Brown & Bigelow “S.S. Milwaukee Clipper" Playing Cards, c.1950Brown & Bigelow “S.S. Milwaukee Clipper" Playing Cards, c.1950Brown & Bigelow “S.S. Milwaukee Clipper" Playing Cards, c.1950Brown & Bigelow “S.S. Milwaukee Clipper" Playing Cards, c.1950Brown & Bigelow “S.S. Milwaukee Clipper" Playing Cards, c.1950

Excellent deck of cards made by Brown & Bigelow (Redi-Slip) c.1950, celebrating the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper, the “Queen of the Great Lakes.” The backs feature an artist’s illustration of the ship. There is an insert bridge scoring card with “April 1943 Revision,” and the address given on the box for the “dock” does not have a postal zone. There is a remnant of the 1 pack revenue stamp on the box. It is possible that the cards date precisely to 1943, but I have simply dated them c.1950.

The Wikipedia article for the ship has gives this history:

“The S/S Milwaukee Clipper, also known as S/S Clipper , and formerly as the S/S Juniata, is a mothballed passenger ship and automobile ferry that sailed under two configurations and on two sides of the Great Lakes. The Clipper is the oldest US passenger steamship on the Great Lakes. The vessel is now docked in Muskegon, Michigan.

“Her story begins December 22, 1904, in Cleveland, Ohio, at the shipyards of the American Shipbuilding Company. Christened the Juniata when launched, she was built for the Anchor Line, the marine division of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The ship is 361 feet in length, 45 feet in beam, a depth of 28 feet, with a gross tonnage of 4333 tons. It carried 350 passengers in staterooms at 18 knots. As originally built, it had a riveted steel hull and a wooden superstructure. For the Pennsylvania Railroad, she carried passengers and package freight between Duluth, Minnesota, and Buffalo, New York, until 1915.

“That year, the anti-monopoly Panama Canal Act, which forbade railroads to own steamships, went into effect. Divesting its marine divisions, the Pennsylvania Railroad sold its Anchor Line along with four other railroad-owned company fleets, to the newly formed Great Lakes Transit Corporation. Under this flag, she carried passengers along her old routes for another 20 seasons. The Juniata was laid up in 1937.

“The Juniata laid idle in Buffalo until being sold in 1940 for use as a cross-lake steamer on Lake Michigan. The Juniata was extensively modernized at the yard of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company. She had her boilers upgraded to run on fuel oil, but retains her original quadruple expansion steam engine. The old cabins and wooden superstructure were removed and replaced with steel to meet the new maritime fire safety standards created after the SS Morro Castle disaster off Asbury Park, New Jersey. The streamlined forward funnel is false and does not ventilate engine exhaust. The new ship featured air conditioned staterooms, a children's playroom, a movie theater, live entertainment, a dance floor, and capacity to carry 120 automobiles. On June 3, 1941, she made her maiden voyage to Muskegon. Under her new name Milwaukee Clipper, she steamed between Muskegon and Milwaukee, Wisconsin for 29 seasons.

“During World War II, the Clipper transported defense materials from Muskegon to Milwaukee. In the 1950s and 1960s, contracts with auto manufacturers to transport new cars during the winter months allowed the ship to operate without a full passenger load after most all-passenger vessels had become unprofitable and forced into retirement.

“By 1970, competition from the Interstate Highway System and commercial airlines had rendered the Clipper unprofitable as a cross-lake transporter. She spent the next several decades being passed among different owners filling different roles.”

There are 52 cards, plus 1 Redi-Slip Joker, plus the scoring card noted. The faces of the cards are standard Brown & Bigelow cards. The cards are bridge size, measuring 90mm x 58mm. They come in the original box.

The cards are in excellent condition, lightly used if at all. The box is in good, perhaps even very good, condition, structurally intact, but with signs of age and wear and separation developing along one edge.

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Item ID: T00001487

Brown & Bigelow “S.S. Milwaukee Clipper" Playing Cards, c.1950

$25 USD

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