From the Mobil Book of Ships.
This fleet of 23 tall-masted, square-rigged vessels made its appearance on the seas of the world at a time when sail, as a means of propulsion, was on its way out and steam was taking its place.
In 1900 most of the problems of transporting bulk oil in steamers had been solved. Our British affiliate, Anglo-American, had ocean tankers at that time which were marvels of their day and for 50 years afterward; yet at the turn of the 20th century, when the Mei Foo lamps of the Far East created an insatiable market for illuminating oil, sailing vessels instead of steamers were selected to supply the market. The logistics of world-wide fuel replenishment had not yet been worked out well enough to support ships on such remote journeyings. Thus it was that Anglo-American fell back on that old standby, the wind.
Since the fleet was needed in a hurry, 12 of the 23 ships in this fleet were acquired by purchase. These were DRUMELTAN, ALCIDES, kKENTMERE, LAWHILL, LYNDHURST, CALCUTTA, SINDIA, GLENDOON. JOHANNA, KING GEORGE,
JUTEOPOLIS and FALLS OF ETTRICK.
Eight were built in England: COMET, ARROW, NONPAREIL, ECLIPSE, BRILLIANT, ALACRITA, DAYLIGHT, RADIANT.
The remaining three were built in the United States: ASTRAL, ACME, ATLAS.
These case-oil barques took on cargoes at New York or Philadelphia for eventual delivery to the Far East and farther.
On the return voyage they brought home tea, sugar, camphor, rattan and matting.
Later, around 1910, storage tanks were built in the Far East and the trend towards bulk transportation began. It gained swift momentum; and this, combined with the advent of the oil-burning steamer which could carry enough reserve fuel
for the round trip,, spelled the end of the watch for the kerosene clippers.
Each of these ships was an individual - made so by the curious combination of how she rode the wind and sea and of how her men and officers behaved on board and along the waterfronts of the world.