'Racing home - the 'James Baines' and 'Red Jacket' signed 'Henry Scott' (lower right), inscribed on reverse oil on canvas 101.6 x 127cm. (40 x 50in.)
James Baines and Red Jacket were both amongst that select group of American-built clippers which, like their British counterparts, achieved almost legendary status in their own lifetimes.
The famous Red Jacket, designed by Samuel Pook, was built by George Thomas at Rockland, Maine, in 1853 and registered at 2,305 tons. Clearing New York on her maiden voyage on 11th January 1854, she made Liverpool in an astonishing 13 days, 1 hour and 25 minutes, dock to dock, a record which still stands for the fastest ever eastbound Atlantic crossing by a full-rigged sailing ship. Her reputation made, she was immediately chartered by the White Star Line for their fast Australian passenger service and turned in near-record runs on her first trips out and home. White Star thereupon bought her outright for £30,000 and she continued on the Australian route until the end of 1859 when she transferred into the Calcutta trade. Sold by the White Star Line when the company went into steam in 1868, she then worked the timber trade between Quebec and London before eventually ending her days as a coal hulk in the Cape Verde Islands.
The James Baines, named for her owner, one of Liverpools most prominent shipping magnates, was built by Donald McKay at East Boston, Massachusetts, and was said by many to be his finest creation. Launched in 1854, she had been ordered by Bainess Black Ball Line of Australian packet ships and went into service with high expectations after her record crossing from Boston to Liverpool. On her maiden voyage to Australia, she ran out in 65 days setting a new record despite being fully loaded with 691 passengers, over 100 crew, 1,400 tons of cargo and 350 sacks of mail. The run home was only marginally slower at 69½ days and later passages were almost as good. In 1857 she was one of three Black Ball ships chartered to take troops to India where the Mutiny had broken out and, before sailing from Portsmouth, was visited by Queen Victoria who personally offered her master a bonus of £100 per day for every day he saved on his contract time, so concerned was she about the alarming situation on the sub-continent. Having disembarked over 1,000 men of the 97th Foot at Calcutta, the James Baines returned home to Liverpool with a valuable commercial cargo but whilst lying in the Huskisson Dock on 21st April 1858, a serious fire broke out below decks and she was burned beyond repair; it was a sudden and shocking end to one of the masterpieces of the age of sail