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the magazine masthead features Neptune in a shell being pulled over the ocean by two sea horses with three mermaids in the water draped over the shell the title The shipping World and the Herald of Commerce surrounds the figures edited by Major Jones cost was sixpence
The Shipping World & Herald of Commerce, May 1, 1896.

The Shipping World: The Beginning

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I like doing deep dives into publications to show how they can be useful to readers beyond the audiences they were intended for. It was a bit easier to pique people’s interest with the Dry Goods Economist and Geyer’s Stationer, but when I ran across Shipping World, I knew this publication would also be of interest to those not interested in the shipping industry. With that said, this isn’t the first time Inside Adams has posted about this title, because, in 2017, Nancy Lovas wrote about it in the first of her three part series about shipbuilding along the River Clyde. I felt this publication was worth revisiting.

COMPASS FOR STEAM SHIPS. feature compass directions with a speed dial where the colors are are red and black and white where the colors may signifier; red figures are whistle sounds
From The Shipping World & Herald of Commerce, February 1884.

Shipping World was a UK publication, first published in 1883 as Shipping World and Herald of Commerce. The first words, written in the first issue, in May 1883, said the journal was established “to record the progress of shipbuilding and auxiliary industries, promote the true interests of our Merchant Navy, and to extend the markets and guard the welfare of trade and commerce at home and abroad.”

The publication is, of course, focused on the shipping industry in Great Britain with articles (sometimes accompanied by drawings) on engines and other technical topics, but Shipping World also had a wider view. Looking at individual issues, in 1883/1884, there were articles about the Viking ship of Gokstad, the Suez Canal, a map of the Straits of Sunda (the modern-day Sunda Strait, between the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java), lists of ship launches, and a list of marine patents. For those interested in the history of shipbuilding towns situated along rivers, an “Industrial Rivers” series appeared discussing towns along the Mersey (September, October 1883), the Tyne (November, December 1883), the Tawe (January 1884), the Clyde (February, March, April 1884), and the Thames (July 1883).

part of a fold out map for the City of Glasgow with the County of Renfrew on one side and the County of Lanark
From The Shipping World & Herald of Commerce, March 1884.

The very first issue included an article on a topic the publication would return to: the growth of British shipping. It included a tidy chart on the places where ships were built, the type of ship, how many were built, and total tonnage information. In 1883 and 1884 there were articles on launches as well as wrecks and rescues and even fold out maps for a few locations, including:

  • the Liverpool & Birkenhead Docks (September 1883)
  • the facilities of Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company Ltd at Jarrow and Howdon on Tyne (October 1883)
  • the activities along the Tyne between Newcastle upon Tyne and Blaydon (November 1883)
  • the shipbuilding facilities along the River Clyde (March 1884)

Coverage of trade was common, even in that first issue, in which they included a supplement that detailed information on the new tariffs of the United States along with a comparison to the old tariffs. The August 1883 issue had an article with a fold out chart that showed the extent and value of United States foreign commerce for the year ending in June 1882, while the December 1883 issue had a corresponding chart for British foreign commerce for the year ending in December 1882.

Shipping World had a long history and the Library has issues through 1999. Over the years, the publication had several title changes. It began as Shipping World and Herald of Commerce and then became Shipping World and Ocean Traveller. After that it became Shipping World and Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering News and later Shipping World and World Shipbuilder.

This is the first of a two-part series. In the second, I’ll focus on a specific year. I picked the year 1940, which turned out to be full of interesting items related to World War II, so stay tuned!

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  1. I find this topic very interesting. Thank you.

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