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Great Republic by Edward D. Walker


Signed, fine art print

Sheet Size:
12 1/2″ x 17 3/4″
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Launched on Oct. 4, 1853, the Great Republic is noteworthy as the largest wooden clipper ship ever constructed. She was designed by naval architect/shipbuilder Donald McKay as a four-masted medium clipper barque. The Great Republic at 4,555 tons was intended to be the most profitable wooden ship ever to ply the Australian gold rush and southern oceans merchant trade. The City of Boston made the Great Republic’s launch day into a holiday. Between 30,000 – 50,000 spectators attended the launch. On Dec. 27, 1853, a fire burnt the Great Republic to near the waterline. She was declared a loss and Donald McKay, who never got > over the loss, was compensated by insurers. The sunken hull was sold by the insurance underwriter to Captain Nathaniel Palmer who salvaged and rebuilt her as a three-deck vessel with reduced masts. Still the largest clipper ship in the world at 3,357 tons, she started back in merchant service on Feb. 24, 1855. She continued sailing until March 5, 1872, when a hurricane off Bermuda caused the ship to leak badly and she was abandoned. Originally, the Great Republic had 50 sails and cost $450,000 and was 400 feet in length with a beam of 53 feet, height of 247 feet, and a draught of 25 feet. Typically, her speed was 19 knots. While the Great Republic was the largest clipper ever constructed, the Wyoming, built in 1909, was the longest at 450 feet. The Wyoming was a 6-masted schooner.