This particular steamboat company, Williams and Guion, is a company that sails from New York, Queenstown and Liverpool. New York and Liverpool, there was a big traffic. And at the same time, down here in this bottom left corner, there's a card pasted in by a shipping agent who is very interested in having this advertised. There certainly aren't any docks in these Midwestern states. It sort of expresses how much the interior of the United States is being connected to the world, certainly by railroads, and then out to steamboats. This star and the star on the flag on the other mast is a symbol of the steamship line. What you look for, for quality ship prints, is all the little details-- figures on the deck, the rigging. You've got a repaired tear here. It's probably pasted onto a board. There's an equal one on the other side towards you. It's somewhat browned. There's a lot that could be done with this. You could spend $600 to $800 on restoring this. As it is, I think a fair retail value would be about $1,800.


And if you spent $600 or so, you'd end up with about a $3,600 print.

Really? Wow.

And this is just a very nifty piece of Americana.

I'm a little flabbergasted, yeah. I mean, I've treated it like it was worth about $50.

I see.

And I'm going to take care of it, yeah.


You've certainly changed my opinion of it.

Appraisal Details

The Philadelphia Print Shop
Philadelphia, PA
Appraised value (2011)
$1,800 Retail
Minneapolis, MN (July 09, 2011)
19th Century

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