Clipper ship at center sailing to right in image flying flag off left end ship. A second clipper ship follows behind to the left; others in the far distant background both left and right.
Currier & Ives produced more than three hundred prints celebrating the American maritime industry. Of the most notable prints are those that depicted clipper ships. Clipper ships were designed for speed and carried large cargoes to keep up with the increasing international trade demands. The clippers specialized in trips from the eastern seaboard to the Pacific, where gold and tea would be picked up and carried back to their home ports. Many of the voyages were sailed in record time, which created quite a public stir. Nathaniel Currier, always aware of current public taste and demand, was quick to produce prints of clipper ships upon their maiden voyage or to celebrate a new speed record. The clipper ship Sweepstakes was built in the New York yard of Westervelt & Sons and launched in the summer of 1853. The Sweepstakes was praised for her sleek lines and speed, making the trip between New York City and San Francisco in only 106 days.