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George Rix Seawitchartist


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The Sea Witch Tea Chest

Tea chest dedicated to the Tea Clipper Sea Witch and Gunpowder Green Tea

The Sea Witch  is my fourth China tea chest and it's the only American themed one. Two more have been planned but I think they will be a long time in coming, I have a lot of work to do at this time. I feel it is also the best, it has benefited more than others from my developing a technique for painting rope and I've learnt a lot in the six year gap since I produced  number three, the  Halloween.

Prelude to the Sea Witch, the Ann McKim and Rainbow....

In 1833 Kennard & Williamson of Baltimore built the 143 ft, 494 ton clipper ship Ann McKim for Isaac McKim, a merchant of that city. She was the first three masted ship built on the lines of what was known as the 'Baltimore clippers' , until then this style had only been applied to smaller schooners and brigs. She soon found fame as being considered the fastest ship in the merchant marine. Named after his wife, it was built as if she were a yacht, she even had some brass cannon. When Isaac McKim died in 1837 she was purchased by Howland & Aspinwall,  an adventurous New York company who would operate her for ten years in the South American and China trades before selling her to new owners in Chile, she was scrapped in Valparaiso in 1852. She must have impressed Howland & Aspinwall who went on to build............
The clipper ship Ann McKim

Tea Clipper Rainbow and Chinese Junk

...the Rainbow, considered the worlds first true tea clipper in 1845. This 750 ton ship built by Smith & Dimon of New York caused controversy even while she was under construction, the first ship to have the concave bows and long sharp entrance that was the brain child of their draughtsman John Griffith.  Many considered it unnatural and some said it wouldn't even float, but after her launch that year she soon proved herself, sailing to Canton and back to New York in six and a half months, 92 days out, 88 days back  . Her master, Captain Land claimed she was the fastest ship afloat and that nothing could be built to beat her, which was wrong of course, but such was the excitement she caused. Alas, not for too long, she was lost off Cape Horn in 1848, but not before she had established the shape of things to come.  

 

 The Sea Witch arrives...

In 1846 the Rainbow got  a new stable mate, the  907 ton  Sea Witch , which would carry on from were she would leave off. Also built by  Smith & Dimon of New York, for Howland & Aspinwall.  She  would be commanded by the notorious, or I suspect, misunderstood Captain Robert 'Bully' Waterman, who had also superintended her fitting out prior to delivery, he certainly made sure she got every bit of sail she could carry too.

 

The evolving Stars & Stripes

The American flag, the stars and stripes has been subject to a lot of change as it grew state by state adding a star each time. In her life 1846-1856 there would be four variants, I've chosen to use the 1846 flag that she  sailed her maiden voyage under as the flag on my Sea Witch tea chest

 

The Sea Witch in a following wind

 

 

 

All text and images and linked images are 2003-2015 George Rix. If you require any further information on permitted use, or a licence to republish any material, email me at copyright@seawitchartist.com