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Mamas

Postby shipstamps » Mon Sep 22, 2008 12:38 pm


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A short time ago I (E Argyle) was asked to write an article about collecting stamps depicting ships for the magazine "Topical Time", the official journal of the American Topical Association, a stamp society of over 10,000 members. The article appeared in the January-February issue of this year, with a surprising result.
After reading the article, Mr. James Kauth of Wisconsin Rapids, U.S.A., thought I might be interested in obsolete banknotes depicting ships as part of their design, and sent me half a dozen or so.
It certainly came as a great surprise to me, as I am sure it will be to Mr. Kauth, that one of the banknotes he sent to me has been copied for the design of the 10000 Chinese stamp of 1947 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Directorate General of Posts. Looking at the stamp through a magnifying glass anyone would be fully justified in thinking the ship depicted was merely a figment of the artist's imagination and that no such ship ever existed.
But thanks to the 10 yuan banknote of the Bank of Communications of China, issued on October 1, 1914, it is obvious that the stamp designer has not drawn on his imagination at all.
However crudely the Chinese stamp may be engraved, it nevertheless is sufficiently accurate to make the ship identifiable when one has the source of the design with which to compare it. Knowing that it is an actual ship on the stamp is one step forward, but knowing which ship it is, is a different proposition entirely.
It seemed a reasonable assumption that the ship could be a United States vessel, particularly as the banknote was the work of the engraving department of the American Bank Note Company, New York. I took my problem of identification to my good friend Mr. John McRoberts of Wallasey, who has the finest collection of photographs of ships I have yet seen. He thought, as soon as he saw the banknote, the ship could belong to one of two companies, and the comparison of the various photographs of ships finally led to the decision that the ship on the banknote, and so on the stamp design, was the Mamas, of the Southern Pacific Lines, New York.
Built in 1906 by W. Cramp and Sons at Philadelphia, the Mamas had a gross tonnage of 6,413, net tonnage being 3,893. She was 410 ft. in length, with a breadth of 53 ft. 2 in., her depth being 25 ft. 6 ins. Cramps also built and fitted her steam engines.
The Mamas appears to have been a sister ship to the Antilles, of the Morgan Line, shown on a set of stamps from Costa Rica, issued in 1911. Both ships were single-screw vessels built in the same yard,, the Antilles appearing in 1907. Conspicuous identifying marks are the four life-boats slung high on gravity davits, the high flying-bridge, tall funnel, derricks on foredeck house, and the open passenger decks over the foredeck.
Although the banknote gives the first impression that it is an all-black funnel, closer examination reveals that it is actually a white funnel with black top, though neither the banknote nor stamp show the white star on the black top of the funnel, a feature of the Southern Pacific fleet. As regards the copying of the banknote for the stamp design the artist has engraved his plate as he saw it on the banknote, the result being that the ship and locomotive are facing the other way on the stamp.
SG985 Article from Sea Breezes April 1967
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