The American-Built Clipper Ship


The American-Built Clipper Ship


By William L. Crothers

Long of line, incredibly fleet, with tall, raking masts and clouds of sail, the great Yankee clipper ships stir dreams of romance and adventure. This book, the most important and detailed ever to appear on clipper ships, is the fruit of 35 years of research. Lavishly pictorial, it's a boon to maritime historians, model makers, and dreamers alike.


ISBN: 9781626543393 (Hardcover)

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“A monumental work on the design and construction of the clipper ships at their apogee  . . . a boon to maritime historians and modelmakers.”
—Wooden Boat

“The ultimate book on the American clipper ship . . . an instant classic.”
—National Research Journal

With the sweep of its bow, its graceful lines, and its clouds of canvas, the clipper ship   sparked a romance with the American public that still endures 150 years later.

The public fervor surrounding locally-built clippers generated intense intercity rivalries—and a new type of thinking. Ships suddenly were christened with romantic names; interior decor of passenger-carrying vessels reached a new level of embellishment. Pushed by their masters, who drove them as no ships had been driven before, clippers reached and maintained speeds that were previously unheard of, setting records for sailing ship passages that were never to be surpassed. Their heyday was astonishingly brief—by the 1860s giving way to safer, more commodious, iron steamships, which were not at the mercy of the wind.

The product of more than 35 years of exacting research, The American-Built Clipper Ship presents in exquisite detail 152 clippers that comprise the culmination of the shipbuilders’ art. Every facet of clipper ship design and construction is covered, including wood species, scantlings, fastenings, midship sections, interior living areas, and details of scarphs, keels, stem- and stern-post assemblies, frames, timbers, and bracing—all included in some 160 intricately drawn  illustrations by a man whose unequaled work has earned him a national following among modelers and maritime museum directors. This is possibly the most complete reference on clipper ship construction ever published. No other single source covers so many vessels in such detail.

The American-Built Clipper Ship will be an invaluable resource for historians, model builders, and maritime artists, as well as for any newcomer who is only now learning how addictive the subject can become. 

In a real sense, William J. Crothers spent his entire adult life preparing this book. Hired by the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in the early 1930s, he retired after 35 years’ service in naval ship design. During his long and productive career he developed the ability to draw extraordinarily crisp and detailed ship plans. And he developed a fascination with the American clipper ship—which he pursued through all the maritime museums in the United States and several in England.