Ch. Tommy Tucker of O'Tapscot signed 'Edwin Megargee' (lower right) oil on masonite diameter 9in (22.8cm)
LITERATURE: Carla Dietz, How Dogs Now Go To Sea, The American Kennel Club Gazette, Sept. 1, 1940, vol. 57, no.9 ill.
In 1940, the owners of the newly christened liner the SS America, commissioned the renowned American dog painter and illustrator, Edwin Megargee, to produce portraits of famous champions to adorn their kennels.
The America was outfitted with 24 individual kennels, a run under a glass roof and a large play room. Under the direction of its vice-president Col. P.V.G. Mitchell, a noted breeder of Bedlingtons at the Rowanoaks kennel, the United States Lines had long been known for its high-class care of its animals. Mitchell designed the kennels with the assistance of Dr. Edwin R. Blamey, the official veterinarian of the American Kennel Club. He also ensured qualified attendants were hired and that the animals were given exercise and a proper diet. Dogs on the United State Lines were treated to a luxurious menu ranging from Swedish heath bread to broiled Halibut. Their open space even included a sandbox with a tree stump.
Sadly, the de lux accommodations were to be short lived. In 1941, SS America was commissioned the USS West Point and saw service primarily in the South Pacific and carrying over 350,000 troops, the most for any Navy troopship in World War II. After the war she was returned to the United States Lines serving them from 1946-1964. The remainder of her life was a checkered career under various names and flags. Ultimately, she was grounded off the Canary Islands in 1994 and has continued to break up. Today only a few feet of ship are still visible.
It is not known exactly how many of Megargees 24 original portraits still exist. He was reported to have produced one each for the liner and owner of the dog. The present examples appear to be from the ship as they retain their glass and 'porthole' frames. A full set of photographic reproductions of the original portraits is retained by the American Kennel Club.