By 1860 Fouchow (English spelling/pronunciation of Fuzhou) had become China’s major seaport. Fast clipper ships gathered in the spectacular Pagoda Anchorage to load tea from junks and sanpans that brought their precious cargoes from as far as 100 miles up the Min River.
When fully loaded the clippers would race around the world. Classic tales tell of 2 or 3 ships arriving in London on the same tide after being driven hard for anywhere from 116 to 160 days, neck and neck, across the world’s oceans.
The first ship to arrive received the best price for its tea and prize money for its crews.
This painting shows a clipper ship arriving in the Pagoda Anchorage while other ships are already busy taking on cargo.